Lungeing can help your horse to balance himself, develop a more cadenced trot, improve his canter transitions and, when done correctly, it can even help you to solve some problems under saddle. Plus, if you’re short of time, a good work on the lunge for just a few minutes can work wonders as it’s physically demanding on your horse. Here our expert Diane Followell helps you crack the basic technique.
Prepare to lunge
To Lunge your horse you’ll need a cavesson. The cavesson should fit snuggly across his nose, above the soft tissue so he can breathe, it shouldn’t slip round. If you plan to ride after lunging, fit the cavesson over your horse’s bridle but don't attach the lunge line directly to his bit as movements in your hands are amplified on the line making it's easy to accidentally pull on his mouth. As his handler, wearing a riding hat, gloves and sensible footwear is highly recommended.
How to ask your horse to lunge
To lunge your horse on a circle in walk, follow these simple steps:
Position yourself in line with where your saddle would be, creating a triangle - you at the point, the lunge line creating the line towards his head and your whip creating the line towards his tail
Use any words for your instructions, but be 100% consistent in what you say. A mix of two or three words and clicks works well e.g. for walk to trot, say your horse’s name, give few clicks and say a drawn out “trot” (for upward transitions use an upward intonation and for downward transitions use a softer, lower voice
Send your horse onto a large circle for three or four circles of walk, keeping your elbows soft as you would when riding and maintaining an elastic feel down the lunge line to the cavesson
You can stand on one spot, turning around your outside foot, or walk round a small circle, roughly the size of a bin lid
Keep your whip hand very still until you need to act as continually flicking the whip makes it lose its meaning. At no point should your horse feel afraid of the whip
More about our expert
Diane Followell is a classical dressage trainer who spent three years as a student of dressage master Nuno Oliviera. She uses a harmonious approach to achieve lightness trust and understanding between horse and rider. Find out more at www.classicalriders.info