One common question we receive at Lungeing Training is: How do I get my horse to bend in the circle?
We know that for some trainers this seems almost impossible, but know that it’s NOT! With proper lunging training is absolutely possible to teach your horse to bend around the circle and get it out onto the lunge line feeling relaxed and happy.
Why encourage bend?
While your horse bends around the circle, he/she is developing and improving its muscles from the neck, back, and hind end. Encouraging bend also makes the horses use their inside and outside muscles to create a rhythm around the circle helping them to get flexible and fluid.
Get The Cavesson
The first thing we recommend for your lunging training session is to use a cavesson. If you’re not sure where to get one or the reason to use one, check out our blog post on this! We discourage using a halter especially when you’re trying to achieve bending around the circle. A cavesson distributes even pressure over the nose and throughout the face so you stop your horse from just turning his nose into the circle versus using his neck.
Asking Your Horse to Bend
Just like in riding, we want to encourage your horse to fully bend. When we’re riding, a cue we can look for to achieve this is seeing your horse’s inside eye.
When you’re starting to ask your horse to bend, he’ll often stretch down and out too. That’s great! We want to encourage stretching, too, as this is crucial to your horse being able to sustain a full bend around the circle.
Start with your horse’s walk. As he’s on the lunge line, give a slight half-halt on your cavesson, and encourage him forward. Your horse will either start to bend or stretch down and out. Continue to encourage your horse forward into an upward movement, while gently holding pressure on the cavesson. When your horse gives into the bend, release the pressure on his nose. You can practice this at all three gaits once you feel your horse is strong enough to sustain this at the walk.
You can also use your whip as an extension of your arm, similar to how you’d use your inside leg while riding. Point the end of your whip at your horse’s shoulder as you encourage bend with slight pressure on the cavesson. This should help your horse to move his shoulder under him and turn his nose inward from the neck, causing a nice round bend around the circle.
It’s important to remember when we’re using lunging as a cross-exercise that it will take some time to build your horse’s musculature. While you’re teaching your horse to bend, be sure that you’re allowing breaks for rest as well. This is hard work!