Lunge lining is a proven method of horse training. The technique involves driving your horse in a circle around you on a 20-meter rope called a lunge line, while using your voice and body language to control movement and direction.
When done correctly lunge training benefits both you and your horse.
Lunge lining builds respect and trust between a horse and rider and can also be an excellent training exercise for your horse.
It’s a common solution to equine behavioural problems, and should be employed if your horse is bucking or running off with you.
The training method can also be used to warm up the muscles of a stiff horse before a ride, or conversely to cool down a high spirited or excitable younger horse.
Preparing to Lunge Line Your Horse
- Find a spacious, clean, quiet place to lunge your horse, preferably in a fenced enclosure which will allow you to work in a circle of at least 30 meters.
- Remove any debris your horse could trip on, and make sure that there are no pits or holes you or your horse could step into.
- If either you or the horse are new to lunging, choose a place where neither of you will be distracted by other horses, riders, or traffic.
- To begin lunge lining you will need
- a 20-meter lunge line,
- a halter for your horse
- a lunge whip, brushing boots, riding or paddock boots and gloves
- Bring your horse into the enclosure where you plan to lunge and snap the lunge line onto the bottom ring of your horse’s halter, bridle or cavesson.
- Gather the length of the lunge line into big loops in your left hand, (right if you are left handed).
- Never, ever allow the lunge line to become wrapped around any part of your body.
- Your gloves should be tough enough to protect your hands from rope burn in case your horse pulls on the lunge line.
- In most cases, it is easier to begin lunging your horse in a counter-clockwise circle because horses are accustomed to humans standing on their left sides.
- Hold the lunge line in your left hand in big loops so that your horse does not trip over it and hold the whip pointed towards the ground in your right.
- Stand at your horse’s shoulder and send him out by gently clucking and asking him to ‘walk on’
- As your horse moves forward, gradually release the lunge line without allowing it to become too slack.
- Move slightly towards the rear of your horse and encourage him to keep moving forward without you by showing him the whip if you need to.
- As your horse moves out, release the lunge line until it is no longer looped in your hand and it is fully extended
- Your horse should now be walking in a 20-meter circle around you. If your horse stops or tries to turn around, show him the whip and cluck at him and ask him to walk-on, to keep him moving forward.
Training Your Horse on the Lunge LineOnce you have your horse walking around you in a 20-meter circle, your lunge line will essentially take the place of the reins, becoming the directional aid and your lunge whip will replace your legs as the motivational aid to move your horse forward, just as if you were riding.
Position your horse between your whip and your lunge line by forming a V-shape with you at the point, with the lunge line connecting at the horse’s mouth and the whip pointed behind the horse’s quarters.
You should be facing the horse’s flank, staying slightly behind the horse.
Remain in the centre of the circle as your horse moves around you. Begin by asking for a brisk walk, to warm up before any serious workout. Once warmed up move your horse to trot for 5 to 10 minutes of trotting to avoid injury.
To transition the horse from a walk to a trot, ask the horse to ‘trot’ and show him the whip.
Do not continuously crack the whip, as this will cause your horse to become unresponsive to it and never hit your horse with the whip.
Once you have your horse trotting, it is a good idea to practice halts and transitions between the walk and trot.
To slow your horse to a walk; in a calm, low voice say ‘whoa’ and ask for ‘walk’.
To halt your horse; give a gentle tug to the lunge line and say, ‘halt’.
Once you are able to lunge your horse in walk and trot, you can move on to canter by raising your whip slightly and calmly saying ‘canter’.
Ending Your Lunge Training SessionWhen you are finished lunge lining, ask your horse to halt and then walk towards him while gathering up the lunge line in big loops.
Try not to pull your horse towards you or ask that your horse change direction while gathering the line.
When you reach your horse’s head
In order to avoid stress and injury, always lunge your horse for an equal amount of time on both legs (directions) and never lunge for more than forty minutes in total.
Once you’ve got the hang of lunging your horse, you should be able to command him to walk, trot, canter and halt on either leg (direction), and transition from any gait.
Remember to End Well!
Avoid lunging your horse for more than thirty to forty minutes at a time to prevent stress or injury and always finish on a positive note … While your horse is responding positively to all of your commands.