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 [email protected]

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

Warmly, Carolyn


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.


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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