No matter how long we’ve been riding, no matter how accomplished we are, no matter how many blue ribbons we’ve won, there’s always something to be learned from a few turns on the lunge.
It’s how many of us got started riding: us struggling to find our balance while an instructor stood in the middle of the circle, cracking a whip and barking commands. Up, down, up, down! A few lessons later we’re ready to fly solo and never look back — but perhaps we should.
Being lunged builds strength and reveals weaknesses in our riding, whether it’s sitting crooked or relying on the reins too much for downward transitions. The variations are endless: riding without stirrups, riding without reins, riding with our eyes closed, asking for transitions within and between gaits with our seat and legs as the only aids… the list goes on.
In this video from one of our favorite educational sites, EquestrianCoach.com, United States Equestrian Team veteran Bernie Traurig makes a strong argument for incorporating regular lunge sessions into our training routine. He recounts his experience of riding with the legendary U.S. show jumping team coach Bert de Nemethy, who subjected even the Olympic veterans under his tutelage to lessons on the lunge.
Bernie quotes him in the video:
Are you ready to go lunging? I know, I know — just the thought of it makes your thighs burn. Get inspired by watching this video, which begins with an introduction by Bernie and then shows a session with Val Renihan working with a student on the lunge. The pair demonstrates several different exercises designed to “increase the rider’s stability in the tack, encourage the independence of the arms and seat, and build suppleness and core strength.” Ready, set… lunge!
Many thanks to Bernie Traurig of EquestrianCoach.com for this and many other educational videos on his site, in addition to some amazing archival horse show footage. Bernie, who achieved success in multiple disciplines, has done equestrian sports history a great service by collecting and granting the public access to a number of vintage videos chronicling the evolution of 20th century show jumping. Learn more about Bernie, his career and his work by checking out our Q&A with him here.