How to canter your horse on the lunge

Improve your horse's canter with some simple work on the lunge. Our expert Diane Followell explains how to do it correctly.

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Developing your horse's canter on the lunge helps improve balance and engagement.

If your horse tends to rush in canter, by improving his balance he'll find it easier to slow down and maintain his canter for longer.

If he's a little slow with his inside hind, a balanced canter transition will help him engage it more. 

How to lunge in canter 

  • Have your horse in a well-balanced trot on a large circle.
  • The place to ask for a canter will depend on your horse. If he tends to hug the wall, then ask on a closed side of the circle.
  • The first few times you may find that he runs on the trot rather than canter. Repeat your instruction and flick your whip towards his hock, keep pushing until he canters, then stop pushing unless he loses the rhythm.
  • If he loses his balance and becomes disunited, or if he changes lead to the outside leg, then come back to trot.
  • Reestablish the trot rhythm and balance and then ask for canter again. 
  • Initially the canter may be unbalanced and your horse may rush on, if this happens very gently give and take on the lunge line to rebalance him, use your voice to maintain the canter rhythm.
  • When he returns to trot, he may run on the forehand. Gently steady him with the lunge line and your voice so he regains his balance and natural trot rhythm.
  • Don't expect your horse to canter for a long time. One circle is enough to start with.
  • Give him plenty of breaks - remember that lungeing is demanding both mentally and physically for the horse.