In addition to working from the saddle, the double lunge work offers us a nice change of pace to train the horse in a healthy way and to keep it fit. But why can the work on the two lines be so valuable?
Autorinnen: Svenja Linder, Melanie Schieß, Takt und Verstand
In contrast to simple lunging with a cavesson, we can have a more targeted effect on the contact, form and degree of collection of the horse with the double lunge. It enables us to frame the horse better and, above all, to bring him closer to the external rein aid. We need these when riding for correct position and bending and thus for any dressage work.
Especially horses that find it more difficult to find balance under the rider, the double lunge work can help very well. You can learn to balance yourself and step on the outer reins without the additional weight of the rider.
And by the way: It is also very practical for us riders to be able to see the horse in motion and not just sit on top of it.
So said - done! Armed with a cavesson or snaffle, double longe, whip and belt, it goes to the pony. But how was that again with the lines and where are they buckled? And how do you manage to get the clutter in your hands under control and not get wrapped up in yourself? So that neither you nor the horse gets a knot in the head or in the lunge, we have put together the most important basics.
1: This is how you can start on the double lunge in a relaxed manner!
The equipment We always recommend a cavesson for the start, because it is much more forgiving of your own mistakes on the double longe line and protects the horse's mouth. Later, when the handling is good and the horse can keep its balance well on the circle, you can also work on a snaffle. Here we would always prefer a bit with fixed rings and no leverage, as it sits more smoothly in the mouth.
In addition to the right bridle, a suitable girth is essential - above all, it should have freedom of movement over the withers so that there are no unpleasant pressure points. This relieves the spine and the horse's back can work freely.
If you want to protect your harness, we recommend a a sweat-absorbing pad. This not only protects the leather, but also looks damn good! With an anatomically cut variant, you can be sure that it fits your horse perfectly.
As with normal lunging work, a lunging whip or driving whip is required in order to be able to drive the horse in a targeted manner. Depending on the distance, we like to work with a driver's whip, as it is much lighter and our hands don't tire as quickly. In addition, it is always good for us to walk with the horse.
It also makes sense for the longe leader to wear gloves. They provide grip and protect your hands.
Let's get to the heart of double lunge work: the double lunge itself
The market offers a variety of materials and lengths, colors and thicknesses. For us, the most important thing is that the longe is light and durable. Every gram of weight acts on the horse's mouth, so the nature of the lunge line has a direct impact on its impact. We have a double lunge from Filogran.
The material should be smooth-running so that the lunge line runs well through the rings of the harness and cannot jam. You can also use a double lunge with pulleys. Here you only have to hook the pulleys into the belt or bit, and the lunge itself runs through the pulley. Depending on the material and belt, the rollers can thus reduce the friction of the rope.
2. The possible buckles of the double lunge
There are many ways to buckle the double lunge, but actually two of them are enough for everyday work. We prefer to start with the "remonten" or "young horse" buckles. With this type of buckle, the outer lunge line is guided normally over the lunge belt to the horse's head. The girth stabilizes the lunge line so it doesn't land on the ground next to the horse.
The inner lunge, on the other hand, is first passed through the ring of the cavesson or snaffle and then attached to the girth. As a result, the inner lunge acts more forward-sideways and can better explain the inner position to the young horse - like the inner reins pointing sideways when riding. It is important here to always work forwards rather than backwards with the inside lunge line and to give in as soon as the horse turns to the inside.
As with horseback riding: A backward-acting rein is never desired. With this type of buckle, the lunge has to be buckled on every time you change hands.
With direct buckles, the lunge line is guided equally on both sides from the horse's head to the girth. In particular, hand changes can be practiced without having to strap on the lunge line again each time.
Any form of deflected lunge buckle, i.e. from the lunge belt to the horse's mouth and back to the belt, has a pulling effect, since the lunge acts like a pulley. This is the same principle as with the draw reins. A fine and fast signaling is not possible with this and the horse's head is simply pulled down without the longe leader having to use a lot of force.
This may look nice for some at first, but in the long run it damages the horse and its suppleness. Here it is worth investing a bit of patience and time in order to teach the horse real balance and a solid understanding of aids.
3. Handling of the lunge
Not only the buckle on the horse's head offers many possibilities, also the handling of the double longe can be very individual to confusing. That's why we prefer to practice a kind of "neutral" hand position, which always gives us the opportunity to sort ourselves out and control the chaos: the one-handed lunge guidance.
The longe is taken in the front hand and the whip with the end of the longe in the back hand. But first things first: the inner lunge leads from the horse's head or girth to the front hand between the little and ring fingers. The outer lunge is held by the thumb and forefinger.
The remainder of the lunge line goes into the back lunge hand holding the lunge line and whip. It is important that the lunge line in the back hand is placed neatly in loops of the same size or smaller. In this way, the lunge line can slowly slip out of your fingers if necessary and lead the horse to a larger arc.
With a grip on the lunge line with the back hand, the lunge line can be easily retrieved and neatly put down. The best thing to do is to practice these movements without a horse until they work by themselves. This saves you a lot of confusion when working with the horse.
Then you can also take the outside lunge in the back hand if necessary. Although the one-handed lunge control is more difficult, it also ensures a finer and more targeted influence on the horse. If we lead the lunge line with both hands, it can quickly happen that we give unclear and coarse signals.
4. Beginning with an inexperienced horse or lunger
In the beginning, your horse has to get used to the lines in peace, because sensitive horses can react violently to the lunge if they are not well prepared. We like to practice that in the round pen.
If the horse panics for any reason, you can still control it better here and thus prevent injuries. In addition, your horse can initially orientate itself on the fence and thus gain additional security and support. Your horse should get to know the longe line as an aid and not fear it. It is ideal if the horse is already familiar with simple lunging and, if necessary, working with long reins.
In any case, you should fasten the longe to the cavesson to protect the horse's mouth. Attach the double lunge line and notice how your horse reacts with each step. If it becomes unsteady, calmly repeat each step until it can relax.
Nervous or sensitive horses in particular may find the longe line creepy. If you are unsure, find someone to secure your horse's head so that you don't have to pull the lunge line unnecessarily. Here is our article on horse-friendly training. Once your horse has gotten used to the lines, you can start with the first exercises:
Stepping up and stopping
Use your voice signals and the influence of signals on the lunge for this. Your horse should already be familiar with these signals from normal lunge work. Never just pull the lunge line or use force. Give your horse time to really understand your signals. You can also work at a shorter distance if your horse is more comfortable with it.
Once you're good at starting and stopping, you can start positioning yourself more in the middle and letting the horse run around you in the circle line. Again, it may have trouble keeping the same distance from you at first.
In order to establish contact with the outside rein, we like to practice lunging in the arena. You can also build up four cones or soft lanes as visual aids.
5. Basics on the double lunge
If the basic signals such as stepping up and stopping work, the basic work on the double lunge begins. First you practice running with your horse on the entire track in the arena or in a riding hall. To do this, you have to run a little more with the horse. Here you can already work out an easy position to the inside.
Be especially careful that your inner line has more signal and you are not constantly applying pressure. Giving in on the double lunge is very important so that your horse does not constantly feel pressure in its mouth. As with riding, the outer line has a limiting effect and gives the horse a framework.
It is important that your horse finds relaxation and can stretch towards the lunge. Then continue to work on large curved lines until you can increase and decrease circles and lunge a volte in the step. If your horse comes too close and on the forehand, whip it up a bit with the whip and let it try to connect to the lunge line again.
If your horse can already convert the bend well in the walk, you can add the trot (or the tölt for horses that are very inclined to tölt) and also work on the position, bend and flow with both hands. With the direct buckle, with a little skill you can soon incorporate flowing hand changes and lunge your horse on a figure eight. Here we have more tips for you on what you can do with your horse from the ground.
6. What to do if ... ?
… the horse always pushes inwards?
In the beginning it is very difficult for the horses to find their balance on the circle line, this requires work and patience. Check your contact with the outside rein and the correct position. First, you can make the horse run squares so that it only has to bend briefly and then go straight again. In this way you can work out a positive leaning against the outer lunge line step by step.
You can gradually build more and more "corners" into your square and slowly develop a circle. This has the advantage that your horse develops a real balance and you can incorporate straight lines at any time.
Especially if the horse presses heavily on the inner shoulder, this is an indication of a lack of balance and relaxation. The whip can also remind the horse at the shoulder to stay more outside. And: Better to let things go a little slower than too much speed
… the horse always pulls outwards?
Balance is the magic word for this problem as well. It doesn't help to keep pulling the horse inwards, it doesn't learn to balance itself. Working with optical aids, correct position and a lot of patience leads to the goal here.
For example, you can use pole lanes or cones to make it easier to explain the lines to your horse. You can also work on a square here first and then add more and more corners.
… the horse gets hectic?
Hectic usually has something to do with insecurity and tension. Here the leader of the lunge line is asked to convey calm and serenity. Step-by-step approach and trust-inspiring cooperation are the motto here and the following applies again: slow down and don't pull on the lunges.
Also check your own body tension. Our horses reflect us in ground work as well as in riding, and tension is often quickly accepted.
… the horse curls up and gets behind the vertical?
Yes, that's a mistake. The horse should also step on the reins on the double lunge and look for support, with the poll ideally being the highest point. If the horse comes too low, it eludes the rein aids.
It doesn't help to shorten the lunges and restore a "contact" here, that will only worsen the problem. Often there is a lack of relaxation and the horse's forward thinking. It can help to push the horse forward a bit and incorporate transitions between gaits, such as walk-trot transitions.
Giving hands are particularly important here. The aim is always for the horse to tighten the reins/lunges independently. In addition, the lunger should check his own influence, initially it is enough for the horses if they work according to signals.
As the horse becomes more balanced and supple, the contact with the lunge becomes more constant.
… the horse does not run forward?
Why is the horse dawdling? Is it bored or does it save energy? We can often animate horses well by doing short and crisp units with many breaks in between. It is better to send your horse energetically forward for three laps and then let it stand for a moment. The break is a good reward and the horses quickly learn that it is worth working with as they then get a break again. In this way, lazy horses become more alert and motivated.
… the horse runs away?
Some horses have such problems with balance that they latch on and flee into the race. You are overwhelmed. Of course, it must be ruled out that the horse has physical problems, fear or pain.
Take very small steps here, less is more. The horse can learn that its signals of being overwhelmed are taken seriously.
If the double lunge doesn't work at all, go back to the classic lunge work on the cavesson until your horse starts reliably, parries through and can vary the pace at a walk and a medium gait.
7. Further work on the double lunge
When the longe leader and the horse have mastered the basics of double lunge work, completely different possibilities open up! Finally, it's time to build up stamina and strength. With the help of trotting bars you can make your horse fit and build up back muscles. Transitions in all gaits strengthen the hindquarters and suppleness. Continually refining your signals and aids will pay off. Then side movements on the double lunge are no longer a problem!
As you can see, working on the double lunge is endlessly varied and it's a lot of fun once you get past the initial chaos. Sticking with it and practicing is worth it! You can also do a double lunge practice on bad ground in winter.
Who is Takt und Verstand?
Takt und Verstand are Svenja Linder and Melanie Schiess. They run a successful Instagram channel where they show you their everyday life with their horses but also impart knowledge. Fair treatment of the horses is particularly important to them, with sporting pressure to perform at the back. Drawing, explaining, making videos, taking photos, writing: not only the horses are her passion, but also the creative and knowledge transfer. They combine these two passions in their podcast and social media channels.
“We kept getting to the point where the methods we had learned up to now couldn’t go any further. New horses always presented us with different challenges. In cavalry there is no black or white, every path is individual and you never stop learning new things. Because we all benefit tremendously from the exchange and the ability to think outside the box.” Svenja and Melanie have already written and drawn a book: Der kleine Reitlehrer – das Gebäude des Islandpferdes
Veronika has also been part of her podcast before. Subsequently, it was about social sustainability, environmental protection, taking responsibility - everyone is talking about sustainability, but how does it work, how can I make my purchase decision when it should be a new part for the horse and what does all that have to do with it to do with sheep?!
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