This event can have a bit of controversy to it as in most events. But with the lunge-line class, some people I’ve spoken with about it say it actually ruins prospects so I thought it an important topic to cover.If done properly, it can accomplish many things that people want in a good riding horse later on down the track. It can also be a good evaluation tool to help you observe your horse’s potential (or lack of) in the show pen by being able to see if he has a natural way of moving with a level top line, showing himself to be responsive to the handlers subtle cues. There is nothing better than watching a young lunge liner perform in his class with next to no visible cues from the handler.
Yes, some people claim that competing in lunge line will create problems in a yearling’s future training. This can come about by a handlers lack of knowledge, letting the youngster travel around dropping his shoulder or allowing him to travel on the forehand or overworking them which can put wear and tear on a young horse’s legs. Knowledge is power that’s for sure!
Slow and Steady
It is important to note that a young horse doesn’t stop growing until around the age of 5 1/2 In general, the process of growth plates becoming bone happens from the bottom of the animal up. Most bones have fused by the time a horse reaches age 4, but the pelvis keeps growing until a horse is about 5 and some plates of the vertebral column do not fuse until a horse is 5 ½ or older. You don’t have to wait until all of your horse’s growth plates have fused to start working them but you should be careful that the process is slow and steady so you don’t risk injuring the horses joints.
Over training a young horse will set you up for failure. An over trained youngster can start to resent his training very quickly and will develop life-long bad habits such as ear pinning, dropping shoulders, being on the forehand, if not corrected and left to continue.
Once something is taught, whether it be good or bad, it is a long, hard process to re-train it out of their brain. Judges know immediately if the horse has their ears pinned back and they are dropping shoulders or travelling on the forehand that the youngster has been over trained.
When starting a young lunge line prospect, training is done slowly and calmly. If starting a youngster before his yearling year begins you should keep your training to short training periods of basic repetitive manoeuvre’s.
Do not rush your training. I like to start them at the walk initially, giving them the time to get used to the routine and become accustomed to his training area. This then builds very gradually adding the jog, then a lope over time to teach the yearling about balance and proper carriage on the lunge line.
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TRAINING YOUR OWN HORSE