Learning how to lunge a horse, many say, is an important process of building a stronger connection between you and your horse regardless of which methodology you use.
I find it a great way to spend time with with my horse on the ground where I feel a special connection with her. As I lunge my horse and through my energy awareness I am able to (most moments!) get her to shift from a walk, trot, or canter. It’s very cool how when you put that intent through thoughts and body language she responds to me,
There are many people who say lunging is about the horse learning to understand that the human is in control and being the herd leader. This may be so for some, however I don’t do it to be in control.
Benefits to Lunging a Horse
I lunge to link up with her in partnership. I lunge because I love the connection that develops. There’s a feeling of being close to my horse, like a friend who understands me. And I lunge so that my connection with my horse is better in the saddle. And, you can use lunging as a way to teach your horse commands such as walk, trot, canter, and the most important one of all Whoa!
In short, lunging is great way of building the relationship between you and your horse so that when you are riding you both understand each other and can live in the flow of the experience.
What is Required to Lunge a Horse
You can lunge a horse in a round pen at liberty or with a lunge line. The ground beneath must be flat and free of pot holes to keep the horse’s feet and legs from injury. For the lunge line it is recommended the minimum length be 12 feet and the maximum with whatever you are comfortable.
I also use a lunge whip. A lunge whip is merely an extension of your own energy and should never touch the horse. It’s purpose is to encourage the horse to move in the direction you ask of him. It’s purpose is never to scare, confuse or hurt her. It simply allows you to move the energy and is a form of communication she can understand.
How to Lunge a Horse
To get my horse started I do one of two things, and this depends on how well she’s listening to me on any given day. First, I gently place my hand on the side of her face and push her away from me as I hold the lunge whip in my hand and point it toward her hind quarters. I then back up and she will begin to walk around me.
There are times when this doesn’t work and she simply begins to follow me. When this happens I shake the lunge line and this will get her going around me.
When she’s walking around me counterclockwise, the lunge line in my left hand and I hold my arm up showing her the direction she is to go. With the lunge whip in my right hand I am either pointing it towards her hind quarter or I am flipping it in circles without touching her. The need to flip the whip is usually because she’s not understanding that I want her to increase her speed.
As I flip the whip in circles I will also use the verbal cue. For example, when I want her to slow down to a walk I will stop flipping the whip and say ‘walk’.
At Easy Horse Training there is a video of Annabelle Cabella showing you how to lunge her horse, Prairie.
Have a Happy Horse Day and please feel free to comment below.