Lunging 101 with Kate Leggat

Lunging 101 with Kate Leggat

There are so many different ways that we can work our horses. So, this week, we decided to investigate a bit deeper into the world of lunging and how that can be a working part of your horse’s program! We sat down with Kate Leggat, Professional Dressage Rider, who has fallen in love with the sport of showjumping and now uses her talents to help some of the biggest names in the sport, such as, Double H Farm, Karen Polle, Darragh Kenny, Attache Stables, and many more. She gave us the inside scoop on what her favorite lunging exercises are and how she uses them to help her horses reach their full potential!

(c) Kate Leggat


My Philosophy:

For me, lunging horses has always been a part of a good training program, especially if I am working with a horse that has a great deal of crookedness. When done correctly lunging can help improve a horse’s balance and rhythm. I think ground work, in general, is really important, it gives your horse great fundamentals. Having a horse work and use himself without a rider on its back is really valuable, we as riders can be an obstruction to the horse’s movement when we don’t have completely independent aids. For show jumpers, I like to do dressage work, cardio work such as intervals, gymnastics, lunging, hills. etc. to target different muscles groups. This obviously depends on competition schedules or where a horse is in its training, but in an ideal world I would like my horses to be ridden for two days, then a lunge or hack out and then ridden for 2 days and lunge the last working day of the week.

How to Lunge effectively:
 1) Warm Up
As a rule, I like to start off by watching my horse lunge with no equipment to let him move in each direction freely. Then, once I add my equipment, I change the direction of my circle every 5 minutes, when I change direction, I will also make adjustments to my equipment as needed.
2) Start with the strengths
I always start on my horse’s stronger side to allow them to warm up, starting in the walk I ask for walk trot transitions with my equipment loose enough to make sure my horse is relaxed and willing before I make changes.
3) Make sure You are in control
It is important to always have your horse going at the pace you are asking them to go and not the other way around. To make sure your horse is listening to you, ask for lots of transitions. It is important to make sure you are always using clear and consistent commands with your horse and that your circle remains the same size.
4) Protect your Pony

When lunging your horse, you should always use bell boots and protective leg gear to prevent injuries or losing shoes caused by overreaching.


My Top Three Lunging Exercises
  • Chambon- The Chambon acts on the horses poll via the bit on the corners of the horses mouth. When the horse raises its head poll pressure is applied, when the horse lowers his head the pressure is released. This method also encourages work in a longer lower frame focusing on suppling the horse and working its back muscles. 

(c) Kate Leggat
  • Pessoa Lunging System- Great for building and maintaining muscle in the back and hind end. It gives you the ability to change your horses frame from pole low to pole high as you work. [In addition], the Pessoa has a breeching strap that goes around the horse's hindquarters which aids in activating the hind end.
(c) Kate Leggat
  • Cotton Lunging Aid- Soft cotton rein that wraps freely over the withers and back through the front legs attaching up to the bit. This tool encourages a forward and downward stretching posture that helps supple the back and strengthen the core.
(c) Kate Leggat
          PonyApp Pro-Tip: Keep track of all your horses activities, including Lunging, on PonyApp




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