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Franklin Levinson's

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Lunging for Love

Hi Franklin!

I was searching on the Internet for articles on how to lunge, and came across your site. I haven't been riding long, but I've heard that you should lunge your horse for respect. Can you give me some advice on what to do, instead of making the horse go round in circles, not really knowing what to do or why I am doing it? (some background info - I don't have a horse yet, I am working with a lady's 6 year old mare who never rides much. You could say this mare is testing me!)

Thank you! God bless you in your work with horses and in everything you do!

Sincerely, Jenny

Hi Jenny,

Thank you for your sensitive email. Let me suggest holding a higher purpose around your time with the horse will give you real direction and intention when you lunge and do other actions/games/fun things with your horse. It will also help establish and deepen your bond. Lunging for Respect is the title of a video by a good trainer. I agree respect is something to be desired and necessary in the horse/human relationship. We get respect from a horse by showing enough respect to offer it clear, precise, conscious requests and not just demands. We honor the horse and show it respect by not assuming it should do anything we say unless it’s requested in a respectful, polite and yet precise way. When you speak “horse” with intention coupled with speaking in a patient, respectful and yet confident parental kind of way, the horse will be very much attracted to that energy and want to come to you and comply. So, I suggest the reason and intention to have when you are lunging this horse is the bond you want to build based on trust and respect. Do everything consciously and thoughtfully even if you don’t know the exact moves. Make every little thing a simple request. Things like walking out of the stall and every WHOA! can be an opportunity to make a simple request, get your desires met and the horse wins by getting a “good boy”. It makes everything you do with the horse like partnered dancing. It sets the horse up in a winning cycle by doing your simple requests and then earning a “good boy”. They really understand when they have done a good job and appreciate acknowledgement. Once the simple things get great then you move on to bigger and harder requests. Get it??!!

The technique of lunging is relatively simple. Stand facing the horse’s rump, not any forward of his hips at all. Going left, hold the lung line in the left hand and “haze” (motivate) the horse to move off to the left using the right hand or arm (sometimes a lung whip used thoughtfully and gently or a coiled rope). Keep your gaze and any movement “into the horse’s butt” so to speak. Be sensitive not to scare the horse. If you back away from the horse it will probably turn and come to you. If he shows signs of fear, back off a bit and try again more gently. Try teaching him to stop on voice cue. Also when lunging him you can stop or turn him with your body simply by turning in the direction he is traveling and taking a step towards that direction and he will stop and want to change direction if you keep moving. If you stop after taking a step or two in the same direction he is, he will too. Lung him forward, cue a change of direction and go the other way. Lung him over low rails, stop him and have him come back to you. Make it a game. Back him gently around the arena with him being 10 feet away from you on the line. If you begin to do gentle, easy yet profound movement (backing, stopping, turning, jumping, side passing) with him while on the ground, you will notice a tremendous change in the horse€šs attitude and responses to you. You will really have a dance partner, I promise.

Please let me know how it all goes. Blessings always.

Sincerely, Franklin

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