LUNGING FOR RELAXATION, BALANCE AND SUPPLENESS – PART 1
By Emma Cutting, UK-based Trainer
I’m often asked by owners how they can teach their horses to enjoy lunging more. Some of the most frequent phrases I hear are: ”my horse gets faster and faster” or “he seems to find it quite stressful and sticks his head in the air”. Sound familiar?
A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO LUNGING
My approach to lunging is quite different and one which I learnt from the excellent Manolo Mendez. I was initially taught, like many, to lunge in the centre of a 20m circle while turning my body on what I call the “clock face” with the horse travelling around me.
Usually a bridle would be used with a lunge line and whip, to form the accepted triangle shape, still seen in many books and illustrations today. While this technique is still hugely accepted and indeed prescribed by many, it isn’t without its fair share of biomechanical, postural and psychological complications for the horse.
I believe relaxation is the nucleus of all training. Only through relaxation can we achieve true fluidity of movement, balance, suppleness, cadence and ease of breath.
My work on the lunge is based on the premise that all training should both mentally and physically develop a horse.
Anatomy and its function has always fascinated me. Everything we do when training our horse influences both of these things, either in a positive or negative way. Along with relaxation, I employ two other core principles to all my training sessions.
THE THREE PRINCIPLES
*Without relaxation we are simply training stiff muscles and ingraining resistance, compromising balance and suppleness.
*Without bilateral suppleness, the horse will always be stiffer on one side due to its natural handedness, so will struggle with balance.
*Without balance the horse will struggle to relax both mentally and physically.
I believe the synergy of these 3 principles is fundamental for developing a happy, healthy and comfortable horse.
So how does this all affect the horse who finds lunging less than enjoyable?
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About Emma Cutting
Emma Cutting is a UK based trainer specialising in biomechanical and postural equine rehab, groundwork and training. Born into a show jumping family, her riding career started at the age of 4. Her early years were spent pursuing her passion of show jumping, winning many competitions on home produced ponies. She later went on to train at a professional dressage yard and in more recent years has taken up eventing.
Years ago, due to her most talented horses’ continued soundness issues that unfortunately led to the mares’ early retirement, Emma decided another way of training was desperately needed, one that prioritised the welfare of the horses’ body and mind!
Currently studying biomechanics, Emma was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend some time with Manolo Mandez, whose classical principles form the bedrock of her work with horses today.
Emma created Beaumoor Sentire at her yard in Yorkshire in 2015, and uses a team of professionals with every horse she works on, recognising the need for an integrated approach.
In order to continue developing her own knowledge, Emma regularly attends courses, and dissections where possible to further understand the horse from the inside out.