Lunging: The graceful skill of self- communication

G’day my friends and welcome back to another week and another blog!!!

Horses. You know I love them. It is debatable though whether the love is mutual.

For the last 6 months or so I have spent at least 1 day every week around them. Learning how to ride, but also learning how to do the ground work and learn their different cues in body language.

Two weeks ago I finally managed to lunge a horse somewhat successfully (no one see my lunging whip technique please) for 90 minutes!

The lessons I have learnt during my time around our Equine friends, have been so amazing that I thought I need to share them with you.

Learn to Lunge!

me lunging for the first time. Black and white photo of me standing in the middle of a rectangle arena on sand. a chair is in front of me that a hold onto for balance. I have a lunge whip in my right hand. A small mini pony is right in front of me going around me in circles
The first time round. Lots of personal lessons learnt

Like most people, I have a bucket list a mile long of all the things I want to do. Lunging is one of them!

For those who don’t know what on earth I am talking about, lunging is where you stand in the middle of an arena and use your energy and in some cases a lunging whip to guide the horse at a walk, trot or canter in a circle around you. It is easier said than done I can assure you!

The first time I attempted to lunge, I was working with a beautiful mini Pony. However, I could not get her to do one full circle around me.

She would go half way around, and then stop either behind me or on one side. She knew I was at a disadvantage because I was sitting down. Or that is what I thought.

However, I have come to realise that it wasn’t her that was being a diva (ok maybe slightly being a diva) but it was me and my energy that was failing her.

I have felt for the longest time I need to impress people with what I can do so they don’t keep commenting on my disability. I even felt like I needed to add all these things to the list of achievements so I could feel like I am more than just a disabled woman.

So that was my energy going in. I thought to myself ‘ i have watched this been done a million times, and watched how-to videos, i will crush this on the first go, and the instructor will be so impressed!’. Yep clearly it was a flop of massive proportions! I left feeling embarrassed and also determined to learn what I did wrong.

I needed to learn how to change my perceptions about myself and others before I could get back into an arena with these gorgeous animals again.

2nd Times the Charm!

Me lunging a Clydesdale mix horse on a grassed arena. my scooter is between me and the horse. I am standing up. The horse is black with white socks.
take 2. success!

A few months later, my incredible instructor/coach asked if I wanted to try to lunge again. I said heck yes! Any time with horses is always a good time!

However, I was not expecting her to come around the corner with her Clydesdale mix! Sure I had ridden horses about his size, but not actually been in a round (ish) pen on my own with a horse that didn’t have a halter on and could run through me in a blink of an eye!

However, we very quickly got used to each other, and once he realised he couldn’t go anywhere except around me he calmed right down.

For those 90 minutes, it was just me and him working together and communicating based on energy. I was standing up the whole time until my coach said to sit down and see if he will keep lunging. And sure enough he did without skipping a beat.

We bonded in those 90 minutes and enjoyed each others company, sharing carrots and plenty of hugs. At the end my coach gave me his lead rope and said, ‘you can take him back to his paddock’. That moment just him and I walking (well one of us walked while the other drove a horse loved bitten scooter) was the icing on top of an already glorious cake.

Always a lesson

me and the same black and white horse from the second photo.. I am giving him a big kiss on the cheek back in the sand arena while holding a brush.
one of my fav pics ever!

what changed this time around? It is simple. My energy. I had no expectations and said ‘it will be a good day if I can get him to do one circle around me’. That meant I went to him relaxed, and was able to be in tune with him, and not be so in my head.

Why am I telling you this you may be asking?? Well, a lot of times we are so in our heads, that we don’t see what is happening around us or to us. Lunging a horse forces you to be in the moment if you want it to work.

You have to let go of expectations on yourself, and others and just simply, try. But also just be.

Sure, it is always good to have goals! We need them to get further in life. But life isn’t always a competition. You are allowed to mess up. In fact the world doesn’t end if you fail an exam, get fired, send the wrong email to the wrong person or even unsuccessfully lunging a horse .

However, it is crucial that you learn from what didn’t go right and grow from it.

Perceptions that the world places on us makes us so rigid and eager to please, that we so often look past what matters most to us. We forget that we need to do what makes us happy, and instead we are too scared to move outside the box. Learning how to do that like by lunging a horse for example, teaches you to remove those perceptions and judgments.

The horse you work with doesn’t come with a pre-conceived idea of who you are. They just want to be around you. Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to loosen the shackles and forget about perceptions, expectations and judgment from people around you? Don’t you owe it to yourself to just enjoy the moment??

Once you can answer all those questions, and learn to be present in what you are doing and not fly on auto-pilot you can then start to really enjoy life.

till next week.


p.s. after more horsey inspo?? check out my riding blog post here!

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