|Lungeing can be used to simply exercise your horse or to further his training. In the colder months, when time is short, it can be a good way to put your horse through his paces. To make the most of lungeing, check out our learn to lunge tips|
As an absolute minimum, your horse will need to wear a lungeing cavesson plus brushing boots on all legs. If you plan to use side reins or another piece of lungeing equipment, such as a Harbridge, Chambon or a Pessoa training aid, you'll need to have your horse in a bridle and may also need a saddle.
A lunge cavesson should fit securely so that it does not slip around the horse's face. If using a bridle as well, have the lunge cavesson over the bridle.
If using a saddle, ensure the stirrups are secured so they do not flap around and worry your horse. Fold the stirrup leather back through the stirrup and secure the iron by passing the spare end of the stirrup leather though the leather itself and then through the keeper on the saddle so that the iron and leather are secure.
|Where to lunge
If you can, use an indoor or outdoor school, as this is much safer. If you have to work outside in your field choose the flattest part, preferably in a corner where two of your sides are fenced in. If your field conditions are wet, slippery or deep, then don't lunge as you risk injury to your horse.
|The Triangle of work
Think of the shape made when lungeing as a triangle. Your horse is the base of the triangle and the lunge line and the whip form the two sides of the shape. As the handler you are the point of the triangle.
You use your voice, your body position and language, and the lunge whip for commands when lungeing. Try to stay level with your horse's shoulder so you can encourage him to go forwards.
You may find that your horse tends to fall in when moving in one direction. Aim to correct this by pointing your lunge whip at his shoulder and say 'out'. You should have the whip pointing level or down rather than up in the air.
If you need to slow down your horse, or halt him, move so that instead of being in line with the shoulder you are in front of his eye line. Say 'steady' or 'halt', depending on what you are aiming to do. If needed, you can bring the whip in front of your horse as you give your command. Ensure you use a different tone of voice to differentiate between downward and upward transitions.
Keep a good contact on the lunge rein - beware of it getting so loose that it touches the ground. If your horse tends to lean on the rein, give and take with the rein to discourage him.
Ensure you work your horse equally in both directions. When you need to change the rein ask your horse to halt and then walk toward him, looping up your lunge line into even loops as you go. Move around the front of your horse, swapping your lunge line and whip over, then step back and encourage your horse to move off, re-establishing the triangle of work.
- Lungeing can be hard work so build up the time gradually. Usually, 10-15 minutes each way is sufficient.
- Remember, whether you are using side reins, a Harbridge or some other training aid, allow your horse to warm up and cool down, without the side reins or aid attached.
- Get your horse listening to you by using lots of transitions.
- If introducing your horse to side reins, have them attached loosely at first and then adjust them as the horse accepts them.
- You can move the horse around the arena or field if you are working on a good surface.
- Make your circles smaller (not less than 10 metres in diameter) and larger again, just as you would in ridden work.
- Ensure your horse is well balanced in walk and trot before asking for canter on the lunge. Ensure you use the full length of the rein so your horse canters a large circle. For more lungeing tips and exercises click here