You’ve just gotten a new horse, but he’s only green broke. You’re working with a trainer but you’re not ready to back your horse yet.
Or, your horse is coming off of an injury and you really want to continue working with her while she’s recovering.
Maybe you’ve had an injury, fall, or fearful moment yourself and you’re just not ready to ride yet.
What do you do?
This is where lunging training comes in!
Make a Plan
It’s easy to get lost in the what-ifs when your horse is recovering, young, or otherwise not rideable. What if he loses his strength? What if I don’t teach him properly? How will she be well-rounded?
First, we recommend starting with a lunging training plan. This is where you set out your goals, training exercises, and schedule for lunging over the next 6-8 weeks, or whatever works best for you and your horse.
Your lunging training plan should start with a manageable goal. For example, you could want your horse to gain hind end muscle during her rehab. You could work towards developing a solid rhythm with your youngster. Or, you could want your mare to step more under herself to start working on self-carriage.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s reasonable for you and your horse. It’s important to remember that just like going to the gym, lunging is a workout for our horses and they need time to build up the correct muscle on the lunge. Be sure that each lunging sessions starts with a warm-up period and ends with a cool-down session, free of any auxiliary lunging aids.
Continue Where You Left Off
Once you’ve nailed down your goal, you can start planning out your lunging exercises. Include exercises that work towards your goal over time. If you’re looking to improve hind end engagement, for example, you can plan to add in trot poles, or change the circle size.
If you’re working with a horse who is only unable to be ridden for a short amount of time, you can focus on the same goals you had when you were riding. Lunging can enhance these goals as you are able to see your horse’s movement from the ground instead of under saddle.
If you were working on auto-changes, you can use the lunge line to build up muscle in their hind end and work to get your horse to stretch their long back muscle. You can ask them to step in and under themselves to start to develop self-carriage. Building the muscle on the ground while you’re unable to ride will help you to have a stronger horse when you get back on.
Improve Your Horse’s Strength During their Downtime
Whether you’re working with a youngster or your horse needs rehabbing, lunging training is a great way to build muscle!
If you’re working with a youngster, remember that they will need more time to build muscle. Taking note of your horse’s age and ability, start with exercises that they are comfortable with first. If your horse is brand-new to lunging, you’ll need to teach them how to lunge before you move onto muscle building.
Start with easy exercises your horse can feel confident doing. Once your horse is confident on the lunge line, you can add in exercises to start building muscle. Start with trot poles, hill work, or other exercises that encourage your horse to build their back muscle. If you’re working with a horse who has never lunged before, check out these exercises on getting started.
Learn Something New
It can feel never-ending when your horse is on downtime. How do you keep things interesting during this time?
Learn something new! You can learn groundwork exercises, new tricks, or work with something like liberty training. You can incorporate stretching with carrots, start teaching Spanish steps, or add in new objects in the training arena.
Whatever you do, be sure that you and your horse are enjoying it! Whether you’re working with a youngster or a rehabber, lunging training is beneficial for strength training and connection while you can’t ride.