3 Horse Lungeing Exercises To Keep Them Listening

Best inhand exercises for horses

3 Horse Lungeing Exercises To Keep Them Listening

Horse lungeing exercises can be very beneficial to incorporate into routine and can make sure your horse is actually listening to YOU. Starting with the basics is key, so your voice doesn’t get lost in translation when beginning more advance work, which could cause stress and upset for both you and your horse.

To put you on track to success and getting the most from your groundwork sessions, we’ve put together three essential horse lungeing exercises you should master.

Rein Back

On the lunge, horses are told to move forwards, either for education or just to get some energy out of their system. However, this forward-thinking can soon get out of control, increasing speed and ultimately compromising the balance and quality of their work. Therefore, using rein back is the perfect exercise to throw a spanner in horse’s ‘must-go-faster’ thinking and get them in tune to you.

Rein-back is a simple exercise consisting of horse walking backward; their feet moving in diagonal pairs. Not only does it get your horse listening to you, it also helps to engage the hindquarters, instead of your horse pulling it’s self with their forelimbs.


With more hindlimb engagement, the legs swing under their body further, lifting the back and causing the horse’s abdominal muscles to work harder. This can have great benefits for topline development too!

When introducing this exercise, getting close to your horse is a must. Bringing your horse to a halt, start by pushing your horse backwards from the chest, as you would in the stable. Praise each time your horse takes a step backwards and then send them forward. Repeat this, each time applying less pressure and replacing your hands for the end of your lunge whip.


Snowhill Lunge Whip (Amazon; £12.99)


Transitions are a great way to get your horse listening, when riding and when on the lunge.

Make sure to mix up your transitions, so your horse does not know what’s coming next. This could look something like, a halt to walk transition, followed by a direct, walk to canter transition, and then another direct transition to halt. Mix, match and make sure your horse isn’t taking the lead!

Struggling with downwards transitions? Don’t worry, most horse owners do due to the lack of bit control. If you’re struggling to get control, shorten your lunge line, bringing your horse on a smaller circle and developing a firmer contact down the lunge line – just like when riding. Be clear, calm but authoritative with voice commands, and place yourself in front of your normal lunging position. Don’t drop your lunge whip as this can comprise your safety. Instead, point it downward and close to ground, or behind your back if you feel it’s presence is spurring your horse on.


Pole work is great for horses to develop awareness of their surroundings, whilst listening to you as the trainer. Studies have shown pole work to increase lower limb range of motion and symmetry in fore and hind limb lift – perfect for promoting even muscle development and making sure your horse picks up their feet over fences.

3 Horse Lunging Exercises To Keep Them Listening

Pole work also helps to increase hip flexion and therefore hindquarter engagement. This means you don’t have to work as hard to encourage activity from behind, whilst controlling speed and can work on other factors in your horse way of going.

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