Lungeing for Longevity
By Jane Armour
Available at armourequinetraining.sports.officelive.com
Reviewed by Mary Daniels
Most health-conscious Americans are aware by now that an ongoing exercise program is an integral part of staying fit, promoting well being, and avoiding or at least staving off degenerative processes. This DVD by Jane Armour, a British Horse Society certified trainer, is about that same concept applied to the horse.
Armour is known as the Horseoneship Clinician. She came to the United States in 1997 on an Extraordinary Ability Visa as a “Trainer of Trainers.” One can see why, as she has a fresh and empathetic way of explaining the classical European method of lungeing, done to enhance a horse’s way of going. (She spells it “lungeing.”) I especially liked her safety-conscious and low-tension way of introducing it to the horses with which she worked.
“Any horse at any level and at any age can improve with correct lungeing and therefore have a longer, better life. Isn’t that what we all want for our horses?” she asks in the DVD, after demonstrating what this excellent tool can do for three very different horses at different life stages and training levels.
There is Diego, the novice horse, an Irish Sport Horse working on flexibility and building the top line from back to front. Second is Othello, a big Warmblood competition horse, working on lengthening and shortening strides and on transitions from trot to canter and back down again, with a visible improvement. Finally, there is Woodstock, Armour’s own 26-year-old riding horse, showing how a lifelong lungeing program can enhance soundness. He certainly does not look his age in the DVD.
Lungeing is an art, Armour says, rather than just a way to let a horse blow off steam before you mount. This DVD certainly expanded my ideas of lungeing tactics. It also brought to mind how a very experienced friend of mine took her young, well-bred horse out of training when she arrived unannounced one day to see her horse being longed by the highly-rated (and expensive) trainer who was twirling the lunge line above his head, while standing still and chatting with a pal on the sidelines. At first I thought her reaction a bit much, but after watching this DVD, I understand why she did what she did.
Armour begins her DVD by explaining what she prefers in tack and how to fit it, which is very helpful. “Always a bridle,” she says, “so the horse can work forward into contact.” She shows how to fit the cavesson over the bridle and the proper length of side reins. She prefers leather side reins with a donut and a cotton lunge line, which she advises to “hold the way you would a ridden rein for an elastic following.” She also emphasizes wearing “good gloves.”