Lunging/in hand “routine” for working student

Hi ! I’m very fortunate to have a teenaged lesson student who wants to spend every minute at the farm. This is my private farm and I have a lesson program geared towards beginner riders and students with emotional disabilities. She’s way past most of my normal students and while I’ve now gotten her a few gigs at more advanced programs she still considers this her home.

Most of the lesson horses get used enough that they don’t need her riding them extra, but I have a few of my show horses I let her work if I’m there watching. If I’m not watching (I’m a full time public school teacher) she’s allowed to groom and lunge if she checks in with me via text.

She is very methodical and likes structure so I wanted to give her a really detailed plan for lunging and in hand work. How many times in each direction, what gait, how many transitions, how long over caviletties etc. I wanted some suggestions to make sure my idea were in line with people more experienced with legging up horses.

Her 4 “clients” are as follows

20 year old 17.2 Selle Francias ex advanced level eventer- he just needs to move and keep a top line he is not in hard work

15 year old 2nd level dressage horse OTTB - he’s fit and showing rated again as soon as the shows start up here.

7 year old OTTB - came off the track a year ago, has been in light work but mostly hacking and experiences.

6 year old 17.3 Oldenburg - has some soundness issues and needs to stay in work so his muscles can support his joints (fused hind pasturn and shoulder ocd)

I know these horses so well so I feel like I can sort of wing it based on the day or what I’m seeing, she can identify if they aren’t sound and knows to not continue but she’s more comfortable with a concrete plan. As a teacher I started making a literal lesson plan and then stopped myself and decided to post here before I maximize the entire thing and scare her :rofl:

No specific timing ideas, but one thing I learned was to never just go one way, then the other, then be done. Direction was always to be changed multiple times (within gaits, too, if it was a longer session). This, combined with a total length of time for a session, might be enough structure.

I also think it depends if you are going to allow her to determine intensity and duration of session, versus determining that yourself and leaving those instructions.

I use a cloverleaf pattern for lungeing quite often. This combines straight lines and circles. I will start it in the walk and add trot, then transitions between walk and trot. Sometimes trot the straight lines and walk the circles, sometimes vice versa, sometimes wherever. I’ll do both reins before adding canter and transitions within trot on a larger circle. The cloverleaf is more interesting for both horse and human.

As above change direction as reward. Start in walk, trot and canter with no side reins. Add loose side reins, no walk, trot and canter only.
That is all ll that is needed for those just on exercise, remove side reins and walk.

For those in work do side reins up another 2 holes and work in trot and canter. No more than 10 minutes all up in side reins. Remove side reins and walk.

If I’m doing a ground day, I usually start with hand walking around the arena practicing walk, stop, back, walk. Then I do a few turn on the forehands each direction to loosen up the back and get the hind legs crossing. Once I’m ready to start lunging, I make note of the time, and never go more than 15 minutes. I try to change direction and gait frequently. Sometimes I migrate my circle around the arena, including over a set of poles 3 or 4 times each direction.

When I bought her as a 4 yo fresh off the track, my mare needed to be given a solid foundation on the longe line. I spent a lot of time teaching her. Now that she is 23, well balanced and still in great shape overall, I still use it quite a bit. I rarely longe her more than 20 minutes at a time.
Things we do :

  • lots of transitions, between and within gaits.
  • halt on the circle (she is not allowed to face me, or come to me uninvited, or cut into her circle)
  • change direction by asking her to turn on her forehand (crossing hind leg over)
  • straight line to circle to straight line all over the arena.
  • trotting over poles or cavaletti
  • spiraling in and out on the circle at trot and canter
  • low jumps on a circle, trotting in, cantering out. I have access to “boxes” and “stone walls” (anything that doesn’t have standards, basically) in the indoor, and we also longe over xc jumps outside.

In hand: trot / halt / trot next to me on a loose lead, back up / come forward, move over (turn on the forehand), trotting poles.

RedHorses - do you mind elaborating on how to do a cloverleaf pattern on the lunge? I am interested but can’t picture the logistics of it.

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The cloverleaf pattern is basically a square with a circle in each corner, but instead of going along the wall to get to the next circle the horse is going through the middle of the square. I adapted it from a book of arena exercises where you ride large and every time you reach the middle of a side you turn and ride to the middle of the opposite side, turning the same way you did when you left the track (so all lefts or all rights). When longeing the human is walking a square, stopping in each corner as the horse does the circle.

Start at the walk. You stand on the quarter line and longe your horse in a 10m circle to the left in the corner between. K. and. A. As the horse comes off the wall and onto the centre line you push the horse out so they leave the circle and stay on the centre line walking towards X and you walk parallel along the quarter line for 10m. You stop and the horse follows the contact on the line to walk a circle around you (technically it’s 3/4 of a circle). As the horse comes off the wall and reaches the quarter line you push them out and you both walk parallel to the short side across to the other quarter line, where you stop and the horse goes on the circle. As the horse comes to the centre line (now heading towards A) you walk 10m along the quarter line as you push the horse out to walk the centre line. You stop, the horse circles and you both walk across to the other quarter line back to the 10m circle in the corner between A and K.

Once you see how the pattern works you can change the circle size easily, and you can go further along the long axis of the arena between circles if you want (a good way of easing closer to the scary spot).

I find this pattern very quickly shows me if my younger horse’s brain is plugged in that day and is great for getting him focused when it’s not by adding transitions.


It might also be interesting for her to investigate using hand signals for lateral work - my horse will back up and do a turn off the forehand off hand gestures (my friend’s horse will actually leg yield down the wall in both directions with her maintaining her position).

Properly longing is an art. Make sure she can handle longe line and whip without thinking. I would start horseless and have her practice using a whip, how to scoop with it, how to point to a shoulder, how to touch a part with it if necessary.

Podhasky’s fist book " Complete Training of Horse and Rider" is a great starting point.