Teaching a horse to lunge

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Lunging a horse is an important part of training a horse and allows you to introduce new ideas to a horse before climbing into the saddle. But what if your horse has never learned how to lunge? Teaching a horse to lunge is a fairly easy process that you can undertake on your own.

Tools for Lunging a Horse

Before you begin training your horse to lunge, outfit yourself with the proper equipment. Your horse should be wearing a halter, though it is best if he wears a lunging cavesson. Use a lunge line that is long enough so that you can leave adequate distance between yourself and your horse, but don’t use a lunge line that is so long that you will be continuously tangling yourself up in it.

Wear a good pair of gloves to keep your hands safe and prevent rope burn. Be sure to wear boots intended for use around horses. You might also consider wearing a riding helmet – although you will not be mounted, your horse could strike out suddenly. Your helmet just might protect your head from a kick.

Additionally, bring a long lunging whip with you. A long whip will help you to keep the horse moving forward and away from you, rather than falling in on the circle.

Training a Horse to Lunge Safely

Whenever you lunge, pay particular attention to the lunge line and where it falls in your hands. The extra line should be held in one hand, but you need to be sure that it is folded within your hand, rather than looped over your arm or fingers.

Only train your horse to lunge in a safe, enclosed area. A round pen is ideal for this, but a riding arena can also suffice. Conduct training sessions during times that are free of distractions; you and your horse should be the only ones present in the area at the time.

It is important to understand the basics of lunging before you attempt to teach a horse to lunge. If you have never lunged a horse before, ask an experienced horse person to teach you how to lunge a trained horse. Be sure that you always hold the lunge line in the hand which is closest to the direction you want to travel – for instance, if your horse is circling to the left, hold the line in your left hand. Always hold your whip in your other hand, and be careful not to tangle up or step on the extra line.

Training a Horse to Move from Pressure

The first lesson that a horse will need to learn in lunging is that he is expected to move away from the whip. Standing a safe distance from your horse, lift up the lunge whip and move it slowly towards his hind legs. The whip should approach the horse from behind, acting to drive him forward. Many horses will readily respond to a light signal from the whip.

If your horse doesn’t respond, lift the whip a little higher and move it towards the horse again. As soon as he takes a step away, remove the pressure of the whip. Repeat this process until your horse readily moves away from the whip whenever you move it towards his hind end.

Training a Horse to Lunge on a Circle

Once your horse moves away from the whip you can gradually use the lunge line to encourage your horse to move around you on a circle. Your horse should understand the basics of giving to pressure on his halter; when lunging him, pull his head in towards you gently until he bends and travels on a circle. Immediately remove the pressure from his head when he responds to your signals.

Be sure to pay attention to your own body position to encourage the horse to travel around you. Keep your body towards the horse’s hind end, but angled towards the direction he is traveling. With patience and repetition you will likely find that your horse quickly picks up on the lunging lessons and is soon lunging well. TOPHORSE–browse horses for sale or place an ad to sell horses.

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