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My Horse Training Stories : Teaching A Horse Lunge
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Teaching a horse lunge can be both very simple and extremely hard if u get it wrong and confuse the horse. Expecting your horse to canter on a lunge straight off is also a bit too much expectation … and liable for the horse to run out taking u with it while at the same time training the horse that they are stronger than you … prob about the worst thing you could ever teach your horse.

As easy as it is too teach a horse something it is also just as easy to teach them to do the wrong thing or ignore you… and that’s the hard part once u hit that wall then u got to un-teach what u have already taught … much greater risk of confusion on the horses part and stress on yours…. Leading to all sorts of bad happenings

Ok so how would I teach a horse how to lunge … im not expert … but like to keep things simple…most important thing when doing anything new with horses is don’t lose your cool … esp cause they will sense your stress and always end on a good note .. when the horse has done the correct thing … realise/relief never forget it .. is how horses learn they have done the right thing

One more thing is don’t use neg things like yelling …heck nobody or thing like to be yelled at esp if they are trying there best and don’t understand … which is how I think most horse problems occur … like human relationships … no communication ends in an argument… you need the right communication

But back to Teaching a Horse to basically go around in circles on a long lead while you stand in the middle.

First you must ask yourself how well does my horse lead ?? do they follow you around with slack in the lead or do they try and drag you everywhere ?? first instance u will teach your horse to lunge quickly ....the dragging horse may be harder but at the same time this might make him better to lead and teach him who has control… that’s what I have found anyway .

Ok so what do u need … halter … preferable rope and a lunge line I prefer the ones that arnt nylon and wont burn you if the horse does pull away... though in saying this sometimes its easier just to start with a more standard lead rope ... but not too short as u dont want to be holding the end and have the horse pull away.

Ok so what do I do … if I am circling my horse to the right I take the lunge/lead in myright hand and pass the coil into my other hand .. where I would also hold a whip .. a dressage whip is sufficient as you will not be allowing the horse onto a bigger circle until you have full control of him just moving at a walk in small circles ...the bigger the circle the horse makes the harder they are to contol... this is actually the hardest part of the whole excerise ... having the horse move off while you are facing his sholder ... take your time and keep everything relaxed ...

Clip the lead onto the halter and stand to his side facing his shoulder … the length of the line to his face should only be enough so you are facing his sholuder but no tension in the line must be slack but not anywhere near the ground … u must be able to take up the slack at a moments notice so as to be able to signal the horse.

Ask the horse to walk off … voice first , maybe a click of the tongue , working up to a flick of the whip as a last resort … for the first few trys at getting your horse moving walk with him … get practiced at this on both sides ... as it is the key to lunging ... what happens if you are facing the horses rump or move forward and are facing him ?... these are the ways to control the speed of your horse on a lunge ... try it ... always talk to your horse but never in a neg way ... when he does what you are asking prasie him and give relief .. ie stop for a couple of mins give him a pat and try again ... he will know hes done the right thing then.

Now start asking the horse to circle you …this would start as you are both circling … to do this ask for a pressure realise on the lunge as if riding and asking the horse to turn … when he turns - release … a circle will be a series of pressure release ... more a square until he gets the hang of it… the horse will get the message pretty quickly .. you can then start to practice with making the line longer with the horse making bigger circle and you smaller … but you must not let them stopped til asked nor face you … if u are finding they are facing you u are making the circle to big too fast… letting out to much line .. keep the circle smaller where you can have more control of forward and stop them turning to face you.

You then do the same exercise asking for trot once they are on a reasonable sized circle …. They will get the idea pretty fast …. But don’t rush them as like I said at the beginning you do not want to ever teach them they are stronger than you!! the ultimate goal of this is that the horse is doing the biggest circle and you are stationary in the centre .. please note … most people still do there own small circle but the end goal is not too… and be very aware of where the lunge line is at all times you never want to allow yourself to get tangled ... also very importantly the lunge line even when the horse is on the biggest circle must never be tight ... you should not be hanging off the line .. ever ... you are teaching the horse resistance… hope some of this was useful and I didn’t talk in circles !

Hope u enjoyed my article … I am no expert and am just sharing my own experiences as I try to follow my dream of becoming a horse trainer … Thanks Nic

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