What tools do I need to lunge my horse?
One of the many, many tasks of a Groom is to lunge the horses. This may happen all the time, or very rarely. In order to stay safe as a Groom, you can do a few things and grab a few items to make sure your horse doesn’t end up like a tornado. Safe lunging starts with safe equipment, for you and your horse.
Keeping a lunge line tidy in the tack room goes a long way to prevent me from getting tangled. Because I can. And do.
-Gloves. These are a must! Even though I’m a huge fan of letting go if things go sideways, there’s always the chance of a heinous rope burn in those instances before your reflex to let go kicks in. A sturdy set of leather gloves is much better than a dainty set of riding gloves, but any gloves are better than no gloves.
-A proper lunge line. Lunge lines are usually about 33 feet long, so that your horse ends up traveling on a 20 meter circle. Inspect your lunge line for frays, make sure the buckle is securely sewn in and in working order. Linking two or three lead ropes together is not acceptable. (YES I have seen this and YES it ended badly).
I prefer to fold my lunge line when it’s in use, for the same reason as I don’t loop my lead rope. I like my fingers, all ten of them, to be in working order.
-A helmet. Just in case. One of the most dangerous things about lunging is the potential for your horse’s legs to go sideways, upside down, and inside out without regard for any noggin (even yours) in their way.
-A proper area to lunge in. If you are fortunate enough to have a round pen, by all means use it! If you need to lunge somewhere else, consider size (anything smaller that a 20 meter circle is too small), footing, and proximity to other horses. If the area is too far removed from buddies, your horse may worry and act out. If the area is too close or being used for lessons, you could be inviting a domino chain reaction of zany horses.
This is a handy way to store your lungeing equipment - by the round pen!
-The safest halter, cavesson, or bridle you can find. I’m not always a fan of halter lungeing, but every horse needs to be able to do this calmly as part of a Veterinary exam. If you are lungeing in a bridle, I prefer the reins to be removed, or you can twist them up and run your throat latch through it.
If you use a cavesson, or other equipment that may be used rarely, it may need a cleaning and/or conditioning before you use it. Rarely used stuff = stuff that breaks easily.
-A surcingle. You may want to use one of these instead of a saddle when you lunge with a bridle or cavesson. A surcingle gives you ample options when using side reins.
Use side reins with caution - many horses can be put into unsafe and unnatural frames.
What gear do you use when you lunge? Is a helmet part of your routine?