Carolyn Resnick Horsemanship: Liberty Horse Training

The Foundation for All Equestrian Pursuits Through the Horse-Human Connection.

How to Teach a Horse to Lunge

Photo by Teddie ZieglerThe first thing I want to suggest is never, as a common practice, allow a horse to move out of control on a lunge line as a way to get rid of pent up energy. It is too much stress on a horse’s legs and it teaches a horse to use his energy against you. 

What makes a perfect lunging experience is when you ask a horse to step out onto the circle to lunge he would then take the slack out of the line and move onto the circle and not pull. The horse circles the handler in the gaits and speed you ask for and that you can move from one end of the arena to the other end and the horse will stay out on a circle without pulling the line. You should not need gloves for lunging or even for training a horse to lunge.

Photo by Teddie ZieglerWe seldom see this seamless connection on a lunge line between horse and handler and when we do it is admirable. It can be both difficult as well as easy to accomplish this seamless connection, depending on the approach you take. 

These are a few reasons why it can be difficult lunging your horse. First, the horse is taught to stay with you and never go out on his own when being lead so a horse can get confused when you try to encourage him to move out on a circle away from you. When you send a horse out on a lunge line it is often met by the horse turning around and facing you. Another reason it can be difficult is that when the horse gets out on the line he thinks he is doing something wrong or he does not feel you are in charge of him anymore.  Both attitudes of the horse can get the same reaction- the horse pulling the line from you and then running away which can create a pull back horse.

Photo by Teddie ZieglerIf your horse leads well, can trot at your side and has a good halt you can teach him how to lunge easily with what I have to share with you. 

First, teach your horse how to move at Liberty in a round pen.  This way your horse will feel more secure. Then turn your horse loose and when he is relaxed and comfortable being in a round pen ask him to walk.  When he is walking comfortably around the round pen ask him, with your driving body language, to stay out on the circle.  Use a lunge whip that he is not afraid of and would have enough meaning to him to be able to influence his forward movement without frightening him. Stay in walk for a week so that the walk and the pattern become natural to the horse and do both directions.

Photo by Teddie ZieglerThen do the same at a trot for a week and then a canter. After that put a lunge line on him and work on getting him to halt on his path, using the same pattern, without him turning around and facing you. If he turns and faces you, go up and put him straight onto the path. Next time when he falls in use your body language to send the horse back out on the circle stepping towards his nose. Wait with him for a while and then repeat.

After your horse is comfortable with being lunged in a round pen you then can take him to the next stage where you lunge him in a full size arena. If you do not have a round pen the next exercise may well work for you without having to use a round pen.

Photo by Teddie Ziegler

The secret of getting a horse to lunge is that your horse would respond to your body language by moving away from you, when you approach him with a driving aid, using a lunge whip and your body language.

Here are two videos that might help you on this leg of the journey. The horse I used, Apollo, has not had any training in a round pen and he still learned how to lunge easily.  This video of Apollo is part of the Bit-Less Dressage program I offer. 

How to teach your horse to lunge – Part I

How to teach your horse to lunge – Part II

If you send me a video of you teaching your horse how to lunge, from the video I am sharing with you, you could win a free spot in the next online Waterhole Rituals Extended Circle course or a $274.00 discount on a 3 day private clinic with me in California that you could extend to a three month working student study program if you qualify. Send your videos to teddie@carolynresnick.com.

Have a great weekend!  Be on the lookout for more horse and human sightings and may the horse be with you.

Warmly, Carolyn

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Interesting stories I would like to share with you:

1.     Camels at Liberty can bring you Home to Peace and Joy

Stuart and his CamelsA friend of mine, Stuart Camps, is running a Camel sanctuary located in Northern California. The purpose of his sanctuary is to bring people a deeper appreciation that animals are sentient beings. The sanctuary is also a meditation center.  

I know Stuart well enough to say that his intention is to inspire people to become caretakers of the planet from the experience he offers to the public connecting with his camels in nature.  Stuart and his camels are helping people all over the world to become conscious of how to care for animals and their environment and how to heal our negative impact on this earth and to our own selves by improving our humanitarian values.

Camels and LizardStuart has been training his camels, using my method, to create a bond and a friendship with them and the ability to handle them for their daily needs. The bond, his approach and his relationship with his camels needs to be witnessed if one is focused on growing their understanding of the true nature of animals.

This video has some jewels of training tips and shows how my method works as well with camels as it does with horses.

Stuart is currently looking for a person that will help him in the daily training and care of his herd. He is looking for a person with experience in my method and has experience in the care and feeding animals.

Photo by Stuart Camps

Getting to work with Stuart is a great opportunity.  If you can help him out I will give you a free spot in my online Waterhole Rituals Extended Circle course or a $274.00 discount on a 3 day private clinic with me in California.  If you keep a journal of this amazing time with the camels and with Stuart there is a possibility that I could post part of your daily journal in my blogs. It could be interesting as well as educational to my readers.

Thank you for your support of these wonderful animals.

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2.     The Red Blanket and the Animal Communicator

I love animal communicator stories and this is a good one.

Lauri,a friend of mine had an opportunity to talk to an animal communicator, Linda Wahlund, at a dog show.   She was offering inexpensive readings, so my friend booked a reading for her dog Docker just to see what she had to say.  Linda told my friend that Docker was very excited that he had this chance to speak to her and to please tell Lauri, that he wanted her to get him a red blanket.  My friend was shocked at this request because her dog had won a red blanket at a previous agility trial, and thinking that Docker didn’t need it, she took the blanket to use on her couch so that when her husband was taking a nap his dog could lie on the red blanket in order to keep the couch clean. 

Docker's Blanket

Upon hearing this, Lauri ordered a red blanket right away for her dog, Docker, a Portuguese water dog.  When the blanket came in she took Docker with her to pick up the blanket.  She got to the store to pick up her red blanket and when the store owner (a complete stranger) brought it out, Docker ripped the line from Lauri’s hand, out of character because he is obedience trained, grabbed the blanket and ran around the store, leaping and jumping and running all around everything and creating pure havoc.  He was so excited to have “his” red blanket.  It was, in Docker’s mind, exactly what he wanted and somehow he knew it was coming, from the conversation he had with the animal communicator at the dog show. 

I love this story and I hope you enjoyed it as well.  The reason I love it so much is that it shows proof that the communication actually took place by Docker’s response to the red blanket.

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26 Responses to “Free Lesson on How to Teach a Horse to Lunge”

  1. 16

    Dear Carolyn,

    I have just begun to work Amigo on a circle, so your suggestions are perfectly timed. How smooth it all is the way you do it.

    Karin

  2. 15
    Joy Greenhalgh-UK-IC-Broc, Cirrus and Kate says:

    Dear Carolyn,

    Thankyou so much for the free lesson!

    OH! OH! OH!………..I am transported to camel heaven !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Their faces emanate a state of bliss and I am enraptured. How fabulous it must be for you to see your method inspiring the wonderful relationships Stuart has formed. You are right : the video is indeed full of sparkling shining jewels. It has been working absolute wonders inspiring me all week . I have been very much influenced by your recent blog on approach : if I feel my approach slipping I picture those camels faces and they put me right back on track .

    And of course it makes me think of the wonderful chapter in your book where the camel came to find you.

    So looking forward to the next Insider Circle.

    Every best wish, Joy

  3. 14

    HI Carolyn

    Fascinating blog, I love camels. Thanks for the wonderful lessons.
    I have posted your request to your email address.

    love
    Crissea

  4. 13

    Very great post Carolyn

    I’m sorry I couldn’t get to it sooner. Haven’t watched the videos yet, but will as soon as can.

    Loved the blanket story too.

  5. 12
    Domenico says:

    Dear Carolyn,
    your teachings are always very precious!
    I always follow your blog and your method is the most natural and exciting there is.
    Thanks for the videos and lessons that he gives us!

    Domenico (Italy)

  6. 11

    Hi Carolyn,
    With interest I watched your lunging video. But to my surprise you say in the first video that you are going to mark the right behaviour, moving away and towards you, with a treat. I’m sorry….but you did not mark this behaviour. You are marking the behaviour walking to the treat can. As that is what he got rewarded for.
    When you want to mark the right behaviour, you have to use a marker (a clicker, or a word only used for this, or a tongue click) to MARK the behaviour that you want and the precise moment the horse does this wanted behaviour. So in this case, as soon your horse moves away from you (or towards you), you use a marker sound. AFTER the marker sound you give a treat as that will be the reward. That is the correct way of training with a marker. Not asking for a behaviour, then walk towards the treat bucket and give the horse a treat. The horse really has NO idea what you reward him for. He thinks for walking towards the treat bowl or being at the treat bowl gives him the reward.
    I hope you don’t mind me explaining working with a marker.
    I love the calm way you work with your horses.

    Friendly regards,
    Saskia Dockrill.

  7. 10
    Erica Dixon UK Izzy: EC spring '11, BTWHR's Dec 12; spring 13 IC says:

    Dear Carolyn
    Checking in! Thanks for the free lesson & videos! I shall be experimenting over our long weekend..
    Erica

  8. 9

    Dear Monique,
    Thank you for connecting. It is good to hear that you enjoyed each subject on the blog.
    Warm hugs,
    Carolyn

  9. 8

    Dear Carolyn, beautiful blog – and the YTclips are absolutely gorgeous – both horses and camels…
    And you are looking so well – your energy is sparkling – Apollo cannot but mirror this as well – THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR…

    My personal experience is that the LFB ritual is a perfect introduction to lungeing as well – perhaps a ‘driving’ ritual yet at the same time it is part of herd dynamics too – of course it is never or or or – it is always and and and ..

    Warmly,
    Geerteke

  10. 7
    Hertha says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    How delightful to find an ‘instructor’ who actually approaches ‘circle work’ with common sense and from the horse’s viewpoint.

    I hate the term ‘lunging or longing’ or whatever. Most people don’t realise how hard it is for horses to move continuously in a circle. It is not something they generally do except for short bursts when they are high on adrenalin.

    There are a lot of little yoga type exercises we can do with horses to build their horizontal suppleness. We can gently encourage the hind leg to step under and the front leg to step over by walking together around barrels, making U-turns. We can weave around objects and/or over rails laid in a line or a circle. We can send a horse out between two parallel rails, around the end, and draw him back to us. We can ask the horse to walk toward us and then ask the shoulder to move over and out away from us. This is easier for the horse because he is already in motion. We can ask for shoulder in and haunches in (on the right and left sides of the horse) to encourage stretching along both sides. We can walk a cloverleaf pattern together across four sides of a box made of rails on the ground. We can walk together around the outside of the same box, with 90 degree changes of direction. And so on.

    When all the above are well understood and used for warm-up, then working on a circle is just one more gymnasticising task.

    I think a lot of horses are taught circles in a ‘driving’ way which to them means they are being driven out of the security of ‘their herd’ and it becomes psychologically problematic for them.

    So I love the quiet way you start, with the ‘halt’ and ‘parking’ interludes plus starting always from a place of ‘calm’.

  11. 6
    Nancy Sgroi says:

    Hi Carolyn,
    Thank you so much for the lesson. My Warrior always comes in to me, and I never knew how to change that. What I am learning is that MY lack of knowing is the problem! We will try again tomorrow, the correct way.

    Loved the camel spot. What a interesting man. I wonder how he chose camels for his message, which is wonderful, in this fast paced world people find it hard to find time to just contemplate and to just be. Delightful of you to share him.

    Loved the red blanket too!

    • 6.1

      Dear Nancy,
      I think Stuart was drawn to camels like we are drawn to horses. A day with the camels is a great thing to experience on the weekend. Everyone these days is looking for these kind of connections back to nature. The camels are on a property of 25,000 acres. For people to feel is kind of uninterrupted nature in California is unique.
      What ever Stuart is focused on draws people to his interest because of his insights to life.

      Let me know how my exercise works out for you. Thank you for reading my blog

      Take care,
      Carolyn

  12. 5
    Debra Turi says:

    Dear Carolyn,

    I really really loved this free lesson. I would love to try it. I have tried to lunge him gently in his pasture when I had his attention, but he decided to take off on me. The only other place I have is a round pen. The round pen has weeds and pasture has grass. I have no clue what to do when all he wants to do is eat, which is all the time by the way. I hardly play with him on line in the arena or pasture.

    I really need some help in what to do when he constantly wants to graze. This is mostly when he is off line. However, when I use the line, he wants to eat a lot!

    I have spent hours and hours of sharing territory, but the grass problem really causes problems with everything I try.

    I have been following you for three years now, blogs, videos, etc. The barn I board at isn’t exactly paradise.

    Debbie

    • 5.1

      Dear Debbie,
      I would suggest removing the weeds in the round pen or you could ask him to move around in the weeds and when he stops to eat encourage him to move on and finely he will keep moving. Take your time.
      You could set with him in the round pen and let him eat all the weeds out of it. Creative solutions is always fun.

      Thanks for reading my blog and written in.

      Warmly,
      Carolyn

  13. 4
    joanna blake says:

    thank you for a wonderful blog – really clearly demonstrated why sun has been falling in on the circle and the tiny steps to remedy it, thanks, i’ll try it first thing tomorrow. many thanks again, joanna

    • 4.1

      Dear Joanna,
      Let me know if the exercise was of help.

      Carolyn

      • 4.1.1
        joanna blake says:

        dear carolyn, we’ve tried the approach you show in the videos for two days in a row and sun is halting without turning in each time now, and nicely with her weight on her haunches. i asked for a few steps out on the circle and she maintained it for a few steps and then came in a bit so i paused, asked her to turn out on the circle, paused, got a treat. the exercise was of great help, many thanks and i can see how proceeding this methodically really helps the horse understand.

  14. 3
    Tamara Blits says:

    Thank you so much Carolyn; You are so good with life. I loved your videos, and the easy way you train horses. I’m gonna work on the whoa. I loved watching Stuart and his loving heart. I felt like I was in another world. I’m so thankful for great people, who love life.

  15. 2

    Dear Carolyn,

    Such an interesting post! I loved the part on lunging a horse, but will wait until I know more before trying it.

    Loved the camel videos–entrancing! They are such interesting creatures. And the red blanket story was great fun!

    Thanks again for all you do!

    — Kay

  16. 1

    Hi Carolyn

    Thank you SO much for GREAT lurning blog, it wil help me on mine way.

    And than, the camels, OHH mine, i reale realy l♥♥♥ve that.

    And then, the story of Docker and the red blancet :-) greatttt.

    This was lurning, fun and Joy

    Thanksssss

    Lots of love Monique