How to Lunge Train Your Horse

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Are you new training your first horse?  You have been asked to lunge train your horse but not sure what to do? 

 This article will answer these questions and soon you will be a pro at lunge training your horse.

What Does it Mean to Lunge a Horse

When you lunge a horse, you are moving around in a circle with the horse at the end of the lunge line. It is a useful exercise for you and the horse.  The horse can burn off extra energy safely without you riding it.  It can also help teach horse obedience.

When it is done right, it can help your horse to be more balanced and flexible.  It can also increase fitness, allow you to observe its gait to see if the horse is lame and help a rider learn skills without having to worry about controlling a horse.

Equipment Needed

1. Lunge Line

The lunge line should be between 25-30 feet and made of lightweight material.  It should come with a swivel snap.  They are generally made from nylon, cotton webbing, or a blend of both.  Some come with stops along the strap to help you get a better grip.

2. Lunge Cavesson

You can also use a harness but they can slip out of place and diminish the control you have over your horse.  A lunge cavesson has a heavily padded noseband with a metal ring that is attached to the top.  The ring is what you use to attach your lunge line too.

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3. Lunge Whip

This is not used to whip the horse but it is used to mimic the rider’s leg against the body of the horse.  The lunge whip is used gently to urge the horse out of the circle and forward.  It should be at least six feet long.  The lashes should be six to eight feet in length.  It will also keep a safe distance between the horse and you while maintaining the circumference of the circle.

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4. Other Equipment

  • Gloves made of suede or leather to protect your hands from getting rope burns if the horse suddenly bolts or gets spooked or runs off.  They can be work or riding gloves.
  • Sturdy shoes or boots so you do not slide or trip.

How to Lunge Train Your Horse

Before you can lunge train your horse, you need to make sure that you have everything that you need.  You should do your training in a ring, round pen, or arena, with as few distractions as possible.  This is very important if you are just starting with the training.

When you are ready to start, you need to put the lunge cavesson or bridle on so you have something to attach your lunge line to.  Once this is done, lead your horse to the training area and walk to the circle you want your horse to work on.

Ask your horse to walk.  The horse must understand your voice commands by using the same inflection and tone each time for each clue.  When the horse moves off on the circle, you will need to hold the lunge up so it is not dragging on the ground.  Keep your whip pointed at your horse’s hocks.  

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If you move at all, keep the circle small and make sure you do not spin in one spot to keep from getting dizzy.

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Reprimand Spots

To train your horse properly, you need to know the reprimand spots, which are the left and right shoulders.  It also includes the left and right sides of the rump or hip.  The shoulder is important because, in a herd, the leader would usually nip the shoulder of a horse to get it to move in a certain direction.  You are the herd leader when training the horse.

Where to Start

You need to be in a relaxed stance several feet in front, not at the side because at the side you are vulnerable to be kicked.  Keep your eyes directly on your horse.


If the horse will be working to the left, hold the lunge whip in your right hand and the lunge line in your left hand.  If you are working to the right, the lung line and whip will be in the opposite hand.  Hold the whip and line so they are the sides of a triangle with you as the apex and the horse as the base.  You should be standing relaxed with your arms bent at the elbow.

Cock your head to the left and make a smooching sound, mimicking the leader of the herd.  Slightly pull on the lunge line and use the lunge whip to gently tap it on the right shoulder (the one facing you).  Keep tapping and pulling the line towards you until the horse lunges left.  Then you can relax the line and stop tapping.  Go to the horse and rub the shoulder you tapped.

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Lunge Commands

Downward And Upward Transitions

Upward transitions mean to walk to canter or trot or trot to canter. The downward transitions includes walk to halt, trot to halt, trot to walk, or canter to walk.  This can be reinforced by waving the whip or popping it but never hitting the horse.

Halt And Change Directions 

When you want your horse to change directions, you ask it to halt, step backward, and turn.  Change line and whip hands and then send the horse off in the opposite direction.

Halt The Horse

When you halt the horse, they should say out on the circle and wait for you to come to them.


  • Training your horse to lunge correctly will take time and patience.
  • Lunging is not a form of punishment but is a way to develop a bond with them and get them to trust people.
  • Lunging should be a mental and physical exercise for both horse and trainer.
  • During training, you should reward your horse with vocal praise, a pat on the neck, or even a treat like an apple.