F.R.A Freedom Riding Articles
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For many people, lunging is an important part of training and keeping their horse healthy. Lunging allows the horse to learn movements and build up muscles without the weight of a rider. In addition, it learns basic commands from the ground. The basic equipment for lunging consists of a lunge line (usually 8-10 m long) and a lunge whip. Everything else is a bit more specialised, because opinions differ when it comes to lunging with a headcollar, a bridle, or a Cavesson, not to mention the use of draw reins & side reins. There is no right and wrong here. It always depends on what you want to work on with your horse on the lunge line or whether it's a casual jog. Otherwise, the most important thing is that the equipment you choose fits correctly and that your horse feels comfortable with it. The Cavesson is a good choice if it is buckled and used correctly, because you can work your horse with or without a bit and have the possibility to use lunging aids such as auxiliary reins if necessary. The same applies to auxiliary reins. Here there are various possibilities to support your horse. It is up to you which aids you choose to work with, if any.
Most auxiliary reins can be used for lunging but also for riding. The aim is basically to show the horse the way to a position in which it can arch its back and take up weight with its hindquarters. This way your horse can build up the muscles it needs to be ridden in a healthy way. For a simple lunging aid, which runs over the back through the front legs to the bit, you do not need a lunging girth, unlike many other auxiliary reins. Triangular reins, also called Viennese reins, are different. They run from the girth to the bit and back again and are intended to show the horse the direction of stretching. Lunging systems have an additional rear part that is supposed to be above the hock joint and thus facilitates the activation of the hindquarters. This is because the horse can only really arch its back by pushing from behind. The Chambon or the Gogue have a similar effect, they only differ minimally in the buckling. With these auxiliary reins, the horse learns to let its head fall when pressure is applied in the mouth or neck, which helps it stretch forwards and downwards, so that muscles in the upper neck and back can be built up. This is an essential prerequisite for a healthy horse's back to support the weight of the rider. Neck extenders have a similar effect and are somewhat flexible due to the elastic material. When pressure is applied to the horse's neck, the horse should give way and lean towards the bit. The classic bridle does not allow the horse any room to stretch forward-downward, it gives a clear frame to the front as well as a lateral limit.
Exercises depend on what you want to achieve. Beginners learn to keep their balance in all three gaits during lunging. They can also try out rein position. In addition, all riders - not only beginners - can effectively work on their seat during lunging. Young horses learn to find their balance during lunging and to pay attention to the commands of the lunger. All horses can build up or strengthen their muscles and get more toned while lunging.
Lunging over obstacle poles lying on the ground trains the horse's attention and surefootedness. Driving horses, for example, learn through the double lunge not to be frightened when lines touch their hind legs. In this training, the lunge circle is abandoned and the trainer walks behind the horse with the double lunge.
Lunge lines are made of synthetic material or cotton rope. At one end they have a swivelling snap hook that is hooked into the horse's bridle. At the other end there is usually a hand loop. Simple models are just under eight metres long, double lunges have a length of about 16 metres. A cotton rope lunge line is usually lighter than the synthetic version. However, in rain or other contact with moisture, the material quickly becomes saturated and then very heavy.
This is not an issue with synthetic lunge lines. Lines made of nylon webbing provide easy grip. However, you should still wear gloves. If you want to pull the lunge line through the snaffle rings, a rope version is better. With all models you must pay attention to good workmanship. After all, the line and hook are subject to considerable forces.