Yes, I bet that blog post title got your attention & made you think what the hell is this one getting up to now! Well don’t be alarmed, no naked riding was actually involved, don’t let the title deceive you, this post is all about doing lunge lessons with no reins & no stirrups, sorry to get the hopes up of some of our male readers!!
Lunge lessons are something everyone should try invest in and try to do as much as possible, they are so beneficial. Not only do they focus on your position, but also your seat & balance and lets be honest your fitness!!
What does a Lunge Lesson involve
All it involves really is a tacked up horse, a lunge pen or an arena, a lunge line & your trusted instructor! I was lucky enough to have Heather who not only is a qualified instructor, but she has done a handful of lunge lessons that I have watched from the ground so I knew I was in good hands. We decided it was best not to use Dante but to use her horse Freya instead as she was used to previous lunge lessons.
Simply to fix my leg position, getting myself to stretch down & wrap my legs around the horse, not gripping with my knees, and well sitting back in the saddle with my shoulders back (my absolute no.1 worse habit)
Exercises We Tackled
Beginning in walk, heather got a look for my seat/position before we started tackling anything major! She needed to have a feel for what she had to work with.
We focused on doing some stretching exercises first, stretching my legs long and low, keeping my heels down and toes pointed in. (straight away bad habits came creeping in, those toes did not want to stay in!!)
Focusing then on my upper body position, I placed my hands on my hips, Relaxing my elbows, stretching up tall in the saddle all whilst still pushing my weight down into my heels. As I got used to this we began doing some more complicated exercises as we progressed up the gaits with Freya.
Progressing in the trot we started focusing on my upper body position, the good thing with Freya, if your leaning to far forward she takes off & starts to take the piss. So with that it helped me sit back in my seat with my shoulders back. It took some time to get used too, keeping in mind that I still had to focus on keeping my leg stretched down & low, wrapped around her with those pesky toes pointed in, over time I was doing this naturally and didn’t had to think about it at all.
We progressed to do some upper body exercises in trot, including
- Trotting with my hands on my knees,
- My arms stretched out wide like I was an airplane
- Riding as if I had an imaginary set of reins in my hand, focusing on the correct position as to where my hands should be as if I was holding reins
- Place my arms behind my back, then bringing them forward doing slow arm circles
We repeated all of these exercises on both reins, and by this stage I could really start to feel the burn! My body was definitely not used to using its core correctly, or using certain parts of my legs in the correct manner that I should be.
In Canter, well lets just say everyone got a right oul laugh when we started. As we began to move up to canter, heather had instructed me that not a lot was needed to get Freya to move up a gait simply a squeeze and the use of the correct aids, well between a little excitement from Freya & possibly one kick to many from me, Freya took off farting adding in a slight buck/bunny hop on her way!
As Brave as I had been previous of course this happened as I wasn’t holding on, and realising I didn’t have the worse seat in the world as I managed to stay on… after the tears of laughter where whipped away we progressed to focus on me sitting still in the canter, this time whilst holding the neck strap & the pommel of the saddle at times in fear of take off!
Focusing again on my hand position by repeating the above exercises in canter, we got a few laps in on both reins, before we called it a day so my poor body could have a breather!
Some Lunging Tips to go by
- The rider should not wear spurs
- If you are not confident enough to lunge in an open arena, do it in a lunge pen
- If you feel more comfortable start of by keeping your stirrups, taking them away as you progress & gain in confidence.
- Lunge on both the horses left & right rein, not only for the horse but for the rider also
- Don’t try do any lunge lessons on a horse that you think is unsafe, for instant in my case Dante begins to panic when I do no stirrup work on him so doing this lesson on him would of ended terribly bad!
- Use an experienced rider, or someone who has experience teaching you on the lunge. It will not benefit either horse nor rider if you have someone unexperienced on the ground
No matter what level your riding is at, doing lunge lessons are extremely helpful for your riding. It strengthens your foundations, improves your balance, corrects your position, improve your confidence and so much more.
Lunge lessons should be kept to a maximum of 30/40 minutes, try not to over do it. For the rider themselves, if you overdo it, it will only cause you to get sloppy therefore you are not really focusing on perfecting your position, 10/15 minutes to begin with is perfect, over time you can work up toward 20/30 minute sessions.
Don’t forget you & your horse may get dizzy going around in circles for long periods of time, do prepare yourself for some stiffness the next day it is a normal sign of progression, but if you’re so sore that you can’t walk, you overdid it.
Owning young horses, as challenging as it can be there are times where you throw your position out the window in the hopes of gripping for dear life most of the time or simply to get your horse working and listening to you. Sometimes position in this case literally does not matter at all. So give a lunge lesson a go, maybe its time to focus on you the rider for a while, sometimes its not all about the horse,
Be sure to let me know how you get on if you give it a go, comment & share your lunging exercises below!