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Nylon vs. Cotton Lunge Lines

by Theresa Rice


This month’s focus is on buying and breeding. Only 3 years ago I was a brand new horse owner; I felt like a new parent trying to keep an infant alive. There was so much to learn! An important lesson came in the first month…

I had moved to a large horse facility with multiple arenas and was getting settled in the new routine of  care and feeding of my half-Arabian gelding. Back then, my biggest fear was being judged by fellow boarders for my lack of knowledge. Little did I know, my ineptitude would be realized in a glorious display, and judgment would be the last thing on my mind.

Photo Courtesy Theresa Rice

When it came to equipment, I didn’t give much thought to purchasing a lunge line. I started out using a flat, blue, nylon lunge line. The lunge line was a space saver as it hung flat and peaceful on the outside of the stall. Back then, my horse was a “spicy,” energetic 6-year-old and I was a brand new horse owner. His youth combined with my lack experience required I provide adequate exercise for my equine partner. I got him out one night, tacked him up and took him to the paneled arena to lunge off some energy. We got to the center of the arena and I let out a little slack in the line as I lifted my lunge whip to push him away from me. He needed no pushing and immediately started bucking, leaping in the air and soaring away from me.

The nylon lunge line zipped right through my hand; I let go before the friction put too deep of a rope burn in my palm. Now I had a horse running loose in the arena, the long line waving wildly behind him as he raced around and around. As soon as he would slow down to a reasonable trot, he would spy the trailing line behind him and spook into another bout of bucking and running. I had three thoughts: Thank God no one is in here! Thank God the arena is fenced in! How the heck am I going to catch him?

Photo Courtesy Theresa Rice

My prayers were answered when two of my good friends—experienced horsewomen—raced into the arena and helped to wrangle my horse into submission. I switched to a cotton lunge line the next day. The cotton lunge lines have more substance to them and are easier to grip. When your horse offers you a little resistance and pulls, you have more volume on which to take a hold. If your horse does start pulling that line through your grip, the cotton is going to give you a much lighter rope burn than the nylon option.

I exercise my horse a lot more now and that keeps the silliness at the end of the lunge line to a minimum. However, recently a new boarder had an almost identical experience as mine. After we helped him catch the horse and get it settled down he explained that he couldn’t hold onto the line because it was burning his hand. I simply nodded, and told him to go buy a cotton lunge line.

Even though it’s a basic piece of equipment, I highly recommend you think about your lunge line. Perhaps you haven’t experienced a nasty nylon rope burn, but if this happens (and horse silliness is not uncommon) you’ll think back to this article and wish you’d spent the $20.00 for the braided cotton. They can be found online or at well stocked tack stores.


Published in January 2016 Issue

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