How often do you lunge your horse? It’s easy to underestimate the benefits of lungeing, but not only is it an opportunity to work on the fundamentals of training, it also gives you a chance to assess how your horse is moving.

Tune your horse to your voice aids and encourage forwardness with this lungeing workout from dressage rider Hayley Watson-Greaves.

1. Forward transitions

This exercise teaches your horse to move forwards, helping towards medium trot and medium canter work. It also helps improve his balance.

  1. Transition from trot to walk three times.
  2. In trot, ask him to transition to a more forward trot by stepping forward with your leg towards his shoulder and using your voice. Flick your whip if needs be.
  3. Aim for five good transitions from trot to forward trot before asking for canter.
  4. Repeat on the other rein.

Your horse will need to push off the ground with his hind leg as you ask for more forwardness. With enough practise, this will help to strengthen his hind legs.

2. Spiral in and out

This exercise teaches your horse to move sideways by lungeing on a spiral.

  1. Ask him to walk on a 20m circle.
  2. Bring him in to a 12m circle in walk.
  3. Ask him to move back out to a 20m circle. To encourage him out, step forward, point the lungeing whip towards his shoulder (if needed) and use a clear voice aid, such as “over”.
  4. Reduce the circle back to 12m.
  5. Ask for trot and then spiral back to a 20m circle.
  6. Repeat the exercise on the other rein.

If you want to make this exercise harder and your horse is fit and established enough in his training, ask him to spiral in and out in canter. This will really help to engage his hind legs.

3. Incorporate poles

This exercise will help improve your horse’s balance and stride length. Set out a few poles in a fan shape on a 20m circle. Leave six to eight steps between each pole, depending on your horse’s stride length.

  1. Walk your horse in a circle across the end of the poles nearest you.
  2. Ask him to spiral out from that circle until he reaches the middle of the poles. If you want a slightly bigger stride, aim for the outside of each of the poles.
  3. Repeat on the other rein.
  4. Your horse should be stretching his neck down as he steps over each pole.
  5. Cool him down in walk while allowing him to stretch his neck.

Meet the expert: Hayley Watson-Greaves was crowned British Dressage supreme national champion in 2017. She trains and teaches from her base in south Gloucestershire.

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