Tips on lunging your horse

Lunging can form a valuable part of the horse’s regular work routine, no matter what age the horse is or what discipline you focus on.  In any case, lunge work should help to improve the horses way of going while being ridden.

Set out below is an outline which you may use to lunge your horse.  Lunging your horse is a safe way to exercise and train your horse during this challenging time.

Lesson Outcomes

  1. The reasons why you lunge. A horse.
  2. Safety checks to follow.
  3. Technique on how to lunge. 

When lunging your horse, please ensure to use a safe area with good footing i.e. lunge pen, barn indoor arena or outdoor arena with temporary surround made with cones and plastic breakable tape.

Equipment

The handler must wear gloves and suitable footwear while a helmet and body protector is recommended.

The following can be used on your horse:

  • Bridle, cavesson or headcollar
  • Lunge line
  • Boots
  • Breast girths
  • Roller or saddle
  • Side reins or other training aid
  • Lunge whip.

The reasons for lunging your horse include:

  1. Training and breaking a young horse.
  2. It helps teach the horse to go forward.
  3. It helps teach the horse to be straighter.
  4. You can observe how the horse is going and see muscle development.
  5. You can work the horse if it can’t be ridden.
  6. You can get more horses exercised if time is limited (No Short Cuts).
  7. You can teach the horse new exercises from the ground.
  8. To calm a fresh or excited horse before riding.

Before you begin to lunge your horse let them become familiar with their surroundings and give them a moment to settle and relax.

Follow these steps when lunging your horse:

  1. Start by checking the equipment and the girth. Develop a rapport with your horse and gain its trust by body language.  It must never be afraid.
  2. Walk the horse around and stop. The horse learns to stop when you stop and walk on when you walk on. Next, when you turn, the horse will turn with you all without pulling. (See above video)
  3. Return to centre where everything happens (for safety). Check the girth and send the horse out on the left rein at walk, moving the while after the horse, low to the ground in circular motion in rhythm with horse.
  4. A high whip to ask for a transition to trot and canter.
  5. A whip pointed at the ground kept quiet to ask the horse for downward transitions.
  • It is important that we do the same thing, with no variation, in order for the horse to learn.
  • Use voice commands at the start, then ‘Wooooooooo’ soft voice for downward transitions and ‘Himp’ short sharp for upward transitions.
    • Halt horse on circle and pick him up and walk half or more of the circle before returning to the centre.
  • Change and repeat on the right rein walking on the righthand side of the horse.
  1. Take care when attaching side reins, never too tight, and shortening as required, so as to work the horse from behind over its back into the contact.
  2. Warm-up without side reins unless your horse is excited and exuberant in which case put them on (Only if the horse is accustomed to them). It may help with control.
  3. Cool down. Take off the side reins and allow the horse to stretch, relax and walk-in hand for a period before finishing. You can also do this if the horse gets tense during a session.

You must remember that lunging is hard on the horse’s joints and should not be carried out for long periods.

Remember lunging can be dangerous if carried out without due care and attention.

Compiled by Tony Ennis, Chairman.

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