When used correctly, lungeing is a great way of treating your horse to use his back and core effectively and work in the correct frame.

Claire Lilley, classical dressage trainer and author, explains her techniques to lungeing effectively.

Having done a lot of research with vets and physios into the subject of lungeing using equipment, I personally have found it’s best to go back to basics.

With horses of all levels and ages, equipment can ask too many questions of them and, in a worst case scenario, blow a horse’s mind.

So, if you’d like to try using a Pessoa, for example, I would suggest you seek professional guidance as you learn how it’s used.

Too many people who don’t really know what they’re doing use equipment like this and I’ve witnessed many horses with poll and lumbar region damage as a result.

Scales of training

What people forget is that the scales of training apply even on the ground – your horse is still in work, regardless of whether you’re sitting on his back or not, so rhythm, contact, suppleness and so on, need to be achieved. There’s no quick fix for a hollow horse.

What to do

Your horse needs to be encouraged to lower his head. This will engage and strengthen his abdominal muscles, and help him work in an outline as he develops a stronger core.

Strong, supple horses should be able to stretch in walk, trot and canter with their noses practically on the ground, so use of poles or anything that encourages them to look down may help.

Lungeing in long reins to achieve a contact on both sides is preferable to other gadgets, as at least your hands can allow flexibility. Your horse must be able to use his neck.

Remember to

  • Encourage your horse to stretch down using poles on the ground.
  • Ensure freedom of movement.
  • Move around the arena and change direction regularly. Moving around allows for some straight line work for variety too.

Allow natural movement and rhythm; nothing artificial is beneficial. Moving too fast causes tension; too slow will not develop movement.

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