365 Days in Horse Country – Riding on the Lunge Line
Maintaining your balance on the horse is probably the single most important aspect of riding. Without balance, you won’t stay on your horse for long. Good balance also makes it easier for your horse to carry you.
A great way to improve your balance is to ride on the lunge line. The lunge line is a rope measuring anywhere from 15 to 25 feet (4.5 to 7.6 m) long that attaches to your horse’s halter or bridle. The other end is held by someone who stands about 10 feet (3 m) or more away while the horse moves around him or her in a circle. By having an experienced person, whether a trainer, instructor, or another skilled horse handler, lunge your horse while you ride, you can concentrate on improving your balance.
If your horse knows how to work on a lunge line, get a qualified person to help you. Tack your horse up as you would to ride him, but fit him with a lunge line as well. In a safe arena, mount up you horse and start riding him on the lunge line at the walk. After you and your horse have warmed up, start working on your balance by riding with one arm out to your side as you hold the reins with the other. Start with your inside arm and then switch to your outside arm.
Once you feel comfortable with this, it’s time for both arms to come up. Drop your reins and let the person holding the lunge line control your horse. If you feel off-balance, this is the place where you need to stay. Work only at the walk with both arms up for about thirty minutes. Practice this as often as you can until you feel pretty secure at the walk. Be sure to have the horse lunged in both directions.
The next step is try these exercises at the trot, and then eventually the canter. When you can ride on the lunge line with both arms out at the canter, your balance is excellent.