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.