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How To Lunge A Schooled Horse

How To Lunge A Schooled Horse

VideoJug help you discover how to lunge your horse in a clear, correct and safe manner. With advice from certified instructress Maylyn McEwan, VideoJug show you how to lunge a schooled horse in this simple step by step guide.

Step 1: The benefits of lunging

There are multiple benefits to the practise of lunging. Firstly, it's a great way to exercise a fresh horse before riding him. It is also a very important part of the training process of a young horse as well as a varied form of exercise and is particularly useful when the horse or rider have been injured. But most importantly, it really does improves your horse's 'way of going', which means it's a great tool, to help improve your horse's rhythm and movement. However, if this is your first time lunging, you will need supervision.

Step 2: Tack you will need

So what tack is needed? A schooled horse, already used to lunging, would wear a normal bridle with the noseband and reins taken off and with a cavesson underneath. One of the benefits of lunging off a cavesson is that you don't ruin your horse's lovely soft mouth! A saddle or roller can be used with a breastplate to stop them slipping backwards. And brushing boots should also be worn on all four legs to prevent him kicking himself whilst on a circle.

Side reins are optional. They help the horse to get used to rider-rein contact.

Step 3: Correctly fitting the cavesson

To correctly fit a cavesson place two fingers under the projecting cheekbone. The side straps fit underneath the cheek pieces to block pressure points. But they must be fitted very firmly or the cavesson will slip into your horse's eyes!

Step 4: Attach the side reins

To fit the side reins, attach them to the girth, by passing them under the three straps and then back under the first strap to stop them slipping down. The more schooled and trained the horse is, the higher the side reins should be.

To correctly assess how high to put the reins, look at your horse whilst his neck is in its natural position, whilst standing and see if the side reins exert a contact without you having to pull the head in. However, if this is your first time lunging with side reins do not over tighten them as some horses panic! Next, make sure that both side reins are have been equally fitted, unclip them from the bit and then clip them back onto the saddle or roller. Finally if you choose to use a saddle, twist up the stirrup leathers to stop them falling down.

Step 5: Equipment you will need

The equipment needed to lunge is a lunge line and a lunge whip.

Step 6: Correct attire

The rider should always wear a hat, gloves and some sturdy footwear. This is obviously for safety reasons as some horses can get very excited on the lunge!

Step 7: Begin lunging procedure

Take your horse to the middle of a large enclosed area, at least 20m (65 feet) in diameter and it must be a non-slip surface. Remember that side reins should never be worn when leading the horse for safety reasons.

Position yourself on your horse's left side, without the side reins being clipped on. Your lunge line should be wound up neatly in your left hand and the whip in your right hand. Reassure your horse by stroking his shoulder before proceeding. Patting doesn't actually make much sense to a horse whereas stroking or scratching is normal horse communication! Then quietly ask him to walk away, pointing the whip towards his hind quarters. Allow him, without any restriction on the lunge to walk onto a large circle.

Step 8: Using your voice

The use of voice is very important when schooling, as horses have keen hearing. You need to use a high tone for an upward transition and a low deep voice for a downward transition. Do not worry if your horse offers canter if he is well balanced. Just be aware that lunging on a circle for a long period of time, puts a great strain on your horse legs and joints. If your horse is excitable he could easily slip over and injure himself.

Step 9: Change rein

After five minutes on the le