Just wondering how many people actually free lunge their horses and what their thoughts are on it? I've taken the concepts from Join-Up and sort of converted them into my lunge session. I have long-lined and will be doing more of that in the future in preparation for the starter (my boy is only 3) but so far every trainer I've seen/spoken too has always said a horse must be on lines (whether single or double) and I have not yet found any that advocate free lunging.
I have all the same control (have taught my boy using voice commands combined with sounds and body language) so he will respond to my asking him to walk, trot or canter (when he's being lazy I will use the line to push him up as if we were doing a join up) and can use my body position and commands to ask him to turn.
Have studied the videos on single and double line lunging and have videoed my boy whilst free lunging (both myself and an outsider) and his movement seems to be much more relaxed and natural without the lines. He also has the option of throwing in a little pig root or kick if he's feeling a little out of shape or balance and this seems to allow him to 'put himself back in'.
He does seem to do this more when going through a growth spurt but I can't blame him as he's probably not all that comfortable.
I ensure that he does enough of a workout to exercise his mind and his body and will occasionally use trot poles to give his hamstrings a good stretch, but do not push him too much as he is still a baby and not mentally or physically able to do a full workout yet. (and not being started under saddle he doesn't receive any work with weight on his back, except when long lining and he has a roller) I will be introducing the saddle shortly but this will be done very slowly as I only have access to a stock saddle so he will not be spending a lot of time with this until he's comfortable.
At the end of our workout I use the final stage of join up by actually getting in front and using join up/follow up as I would as if I was joining up. We then do follow up and once I'm happy will do a small exercise either working on flexion or moving off pressure just to ensure that he gets these concepts before he goes away.
Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I do have a video of him working free on my facebook page if anyone would like to see what I am talking about. You can find me through the forum group.
Not at all sure about this one Denea as in my mind free lunging sounds a bit like a join up session with voice commands and yet join up is so special and Monty does warn us that we shouldn't do join up more than 6 or so times with the same horse. The only experience I have had with free lunging was years ago when a woman was demonstrating how good her horse was by free lunging him prior to my purchase of him. Stupid me - I was sucked in and bought him even though I did not like him - big solid chestnut with Roman nose. I was working full time so no time to be choosy and just needed a horse to ride out on with my daughter. Once I purchased him I soon realised why she free lunged him - you couldn't hold him on a lunge or lead rope! Wish I had a dually in those days. Only horse I was ever pleased to say good-bye too - he ended up getting bad ring bone and had to be put to sleep. Soo - my thinking is that the lunge line or long lines do give us that control we need and help to discipline our horses. I will be interested to note what others think on this one.
Hmm, tricky this. I have no specific answer but can offer a few thoughts into the mix. I agree with Maggie that any free work should be seperated out from the principles of Join Up - Join Up is a philosophy to engender trust and leadership, 'free lunging' is an exercise programme. I assume this is being done in a round pen is that right? Monty does not advocate ongoing exercise in a round pen as the horse can tend to rely on/lean on the perimeter;he suggests that once you have light control/turns they come out of the round pen for their long lining. To free lunge in an open space/large manege would require a high degree of conditioned responses that is seen in the type of liberty training suggested by the likes of Parelli (lets not have a criticism of Parelli again here, I'm just pointing out a style :-) )and of circus horses (not something I would ever advocate!. This can lead to 'deadness' through an over conditioned response or anger and irritation on the part of the horse. On the other hand, I can see a huge merit in the horse being able to move without encumberance of lines etc. Now, I need to make a point about the buck - I have worked with a beautiful and intelligent warmblood who was raised in a Parelli influenced freestyle method and boy does she get hacked off when she is "chased" around freestyle - airs above the ground, bucks, etc etc. - these are NOT her 'working things out' these are her displaying anger and irritation and being 'sent away' (don't forget, being chased away is mimicking a herd disciplnary action). I have worked the same horse in my way (Montyesque of course!) and she is a dream and will do whatever I ask her (I never do Join Up with her, I just walk around with her for a while, let us settle in together and then we start work). I am not saying any of this is right or wrong, they are my reflections based on my experiences. Taking Maggies experience with the chestnut into account it would suggest that if freestyling is a desired process then full cooperation on longlines should be achieved first in and out of the round pen. Looking forward to others' thoughts.
Thank you for your responses so far. I am able to work him comfortably with lines and yes so far the work is mostly being achieved in a round pen but unfortunately where I am agisting there is not a lot of other options as we only have 1 round yard and 1 arena and a lot of horses to be worked. I feel the bucking is more just him being a baby and not misbehaving as he is normally quite well behaved and should have mentioned it usually occurs when I have been unable to give him the time I should.
I don't believe in "chasing" or as we like to call it "hunting" the horse while they are working which is why I have always had horses that are trained to use normal cues as well as voice commands. It also means that if something happens he is controllable if we are somewhere new and unfamiliar.
He does also get the opportunity to work in the arena when we can (if no-one is riding in there) and if I have the time I will sit outside the arena and let him have a run and play. Unfortunately I can't leave him to do this as he escapes and stirs the other horses up by prancing around the stable block :(
Will try and capture a video of what I mean and post the link on here. Might make it a bit clearer.
Thanks Vicci for your input here. Enjoyed reading it.
Thanks Maggie, you are too kind :-)
Denea - I hope I didnt seem too critical of what you in particular are doing, I have every faith that you want the best for your horses, my comments were thoughts/questions my usual musings!
Definitely long line control first, but i see no problem with occasionally letting them school free & having a play.
interacting with your body language is fun. My companion pony loves it & apart from leading her off my other mare in the field it's the only exercise she can do; she finds it fun & responds to very light signals. She doesn't do too much as she isn't very sound, so it's more to give her mind something to do & she gets excited to be doing something with me.
When they were both youngsters, i eventually tried working them both together - in a larger school - it was a disaster, Ebony was really cross cos thats her time with me & neither of them was the slightest bit amused that the other one was there so i didn't do it again!
Ebony is a very strong mare & i'm not due to injury, so it does neither of us any good it she turns directly away from, bucks & gallops off, you can't hold on to that - she finds it great fun to clear off flat out round the field while i'm having kittens worrying that she's going to tread on a line & break her jaw or similar.
While loose schooling, she will come directly to me the moment i do the 45* turn away from her & comes to me if worried too.
If they were being chased round out of balance, that would be different.
Hi Denea & everyone, nice thread. Where my daughter rides the owner free lunges all of her horses when the weather has been too bad for kids to ride. She does this in a school and makes a lane with a small jump in the lane, then she free lunges them. They quite enjoy it and they definitely see it being different to join up. Voice commands are used.
With our guys I herd them for their exercise when it's been too bad to take them out. In an acre field I get them to run around me using certain sounds and body gestures, they take this again as different to a field join up and with the herding exercise we have lots of bucking and gallops, our youngest gets quite excited.
Rambling here, but what I'm trying to say it is what we are asking of them by our communication with them that guides them what to do. If we are wanting join up our focus is eyes on eyes until we see the signs of join up so we can the gain follow up. If free lunging, our focus is on the legs, down the back and rump and you shouldn't see signs of join up, the horses will realise you are asking something other than join up. If you see join up signs whilst free lunging, it would be a case of double checking our body language.
Excellent answer Mel, you have a very good talent for putting what you do into words to explain what you mean - i wish i had that!!!
Absolutely, the voice is used & your eyes are on the legs & body, not the eyes of the horse.
Again, it's down to really noticing what body language you are using for different responses & that's the learning part!
Dear Denea. I do "free lunging" as a routine, too. I think it is another way of working with a horse to avoid getting bored.
i agree Rudi, it breaks the boredom of always being ridden or other exercise / work where you always have lines attached to them. I definitely prefer to "free lunge" than have a single line on my companion pony, although i don't do it too often with the part Arab mare as she gets very silly, she does however enjoy it, i just don't want her hurting herself! she just finds it a bit too much fun sometimes!
Thank you Beryl, sorry for the delay in responding. Boggy fields and everything taking longer than normal is my excuse :D Hope you are all well. x
Many good thoughts from all of you - FAB! And yes, our horses will show their 4 signs whatever we do with them or against them. Just as if you were long lining your horse, the signs will be there, or riding! It is a matter of SEEING and know when to give the horse a, shall we call it Thank You, and know when to raise the bar.
I found a book from 1951 were a 70 year old man writes: Never do the same thing two days in a row. Never ride the same path two days in a row - don´t you feel boredome having to walk the same way to work everyday? Good thoughts I think! Keep on Equus All, warmest CI Ann Lindberg
Nice to have a comment from a Certified Instructor. I'm a long way off from getting there, but one day I will be! :)
Looking much forward to have you in our team Mel! Greetings Sweden
Thank you Ann, look forward to meeting you one day! You must have some excellent experiences, you'll have to post about them!!
Enjoy the weekend.
Wow, what wonderful responses. Thanks all for posting. It was really interesting to see what everyone else's views were. I do think I need to work on my body language a bit more to try and differentiate between join up and 'work' but am just getting into the habit of being in join up mode as so many of the people where I'm stabled are really starting to take note of what I'm doing with FJ and that it's obviously working. Unfortunately there are those I will never convert from single line lungeing but if I can teach my horses that they can work and have fun at the same time then I'm happy.
Great to know you are making progress converting some Denea.
Good work Denea, remember even Monty still have those who do not believe in his methods.
Nice quote Ann about the boredom & a very sensible man who wrote it.
Good luck Mel, I'm sure you'll be a great instructor. xx
thank you Beryl :D
I'm getting there Maggie. My goal is just to get people to stop 'hunting' their horses in the round yard. I'm getting there slowly.
It's hard Mel but the proof is in the horse. When I got my boy in Aug 2012 he was nearly untouched. Now he is the cuddliest horse on the property. Now if only he would lose that last vice it would be wonderful. He has the ability to ignore electrical fences and walks straight through them :(
Oops! Not a good habit.
our Barnabay loves electric fencing too :-)
Hi Denea, is there any difference in his walking through fences according to the time of year at all? Bear with me, I'm not going mad honestly ;-) Where my pony lives there are two shetlands: summer coat - electric fence fine, wonter - straight through - their winter coat seems to give them enough insulation to ignore it!! I'm not suggesting you ratchet up the electricity at all but it's just something to think about. If its all year round, I will re-think :-)