Lunging is can be a very useful tool in improving on your horses abilities, strength and balance but is often an exercise we under appreciate and under use.
In this blog we focus on how lunging can be used to help improve your horses balance. Horses, like humans, have a center of gravity that they need to maintain to stay balanced. Maintaining balance is essential for your horses in any discipline, whether they are jumping, dressage, or just out on a hack.
One of the best ways to improve your horse's balance is through lunging exercises. Lunging is a technique that can help your horse develop only balance but strength, flexibility, and coordination. Here are 5 exercises to help with your horses balance.
- Spiral Exercise: One of the best exercises you can do with your horse to help them is to do a swirling circle exercise. This will teach your horse to shift its weight and balance as the diameter of the circle changes. Start by lunging your horse on a large circle, and then ask them to transition into a smaller circle. Once they are on the smaller circle, ask them to transition back onto the larger circle. This exercise can be repeated in both directions, and gradually, make the circles smaller and smaller to increase the level of difficulty. This exercise will help your horse develop the strength and coordination they need to stay balanced through transitions.
- Shoulder-in lunging: Shoulder-in is a dressage movement that encourages the horse to step under its body with its inside hind leg, and bring its outside shoulder in. This exercise is great for developing balance and suppleness. To perform this exercise, start by lunging your horse on a large circle. Then, ask them to bring their inside shoulder in towards the center of the circle, while keeping their hindquarters on the outside of the circle. This will encourage your horse to engage their inside hind leg and improve their balance.
- Pole work lunging: Incorporating poles into your lunging routine is an effective way to improve your horse's balance. Set up a series of poles on the ground, and then lunge your horse over them. This exercise will encourage your horse to lift their legs higher and step more carefully, which can help improve their balance and coordination as well as get them to engage their core muscles.
- Transitions: Transitions are an excellent way to develop balance in your horse. Start by lunging your horse on a large circle, and then ask them to transition into a trot. After a few strides, ask them to transition back into a walk. This exercise will encourage your horse to shift their weight and balance themselves as they change gait. It will also help get your horse to stay interested and focus on what you are asking as the task keeps changing.
- Hill work lunging: If you have access to a hill, incorporating hill work into your lunging routine can be an effective way to improve your horse's balance. Start by lunging your horse on a flat surface, and then gradually move onto a slight incline. This will encourage your horse to work harder and engage their core muscles, which can improve their balance and strength.
Lunging exercises are a great way to improve your horse's balance. By incorporating a variety of exercises into your routine, you can help your horse develop the strength, flexibility, and coordination they need to perform at their best. It is also a break from your normal riding routine and a good way to bond with your horse by working on voice commands in a different way than what you normally do. Remember to always start with basic exercises and gradually progress to more challenging ones to prevent injury and help your horse progress safely. A balanced horse is a happy and healthy horse.