Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Are Lunge Lines Dangerous?

Abbey wrote to ask if using Lunge Lines are dangerous. "I am back into horses after a 15 year lay off. I am working with a seven year old Arabian mare who I just love and she is working out great, I will most likely be buying her, but the owner cautioned me when I was lunging her on a line. She said using a lunge line was dangerous and I should lunge her at liberty in the round pen. The mare is rideable and not a green horse by any means, so I am not getting the dangerous lunge line bit. What is your opinion on using a lunge line? Thanks!"

Hey Abbey, I don't think lunge lines are inherently dangerous, whether you are using a 25 foot lunge line in a round pen or arena, or using the lead line to move the horse around. I suppose if your lunge line was to long and you coiled it up on the ground you could step into the coils and if the horse bolted and you couldn't get her head around then maybe you could be drug. Same for wrapping the lunge line around your hand or arm. But who does this? 

In the picture below, you'll see my lunge line, which is 23 feet long, laying on the ground as I control it with my left hand and use a flag to move my horse around with my right hand.  I can't remember ever getting tangled up in the lunge line where it posed a danger to me or my horse.    I have lost track of how many times I have dropped the lunge line on accident, only to pick it up and continue on.  If I'm using a lunge line or long lead on a horse in the round pen and that horse gets into trouble, such as spinning into the line and getting wrapped up, I can simple drop the line.

I use pretty long lead lines on my rope halters, usually 14 feet, so I can lunge my horse in small circles as a warmup when I get him from the pen and to see if he has any lameness issues. This is also useful to remind my horse that I am the leader (at least today) and get him focused on me.

I make 23 foot lunge lines using yacht braid rope with large brass bolt snaps and use them to not only lunge horses with,but I'll use two of them to ground drive a horse sometimes. But a majority of the time I free lunge my horses  (what you call lunging at liberty) in a round pen.

Lunging with lines is useful to green horses to teach them to give and to bend to disengage their back ends. Plus I use lunge lines (or lead ropes) connected to the rope halter to work their feet and legs getting them desensitized to ropes slipping across their hocks or a rope going underneath them.  I wouldn't try to use a lunge line at first on a totally wild horse, preferring to free lunge until I get control of his feet and see that horse's anxiety being replaced by acceptance and curiosity. 

I think that it is probably as dangerous, maybe even more dangerous leading a horse on a short lead line than using a lunge line, given all the things that can happen close up if you are not careful and/or the horse broke enough.  Such as the horse spooking and stepping into/onto you or tossing his head and hitting you with it.  Simple thing to do is to ask the mare's owner what she means by lunge lines being dangerous and consider the validity of her answer, but I think it's probably a good idea to be handy with ropes and lines and think you can do so without risk to yourself for the horse.  Hope this helps. Safe Journey.   

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