View Full Version : Lunging Exercise Ideas Needed

Jan. 19, 2011, 10:47 AM
I'm in need of some exercises for my horse on the lunge since I busted my ankle last week. I figure I should be able to drive (if the Dr clears me, though technically I can now) to the barn next week and get him some useful exercise. I don't mind giving him a vacation once in while, but I think I need the barn again after 10 days of not going and he had almost all of December off.

I know how to lunge and I do try to get Goober out by himself once every 2 weeks during the summer, but I've never done it solely without riding. I don't want him bored, which is easily done with this guy! I can't swing training rides 4-5x/wk while I'm laid up financially, but I could maybe once a week, though Goober and trainer have BIG differences in opinion...

Here's what we need to work on:
- Using hind end more, more impulsion (his hocks are fusing, but cleared for work), lightening the front end
- Consistent canter, I know the above issue correlates, but this is big too!
- Confidence to new jumps or new anything, getting over the scariness
- We're planning on trying out some Jumper shows Feb/Mar/Apr and going Novice this summer with some dressage schooling shows thrown in. Oh and foxhunting too come summer!

Here's what we have to work with:
- Large indoor
- Roundpen, if it gets nice enough
- Side reins with donuts
- Vienna Lunge Lines
- Lots of jump standard and poles, roll top, boxes, flower boxes (We can make a jump chute if I ask BO first)
- Goober does free lunge as well


Jan. 19, 2011, 11:22 AM
When I'm trying to get my mare to focus and work more on the longe, I set out poles on each quadrant (so 4 total), and work her in side reins over the poles. I also like to use lots of transisitions, too.

If you are really ambitious and good at measuring, build a half circle with angled trot poles or set out 3 to 4 angled canter rails. Longe just inside of those until the horse is ready, then grow your circle out to them and let the horse figure it out.

Hope your ankle gets better soon!

And whoops - didn't see/know your guy had hock issues! In that case, netg is totally on it, the fewer small circles, the better. Will he ground drive? You can do all sorts of fun stuff that way, though it may be harder on you b/c of your ankle.

Jan. 19, 2011, 12:20 PM
With the hock issues, I'd probably try to set up some chutes and things, to avoid spending all your time in a circle.

I would do a lot of longeing with the side reins set long and low - to really encourage downward stretch. Since the strengthened topline affects everything else you do, it will help to keep it in good shape while you're not riding.

With my horse, I find doing exercises without a rider first helps him understand what he needs to do with his body before my balance confuses him. We do spiral in and out on the longe, lengthen and shorten trot stride, and lots of transitions. I figure if he can't do a proper walk-canter-walk without me on him, he needs more strength before I expect him to just step from one gait to another under saddle.

It is important to ask your horse to still be balanced without a rider - ask for an inward bend on the circle, don't let the haunches really come in to play (that's my horse's favorite buck/kick position), or counterbend and drop the inside shoulder, etc.

I like the idea of the poles around the longe circle. I have been known to put a jump or a few poles out beyond the circle and walk toward it to go over it once, then back into a circle.

Jan. 19, 2011, 01:31 PM
To mix it up, I'll go out into the jump field and have my horse go over a low cross rail (w/o tall standards) while remaining on a circle. I did it on Saturday and my guy got a great workout.

Jan. 20, 2011, 05:03 PM
To work your guy on the lunge - try lunging in concentric circles, using the entire length of the arena. This is allow for some work on straighter/bigger figures.

Anyway you have some barn kids who would like the opportunity to ride your guy instead of paying for training rides? Perhaps you can give said rider a mini "lesson" of their own, so they aren't riding your guy unsupervised...

Jan. 20, 2011, 05:55 PM
Yeah, definately pole work with this guy. I might bring out the circle of death, mwahaha! Gotta keep his little mind thinking of stuff I want him to do, not what he thinks is interesting!

I do try to move around the ring to keep from grinding a circle in the footing or use mostly free lunging. If I was certain I could set up a bunch of chutes without taking all day on a bum ankle, I would/will. Going to talk to trainer about at least a jumping chute.

With the cold weather, not a ton of people are out riding without purpose, so asking someone to ride the Goobs for me probably won't happen. Summertime, sure people have lots of free time outside and such, not so much in the winter! Lesson kids usually trailer in therefore have their own pony/horse. I'm at more of a training facility and not so much lesson barn. But I could always suggest to trainer if someone wanted more experience.

Becky Rocky
Jan. 20, 2011, 06:17 PM
I just want to say sorry about your situation, I've been there, but it was when I reached 5 months of pregnancy and my dr. would no longer let me ride. I did a variety of things, some of the above, and kept her in shape. You can do it, and may even develop a stronger bond from working on the ground - good luck!

Jan. 20, 2011, 07:45 PM
- Using hind end more, more impulsion (his hocks are fusing, but cleared for work), lightening the front end.
I would strongly urge you to specifically discuss lunging with you vet--or whoever "cleared" him for work. Lunging is really tough on the hocks. I've had horses with hock issues cleared for work but NOT for lunging.

Other than that and the good suggestions here already think about lots of transitions, great for lightening the front end. With my young horse to keep him from getting bored I'll do upward and downward transitions on a single trip around the circle. I bump up the work teaching things like canter/walk and walk/canter. Add in some work in hand also. It goes a long way in installing obedience, submission and focus on me. All good stuff.

Jan. 20, 2011, 09:22 PM
I like lunge my horses over alot of poles.

I'll do walk poles that are all kinds of different spacing so they have to pick their way through.

then with a standard on one side with the pole about 18 to 22" tall on the standard then let it slant down to the ground. approx 3 feet apart for a good trot set. when a horse is new to this excercise, I'll make it ground poles with 2 or 3 raised then slowly add so all 6 poles have one end elevated. i'll do this and let them work to where it's higher. just a few passes each way.

I then take out every other pole and place it under a still raised pole making canter bounces.

i will also poles in a quadrant as listed above.

importantly, i only do this for about 20-30 minutes max (30 minutes if i've had to reset alot, 20 if allgoes well). it doesn't over do it on the horse, gives 'em something to think about but works them too.

I do this more during the winter since i have to use the old dusty indoor, but it gets the job done. my horses actuall are eager to do it, they love it.

Jan. 21, 2011, 10:13 AM
I'm not planning on lunging for more than 20min if on a line (ie, circling). If he's free and I'm using a chute, well as much as he can tolerate without going overboard, probably no more than 40min with walking included and stops with me setting up poles.

I'm thinking my best bet is to start out on a lunge line days 1 and 2, get his transitions nice and obedient and then build a chute with ground poles, gradually building gymnastics as the days go on.

Thanks for all the ideas!

Jan. 21, 2011, 12:36 PM

LOTS and lots....

Too many people just go round and round and this creates a lack of self carriage, with and without side reins.

My guys know how to drop or increase in gear or gait as frequently as 4 times per circle. (12, 3, 6, 9 o'clock)

And this isn't just walk - trot trot - canter. Include shortened trot, lengthened walk, extended canted and all the variables in between.

However, bear in mind this is a workout and a half. Way more strenuous than just going round and round trotting. So allow for it. His stomach and butt muscles are likely not set up for a lot of this so start slow.

Overall though a month of this brought in slowly made a big difference on the effectiveness of my half halts. Oh and use your voice so you have that bridge to a connection of doing this in the tack as well.

And for the love of god, don't be the person that says... "ho.....ho.....ho....ho" as the horse circles endlessly not listening. They are domesticated animals and you're the boss. He stops when you say so! And if he doesn't it's your job to make him. How else do we expect them to honor our leadership when we get to a scary jump and say "GO!"