Part One: Make the most of lunging

lunging

A 20-minute lunging session can be the equivalent of a 45-minute ridden session.

Lunging is about much more than just keeping your horse fit and competition ready when you don’t have time to ride. Combined with your normal schooling routine, it can build up suppleness, rhythm and balance without the weight or hindrance of a rider on your horse’s back, and it can be useful to get the bucks out if you haven’t been able to ride for a few days. When lunging, you get the opportunity to watch your horse move from the ground, so that you can observe how he carries himself and monitor his soundness. Lunging is often used in the training of young horses before they are backed, so that they get used to the feel of walking, trotting and cantering in a controlled area with tack on, and learn to respond to voice commands.

Do

  • Lunge in an enclosed space, preferably a purpose-built lunging arena, which should be at least 20 m in diameter.
  • Ensure that the surface is even and free of stones.
  • Protect your horse’s legs with overreach and brushing boots or bandages.
  • If lunging in a saddle, make sure the stirrups are firmly secured, so that they don’t slide down and bang on your horse’s sides.
  • Wear gloves to prevent rope burns. It’s also advisable to wear closed shoes and, if your horse is likely to kick out, a helmet.
  • Use a proper lunge whip and learn to crack it. This is far more effective than trying to chase your horse with it. It’s there to encourage him, not to punish him.

Don’t

  • Lead your horse to or from the arena with the side reins attached.
  • Wear spurs, as they could get tangled in the lunge rein and trip you up.
  • Work your horse on a tight circle for long periods, as it puts too much strain on the legs. A 20-minute lunging session can be the equivalent of a 45-minute ridden session.
  • Use a dressage whip instead of a lunge whip. You will have to get too close to your horse to use it and risk being kicked if he bucks or lashes out.
  • Clip the lunge rein onto the inside bit ring, as the bit could be pulled through the horse’s mouth.

By: Ian Tucker

The full article appears in the The Winter Guide issue of HQ (July 124) > Shop now