Whether you’re looking to mix up your horse’s routine or work him effectively without the weight of a rider, lungeing offers any number of possibilities to enhance your training regime. But once you’ve both mastered the basics of lungeing, it can be tricky to know what to do to take it to the next level. Integrating more advanced exercises and polework into your sessions will help increase your horse’s physical and mental stimulation, paying dividends in terms of his development versus the return on investment for your time.
A working warm-up
As with any exercise session, it’s important to allow your horse the chance to warm up before getting down to work. Leave the side reins (or other training aid of choice) unattached or loose to ensure he’s relaxed and taking the contact forward before you begin to alter his frame. Focus on establishing an even rhythm, building in lots of transitions within and between gaits to make sure he’s listening to you and engaging his hindlegs before you start to ask for more.
Exercise – develop power
Being brave with your use of tempo, collection and extension will challenge your horse, help him develop strength, and can be incorporated into his work at every level of training.
What it does: Improves your horse’s strength, balance, co-ordination and power.
How to do it: This exercise is all about transitions. Begin by working in trot, going from working trot to a half trot by asking your horse to slow his tempo but continuing to ask for energy and activity from his hindquarters to promote collection and power. Then ask him to move back up to working or medium trot, depending on his level of training.
TOP TIP If you want to increase the level of difficulty even more, use direct transitions. Work on trot – halt – trot transitions or walk – canter – walk, to keep him concentrating on you while testing him physically. Don’t worry if he can’t do this perfectly to begin with. Keep practising and praise him when he does well.
Pick up a copy of January Horse&Rider, on sale 14 November, for more great exercises you can incorporate into your lungeing sessions.