Lungeing is a great way to give your horse a really good workout. Dressage rider and trainer Sarah Ridd shows how to make every session effective and fun.

When done correctly lungeing offers so many benefits to you and your horse. It’s a great way to improve your bond, as well as giving you the chance to watch your horse from the ground so you can see how he moves and where he may be carrying any tension.

Lungeing encourages your horse to use and develop the right muscles, which will then make a difference to his way of going when you ride him.

It also improves suppleness and balance, as well as adding variety to his work. This type of work is quite hard, so keep your sessions short — no more than 30 minutes — and shorter still if he’s not used to being lunged.

Follow my tips and advice to boost your lungeing skills. They will also help you learn to recognise when your horse is working correctly.

The right kit
I like to keep the lungeing equipment I use really simple — all you need is a roller (or saddle), a lunge cavesson, your horse’s bridle and a set of side reins.

The idea of using side reins is to give your horse a contact to work into — mimicking the contact you have on the reins when you ride.

Personally, I prefer to use side reins without elastic inserts as I find they give a more consistent contact for him to work into.

I also lunge off a cavesson rather than a bridle as it doesn’t interfere with the action of the side reins, plus your instructions to your horse are clearer.

It’s also important that you wear the right kit. Make sure you wear a riding hat, a pair of gloves and comfortable footwear — lungeing is a good workout for you too!

The right length
Adjusting the side reins to the correct length is really important. Too long and they’re no use at all and won’t provide your horse with a contact to work into.

At the correct length, once fastened, your horse’s nose should be a few inches in front of the vertical. Another useful check is to see if there’s an upside down ‘V’ shape in the jugular area.

If your horse isn’t used to wearing side reins, start with them a little longer to begin with. He can then get used to the feel of them before you gradually shorten them.

    Adjusting the side reins to the correct length for your horse will ensure that he works into the contact and builds the right muscle.
  • Move around the arena. You don’t need to stick to doing endless circles while you’re lungeing. Make it fun and interesting for your horse and for you.
  • Try using a turn on the forehand to change the rein. It’s a really good suppling exercise.

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