Lunging is a useful tool for riders of all levels. Lunging enables you to see what your horse looks like when it’s working (something that’s tricky unless you have school mirrors or someone to video you on hand…) and is a quick way to exercise them when time is tight. It can get you through a dark and frozen winter without your horse totally losing condition, but there can be a downside. Lunging can be perceived as dull!
If you get a little bit bored standing in the school watching your horse walk, trot and canter around in circles, the chances are they aren’t finding it particularly stimulating either! So, what can you do to ensure that your horse finds lunging sessions engaging AND you’re getting the most out of them from a training perspective? Here are our top tips to take your lunging to a whole new level:
Move around the school
Unless you’re using a lunging pen (and they are a bit boring for both horses and handlers and they limit what you can do…), try walking around the school at the same time as lunging. That means your horse still works on a circle, but every now and then the middle of the circle has moved in a new direction. Not only does this ensure the horse has to listen and pay attention to you, it also stops you digging a circle in the school surface in one area!
Work on transitions
If you normally start at walk and once the horse is warmed up, work up through the gaits to canter and back down before changing the rein, why not mix things up? Asking for a combination of walk, trot and canter several times on both reins will keep the horse paying attention to you and makes it more interesting for them.
Use poles and cavaletti
Poles and cavaletti are both fantastic ways to not only make a lunging session more interesting, but also get your horse working harder. Placing poles in an arc for them to walk or trot over will make sure they think about where they place their feet and can encourage shortening and lengthening of stride. Raised poles or cavaletti are great for making the horse pick their feet up and really engage their topline and hindquarters. Do be aware that working over raised poles is tiring for a horse, so don’t overdo it.
Add long reining to the mix
Lunging isn’t the only way to work your horse from the ground! The art of long reining might look like it’s trickier than lunging, but you’ll find you pick it up quite easily. Start off by working on your steering and communication on the outer track of the school and then mix in circles, serpentines and more once you’re more confident. Don’t forget to wear comfy boots if you’re going to work them in trot on the long lines!
Use the EquiAmi to make the most of sessions
Working a horse, even on a full 20 metre circle, is tiring for them after a while and can put stress on their feet and legs. You can use the EquiAmi while lunging or long reining to ensure the horse is using their topline properly and building the right muscle. We recommend just 20 minutes (so 10 mins max on each rein) 3 times a week, so you don’t need to be spending heaps of time going in circles. Let us know how you get on!