My 45 minute Lunge Programme

The Programme

Equipment: The horse needs whatever leg protection you use, a well fitted cavesson, lunge line and lunge whip.

Warm Up:

Start the session by walking about 5m away from your horse and walk large around the whole school with some 10m circles mixed in.

  • 20m x 40m arena: 3 laps around with 2 x 10m circles per long side; change the rein and repeat.
  • 20m x 60m arena: 2 laps around with 3 x 10m circles per long side; change the rein and repeat.

You are looking for a nice relaxed walk, starting to stretch down, not charging off onto the lunge circle and using this time in walk to loosen and relax the muscles.

Warm up in trot:

Then come onto your large lunge circle, you should stand really still so the horse arcs a correct circle around you and ask for a slow tempo trot. You are looking for a trot stretch in the steady tempo, like an athlete just jogging loosely around the track. Mini walk break, another short slow tempo trot stretch, then walk, change the rein and repeat the other way.

Lateral warm up:

Now go in and gather the lunge line up and move the horse sideways. 3 leg yields from centre line to track, 3 sides (not necessarily whole long side...) of shoulder-in, and a rein back.


Now back out to your lunge circle and ask for an active working trot with the nose on the floor, then ask for some trot walk trot transitions, then slow trot forward trot variations. Now a walk breather. Then do the lateral work on the other rein then back out for your activity and transition work. Then to warm down at least a 5 minute walk, active but relaxed, either going large or on the circle. Polos then back to the stable....

Guidance Notes

The initial walking large:

  • Think about your body posture, tall & poised
  • Think about your breathing/relaxation. There is always time!
  • Be in control of the tempo, not too fast nor slow
  • Use your corners (as you would under saddle) Keep the horse active through the corner whereas you will need to slow down as they have further to travel

The 10m circles:

  • Have the same quality walk on the circle as you had on the straight line
  • Picture the circle path and make sure they stay to the contact, not dropping it nor pulling through
  • Watch the footfall, each hind leg should follow the respective front leg
  • An option is to stride count to make sure the circles are the same
  • Feel for which circles, left or right, you feel more control over

Warm up trot:

  • Be in control of 3 main aspects: tempo (energy), circle path and contact
  • Your posture, tall and poised but always thinking about your contact coming through from between your shoulder blades and allowing through the contact
  • Stand still! Only then do you know the horse is arcing a true circle
  • Again, check the footfall, looking for each hind leg to follow the respective front leg
  • Link what you see with the footfall to the contact. Work out which banana shape horse you have

Lateral warm up:

  • Looking for ease of moving forwards & sideways
  • Spacial awareness; they don't crowd you nor pull away from you
  • Balance the amount of drive and amount of contact, hopefully keeping both to a minimum
  • Keep the neck straight in the leg yield
  • Footfall in the shoulder-in: 3 track. Don't get greedy with the angle and turn it into a leg yield down the long side

Active trot on the lunge:

  • Looking now for energy forwards without rushing
  • Check the tracking not only now for hind leg following front leg but also for tracking up
  • Don't drive/aid all the time, establish what you want then be quiet
  • Trot walk transitions, give your preparatory command (I use 'and'...) then your trot walk command. Be consistent, if they don't respond first time use the same aid again, do not change it!
  • Walk trot transitions: looking for the first stride of trot to match the 2nd, 3rd etc. Don't let the horse amble through to the trot
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