LUNGING - Improve outline, engagement and obedience

Great tips on getting the ground rules well established.

Part 1 looked at getting the horse going - now for some tips to make lunging an enjoyable process for you and your horse. 

bobby lunge2

How you use your voice whilst lunging is important, the general rule is that when asking for an upward transition you raise your voice at the end of the command, and for a downward transition make the voice lower and slow the word i.e. walk to trot -tterrrooTT and from trot to walk - waaallllkkkkk.


Be patient and be consistent in your requests, do not change your mind or use your body language to force the response - Repetitive requests will eventually be responded to and will become more immediate with practice.


The STAND or HALT request must be maintained on the arc - do not allow the horse to turn in! Remember, practice makes perfect.
Once the walk and halt transitions are polished and your horse is responding to you, progress to trot. Watch your horse's gait closely; the walk should be a purposeful, forward going, clear, four-time beat and the trot should become a well-balanced two-time beat, not hurried or choppy.
With practice and persistence the transitions will flow without the horse raising his head or rushing into the stride, the sessions will become slightly longer and more demanding.  

HA2222Bob Atkins
Watch for:
Whether you use lungeing for training, exercising or just for a change in routine, these early steps should be enforced not only for the good of the horse and his happiness but also for safety reasons.

Horses which have received mixed messages, or indeed forceful introductions to lungeing, can be quite dangerous and may run towards you, run away violently, rear, bronc or hurt themselves by racing around a tight circle in pure fear.
None of these problems are pleasant for either the horse or trainer and if they do occur you must go back to square one and repeat or sort out the ground rules.

Once a relaxed attitude has been achieved, lungeing can improve the outline of your horse, the engagement of the hind legs and general obedience. It also gives the rider an opportunity to really study their horse from the ground and observe how he copes in each gait and whether or not he is struggling with a particular transition or balance on one rein.
Training aids
In addition to a roller or saddle, many training aids can be used whilst lungeing which help with head carriage, hind leg engagement, toning the top line, the abdominal muscles and improving overall balance. Always ask for professional advice when fitting such aids as they can  cause problems or even damage your horse if fitted incorrectly.

Side reins, if fitted and used correctly, they can 'hold the horse together' more than just having a lunge line from the head. They act like your reins whist riding as the horse feels the comfort of being supported and will generally concentrate more and not get head strong. They fit from the bit rings to the roller or saddle, however they should not be used to the horse's head position as this is constrictive and has no real benefi and will cause the horse to become very heavy in your hands when riding. The reins with rubber or elastic inserts are a choice because they allow the horse to work up to the bit and therefore maintain his own natural balance. 
lungeing Using double reins for lungeing is a much more advanced technique; and is more beneficial, especially with young horses as you can guide them much easier on the arc, and teach them the sort of contact to expect on their mouth whilst riding.

The lines run from the bit rings, through either rings on a roller or stirrup irons on a saddle (the stirrup irons must be tied together along the girth line) and around the rump. The control is much greater, however there can be difficulties if the horse is fractious, as the lines can get caught under the dock or they can get tangled.

Alternating between long reining and lungeing encourages confidence in the horse to go forward and is very helpful in teaching the horse about straight lines and halts. Which ever activity you enjoy the technique of lungeing will help you and your horse in some way.

For more Lunging related articles