Lungeing is a method used to exercise a horse or to teach him something new without a rider on his back. (See left pic). Lungeing lets you exercise your horse, allowing you to see his movements, which can lead to a better understanding of how your horse moves beneath you when you are in the saddle. It can also reveal physiology problems and injuries.
Ten tips on lungeing your horse –
Getting started – when you are lungeing, you are sending or driving the horse around you in a circle. The horse will mirror the alignment of your body and the circle you are walking. First, take a step away from your horse and stand towards his rear at the same time.
Continue at that sort of diagonal, creating a triangle shape with you as one point, and the horse’s nose and rump as the other two points. Once you are behind his shoulder line, lift your whip or use your voice and/or your body to ask him to move forward.
You’re now lungeing, in a very small circle!
Slowly get him to move out by enlarging the circle. Do not let your horse cut corners whilst lungeing. Use a lunge whip to keep him on course.
Make sure you keep a strict and constant rule regime. Horses usually need kind authority and may start to misbehave given the opportunity!
Try not to let your horse change direction whilst lungeing, without permission. You may need a helper to guide him from the outside when you get started, if he tries to turn around.
If your horse favours one way of going, then you may need to lunge them twice as much in the opposite direction to develop even muscles.
Body language is important when lungeing. For example, turning your body to make a wide, big outline when you want the horse to go forward and then turning side on, to slow him down, will help him learn to read your body language as well as your voice directions.
Don’t let your horse get behind you. Stay behind your horse’s shoulder to drive him forward.
If your horse is pulling on the lung line so much that you feel he is slightly dragging you, just keep tipping your horse’s head towards you in firm, gentle pulls on the rope. Try not to move your feet, unless it’s just to pivot on one spot. The more you chase your horse around, the less respect you will have. Plus you will soon get tired!
The horse is controlled by the person doing the lungeing, so this form of training is also a great way to teach the rider too. It helps the trainer instruct the rider in one place and focus on specific exercises or areas of improvement, with the trainer in charge of the horse.
If you’d like to come for targeted lunge lessons here at Castle Leslie Estate, why not book our equestrian and wellness holiday package – it’s available for either three or five days. The trip includes daily indoor riding, and you can also arrange for lungeing tuition. The trip includes three or five nights’ accommodation, with three x 45 minute indoor riding lessons each day, one consultation with a Sports Physiotherapist to review your general physical wellbeing, a daily spa ritual (full body massage), use of the sauna and outdoor hot tub daily, one 70-minute reflexology or reiki treatment, and two sessions of Yoga or Pilates!
The trip also includes breakfast and a light lunch each day, and a two-course evening meal in Conor’s Bar, each evening. (Three Day Package from €1,205pps; 5 Day package from €1,775pps).