Rosie Simoes is a 20-year-old dressage rider and assistant trainer at Flying Dutchman Farm in Barrington Hills, Illinois. She is a USDF bronze, silver, and gold medalist, participant in Lendon Gray’s programs, and member of the USDF YPAS. She was selected as a participant in the Hannoveraner Verband’s Rider-Exchange Program and is spending the fall in Verden, Germany.

By Rosie Simoes

After one month at the Hannoveraner Verband in their pilot Rider Exchange Program, I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with very talented young horse riders and trainers. The past two weeks at the Verband have revolved around the Elite Auction. On Saturday night, after the two weeks of preparing and presenting the horses for potential buyers, the auction took place. And while the entire process was exciting and interesting, I have been thinking about a very obvious, yet helpful tool that has been aiding in success for these youngsters: lunging.

Lunging has always been apart of my program at home. I have had it ingrained in me from the start that proper ground work, including good lunging, teaches the horse respect and relaxation while allowing them to find their own balance without a rider. Since working at the Verband, I have found that there may be no more important tool for working with the young horses then productive lunging.

Many have the misconception that horses go on the lunge line to buck, play around, and run full speed to be tired out. Others dislike lunging because they think that horses are being forced into false frames causing them discomfort. However, neither type of the above methods of lunging are truly effective for the horses. Of course there is a time and place to let them play, but they must understand that lunging comes with good behavior. Horses are not allowed to get out of control and pull the ground person over, and it is the responsibility of the handler to keep the horse engaged and listening as if they were riding.

With young horses especially, lunging is a useful tool that is multifaceted. It is helpful to understand that the horse has many of the same problems on the lunge line that they have under tack, and many of these issues can be improved on lunge.

This is why my rider Juliane (Jule) Kunze-Bretschneider and I work out a plan for each of the horses, including the most effective method of lunging for the individual. Some horses are worked more over the back then others, some need transitions, and some must be worked in a more open frame. In each case, it is critical to analyze the behavior and confirmation of the horse to create a flexible plan that may change day by day. We use lunging as an extension of riding to enhance our work under saddle, always keeping in mind that the principles of the training pyramid apply to establish our primary goals: rhythm, looseness, and contact. Thus, enhancing ride-ability, teaching balance, and preparing the horse for a productive ride with lunging is aiding many of the young horses at the Hannoveraner Verband and setting them up for success!

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