Tap 10 different riders and you’re likely to hear 10 different opinions about the best way to lunge a horse before a class. Just a few of the points for discussion include: when and where to lunge, for how long and with what tack, and what type of horses require it. One rider who embraces lunging as a routine part of her program is Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster, and to us, the analogy Foster uses to explain her thinking about this much-discussed training aid makes a lot of sense.
“I just sort of figure that horses are a bit like kids….If you think about how hard it would be to concentrate if you have a bunch of pent-up energy [you can understand the reason for it],” Foster says. “The majority of my horses all lunge before they show [and] I like to do it myself.”
Here, Foster shares her top three lunging tips with NF Style.
1. Pick the right equipment—and the right space.
“I never [use] a chain, which everyone has a big problem with [laughs], but I’ve never had a problem. I have a very, very long lunge line that Walsh made for me. I never use a lunging ring if I don’t have to. I’ll use the full ring where the horse can take the whole [space] to get loose.”
2. Think about what you want to ride in the ring.
“I’m lucky enough to ride horses that are quite scopey, so they don’t need a ton of energy in order jump the fences,” Foster explains. “I think I end up riding sensitive horses, [and it] suits my riding style for them to be a little on the quieter side as opposed to revved up—that’s not how I like to ride.”
3. Don’t make your lunging time too structured.
“I don’t encourage [the horses] to run on the lunge, but I like for them to play and trot loose. I like for them to spend 20 minutes or so just getting their body loosened up before I get on, and then a lot of them I also ride after I lunge them.”
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