Lunging and long-reining

Learn how to improve your horse’s way of going on Horse Hero, through correctly and imaginatively lunging and long reining. Far from being just another form of exercise, we show you how to teach ridden aids, lateral work, steering, stopping, polework, voice commands, balance and transitions, all from the ground, making it easier for both of you when you are in the saddle. Have fun playing around with the huge variety of methods used by top riders and trainers such as dressage team gold medallist Laura Bechtolsheimer and her father Dr B, behaviourists Jason Webb and Richard Maxwell, show jumper Shane Breen and grand prix dressage riders Michael Eilberg, Samantha Thurman-Baker and Vicki Thompson-Winfield. Get help from the best, on Horse Hero!

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Lunging masterclass with Michael Eilberg
Mike gives a masterly demonstration of lunging the four year old Rochelle, daughter of Rockstar, in preparation for riding. The aim is to find out about her mood and determine the best time to get on. Mike explains how to read Rochelle's body language and what signs to look for to know if she is showing her true colours. He offers essential safety advice and tips to ensure the horse has a calm and positive experience of lunging. Mike says, "it’s vital to be in charge of the little things, so the horse feels you own 51% of the shares!" He also stresses the need to give lunging your full attention and explains what it teaches you about your horse.

Lungeing a young horse, with Laura Bechtolsheimer
Laura lunges her new 4 year old, Stepdance (known as Step), in preparation for riding him. She explains why she does this and shows the Bechtolsheimer's preferred equipment for lungeing, which is both simple and unusual! Laura talks about how she uses body language, why moving around the arena with the horse is important and how being on the lunge has helped Step go from 'trotting for a 10' (he was trained to do this for the sales in Germany, where they recently bought him) to being able to just chill!

Vicki Thompson-Winfield trains four year old stallion Exquisite: Part 1
Olympian Vicki Thompson-Winfield starts the 4 year old dressage stallion Exquisite on the lunge before riding and to allow him to burn off any excess energy. Exquisite starts in walk then, in trot, he must show a forwards intention. The whip simulates the leg and the lunge line is the rein aid. Vicky explains how to apply both correctly from the ground. Once rhythm is established and the neck is relaxed, Exquisite works forwards and downwards and covers more ground. "Good habits such as correct transitions, active gaits and square halts are established on the lunge" says Vicki. The aim when riding is to mirror what is achieved on the lunge.

Natalie Allen rides four year old Ruby on and off the lunge Natalie Allen rides four year old Ruby on and off the lunge
Grand Prix dressage rider Natalie Allen rides the 4 year old mare Ruby on the lunge before taking her 'solo' for the second time only. Natalie says she is careful not to pressurise the horse but instead focuses on building trust. She trots, then canters ensuring Ruby goes forwards all the time, gets used to the contact and has a little inside bend. Natalie's seat is soft and she remains supple through her body with relaxed hands that give direction, as she gradually takes over steering from the lunger. Once Ruby is completely settled, Natalie rides off the lunge. She explains the experience and stresses the importance of making the session enjoyable for Ruby.

Young horse masterclass with Wayne Garrick & Baby Bell
Eventer and trainer Wayne Garrick is a month into starting the 4 year old Baby Bell, and aims to ride her off the lunge for the very first time. Wayne begins by lunging Bell to get rid of excess energy and explains the issues her elevated paces might cause, once he is on board. He stresses the importance of correct transitions to minimise problems later on and offers an insight into subtleties with young horses that can help to reduce risk. When Bell is ready, Wayne brings in a helper and explains the mounting-up process. After repeating under saddle what Bell has done on the lunge, Wayne is set free. "Consistency is a vital key," he says.

Lunging & work in hand with a young Lusitano stallion
Classical Portuguese dressage trainer Francisco de Braganca starts the five year old stallion Alecrim (meaning 'beautiful flower') with work in hand. "Groundwork is a Pas de Deux between horse and rider", says Francisco. "Working face to face, you see the whole horse and he understands the man." Francisco explains what lunging gear he is using and why. He moves the horse around using the long sides as well as the circle. He then starts lateral work in hand. "Groundwork is preparation for acceptance of the rider", Francisco says. He moves the horse with the whip in place of the leg and achieves shoulder-in as well as leg yield.

Dr Bechtolsheimer long reins a youngster

"A cool head and patience" is what's required, says Dr B! Demonstrating on the lovely 5 year old Step, he explains how long reining helps youngsters to understand the contact and by using transitions and the half halt, how they are encouraged to carry more weight behind, all without the hindrance of a rider! He shows us how and where to attach the reins and offers some clever tips with equipment. Dr B also explains when to use a roller or a saddle and shows the places from which the right contact for each horse can be established. In time, he says, long reining can be used to prepare pirouettes, piaffe and passage. His calmness is a tonic!


Richard Maxwell works a horse that's lazy to lunge

Lincoln is a Prix St Georges dressage horse who's lazy to lunge. Behaviourist Richard Maxwell explains it's common for horses to get emotionally switched off and then need constant nagging. Also, over-familiarity with his trainer puts Lincoln in a position of disbelieving what he's being asked, so he does his own thing and slows down. Then when asked to move on, he over-reacts and accidentally learns that his size, speed and strength are a useful advantage. Richard demonstrates how to get Lincoln to take more responsibility. The result is a proper 'teacher-pupil' relationship, an open channel of communication and a clear understanding.


Karen Rohlf teaches Reveal bio-mechanics on the lunge

Natural dressage trainer Karen Rohlf demonstrates how to influence Reveal's bio-mechanics on the lunge, using the 'basic alignment exercise'. "A lot of mucking around will help to find the place where he feels freer and more balanced," says Karen. First she observes the 10 year old's natural posture and alignment on a circle, without any interference. Reveal falls in, so Karen pushes the haunches out, then the shoulders, then the whole body before sending him forwards again. Karen also plays with the energy levels. "When Reveal feels more balanced he will also be relaxed" she says. "The best movement should come when I do the least!"


Jason Webb backs the three year old Lucky: Part 2

Having done ground work in the first video and saddled Lucky up, Jason now long reins in preparation for getting on. Aiming to make riding this sharp horse as safe as possible, Jason uses long reins to teach him basic steering and stopping with the bridle. He says, "if Lucky is nervous when ridden, I need to know he can be directed." The sequence of requests is also important, eg. voice then bit, and Lucky must go forwards into a stop as well as back up. Jason then rides another pony and leads Lucky to let him get used to seeing a person above his eye line, also to simulate riding by putting some weight in the saddle. Now Lucky is ready to ride!


Jason Webb starts the 3 year old dressage mare Fly: Part 1
Australian horseman Jason Webb prepares the 3 year old dressage mare Fly for her second ride. Jason takes us through the process Fly has been working on for a week. The first step is 'catching'. "This is where the horse comes to you" says Jason. "It's a way of getting the horse to focus on you and not run away, which is important when riding" he adds. The next step is desensitisng, in hand and when tied up, so the mare can tolerate frights and step forwards rather than running back. Jason also prepares Fly to see him from above her eyeline, as this will be new for her when he climbs on board. (Jason concludes the process in Part 2.)

Greg Drummond uses natural horsemanship to start a racehorse
Natural horseman Greg Drummond works through his programme for starting youngsters, with the 4 year old Mauve at Horses First Racing. He says that "having a vocabulary of techniques enables him to assess each horse as an individual and decide how to break it in". Mauve is on day 10. She is allowed to express herself at liberty before Greg challenges her with a dragging lead rope. A flag on a stick is used to desensitise her visually. Greg has been mounting up bareback from near the start. Keeping Mauve's head bent is a safety position which avoid bucking. Greg gets off quickly to reward Mauve and then long reins her on the gallops.

Lateral work in-hand & under saddle with the Thurman-Bakers
Junior GB team member (and Grand Prix dressage rider) Samantha Thurman-Baker and her mother Diane, provide a fascinating insight into their early training system, based on the Portuguese classical method of starting horses in-hand before transferring the aids to ridden work. Sam begins the session with Jack (a problem horse) on the lunge, before doing lateral work in-hand to soften and relax him, prior to getting on. "Shoulder-in is the Aspirin of the ground work" says Diane, who also explains why they teach backing-up in a large figure of eight. She says "the start of piaffe mobilises the quarters and Spanish walk helps to open the shoulder".

Eventer Joseph Murphy improves his sitting trot on the lunge
4* eventer, and Irish elite squad member, Joseph Murphy has a lesson at Talland with lunging expert Ali Mills to improve his sitting trot. Working without stirrups, Ali puts Joseph in touch core muscles which he can use for support, instead of his legs! Joseph stretches from top to toe which highlights his flexibiltiy, stiffness and stronger side. Ali says, "the softer you sit, the more the horse can move under you. When you tighten, the horse slows and you have to use more leg." Closing his eyes improves Joseph's body awareness and he finds that the only way to ride in harmony is to relax, use his core strength for balance and let his hips do the work.

Lunging therapy for Norris
Intermediate eventer Norris has spent the last two years in rehab' as a result of feet issues. During this time, Horse Hero's Fiona Price has done a lot of creative lunging to keep him in work and aid his recovery but, she says, "I have been careful to take only what he could offer whilst remaining in balance". This has meant working a lot in a jog-trot and thinking laterally when lunging his stiff side! Fiona is a fan of body language, to enhance communication, and favours lunging on a square to help with balance. Her aid for a walk-canter transition is a little unusual (and might prompt a chuckle) but it's effective. What a sweeetie Norris is!

Buddy Holly lunges over poles to improve his balance
Horse Hero's Fiona Price lunges the three year old Buddy over poles to improve his spacial awareness and balance especially on his stiffer right rein. On a particularly foggy day, he's come out fresh so Fiona puts side reins on to contain his energy. Starting on his better rein, she uses two trot poles, followed by three, then a fan of poles on a corner. The fan improves his right rein because as he steps, he bends. The poles focus Buddy and also calm the trot. Fiona says, "I love coming up with creative solutions to problems and this exercise has improved his right bend enormously. Buddy has a great brain and loves his work!"

Young stallion Fleetwood Mac is ridden for the third time
The three year old stallion Fleetwood Mac (owned by Lynne Crowden and the Eilbergs) is ridden for the third time at Woodlander Stud. Lynne's Bereiter Carsten Sandrock explains why he begins on the lunge. Lynne talks about the importance of using two people for the exercise and how division of labour keeps it simple for the horse. Carsten remains cool when dealing with some unexpected exuberance. When he gets on Mac he begins on the lunge in walk, and once loose he uses two helpers to keep the horse moving forwards. Mac demonstrates willingness in all paces. This is an essential video on backing and starting youngsters.

Mike & Ferdi Eilberg teach Rosie piaffe in-hand
The 9 year old Woodlander Dornroeschen (Rosie) began dressage after having her famous 5 year old world champion daughter Farouche. Rosie is excitable by nature, so teaching her piaffe under saddle has been challenging for Mike. Working Rosie in hand with father and trainer Ferdi, she is now learning the greater collection required in a controlled place. Mike says, "it's about having enough enthusiasm for the work without putting Rosie under too much pressure". Ferdi adds, "Rosie understands it in her mind now but her body has to be strong enough to cope with it." Clarity and strength must ultimately lead to self-motivation in the steps.

Starting a 3 year old with long reins
Irish show jumper Shane Breen is a master at long reining. Shane says this traditional form of ground work is a vital part of his young horses' education. It helps to familiarise with surroundings and also start their school-work, teaching them balance and even flying changes. This pony hasn't yet been backed but has been driven around Hickstead and is being schooled for the first time in this video. Shane explains his tack, show how to use the reins, where to stand, how to change direction and deal with any napping. Though green, the pony is accommodating and not only canters on long reins for the first time but even manages a flying change!

Diane Thurman-Baker lunges 4 year old Zazu Diane Thurman-Baker lunges 4 year old Zazu
Zazu has just started his dressage training with Diane Thurman-Baker. On the lunge, the aim is to go forwards and find a rhythm in trot and canter. Zazu is sharp and easily distracted, which Diane expects of a 4 year old. She holds her ground in the centre of the circle, so he finds it easier when he makes the circle even. Zazu looks for a way out of working initially, falling out through the shoulder, shooting off and slowing down. Diane insists he doesn't stop at his favourite place and works him through trot-canter transitions. She adds side reins and gradually Zazu relaxes and works in a steady rhythm. (In another video, Diane teaches Zazu lateral work in-hand.)

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