Lunging can be a great way to exercise our horses, and especially in the winter months when the weather here in the UK is ‘tricky’ to say the least, lunging can be quick and effective for fitness, core strength, flexibility and maintaining muscle tone.
There are some instances where we can’t lunge our horses, but for those who can and would like more information, read on!
Tip 1: Keep your circle as large as possible
You can do this by walking a circle yourself, so that you are keeping your horse out towards a 20 metre circle instead of getting down to a 10-15 metre circle.
Remember when we are lunging, we are on a continuous circle which can be difficult for the horse, so it’s important to make your circle as large as possible so that we don’t risk injury. Just think about doing this yourself - if you were asked to run in a circle of 10 metre diameter for 5 minutes, it would be hard work!
I like horses to be able to find their own balance, and learn to carry themselves in good posture, and working on the bigger circle allows that space for them to balance and develop self carriage.
Tip 2: Warm up in walk for 5-10 mins before trotting
When you bring your horse into the arena to exercise, allowing him 5-10 minutes to walk and stretch and get his muscles and joints warmed up is a really effective way to start your session.
I always advise a good walk warm up in any form of exercise, and it applies to lunging too…your horses work will be much improved by spending time walking before anything else!
If you were going out for a run yourself, you would do some prep first, you wouldn’t get out of bed and start running immediately, you would do some warm up before running to ensure that you don’t tear your muscles etc - it’s the same for our horses.
I find the longer I spend in walk the better the quality of the trot!
Tip 3: Carrot stretch before lunging!
Well carrot stretch before any exercise session with your horse!
I know I do go on about carrot stretches but they really are great exercises for our horses. If you use them directly before exercise, you are switching their core muscles on, and engaging/stretching both sides of the body, and stretching the topline, helping your horse to engage good posture in his exercise session.
And good posture in exercise is crucial - if you allow your horse to be exercised in bad posture, you are just reinforcing and strengthening bad posture.
Tip 4: Use a training aid
Lunging aids are super helpful as they will help you to train your horse to move in good posture.
If you struggle with your horse working in a hollow frame, let a training aid help you with this. If your horse continually works in bad posture (hollow back, high head/neck carriage, head to outside of circle) you are risking injury, and simply reinforcing and strengthening bad posture.
I use and recommend the Equiami lunge aid, it’s simple to fit and use, and teaches your horse to carry himself within the ropes. It isn’t fixed to the roller, so your horse doesn’t ‘set’ against it - this is what I like about it the most.
I hope these tips are helpful and that you can implement them to improve your lunging sessions.
And if you would like even more help with this topic - I have got my Lunging EBOOK finished!!!
‘How to lunge your horse effectively’ is the 6th EBOOK in my series!!
I have put lots of tips in here, starting with posture, and including tack, training aids, your positioning, inside bend, walk/trot/canter, keeping your horse focussed on you, communication, and a Troubleshooting section.
Exercise Ebook Bundle: I also have a Bundle of Ebooks to help you with getting the most out of your exercise sessions, it includes: Core Exercises, Simple Groundwork and Effective Lunging. Scroll down to the bottom of the Ebooks page on my site for details!
Here is the link to my Ebooks page if you would like to know more: Ebook series
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