Lunging horses


Before you start this exercise It is important that the Basic Communication with your horse is good, so that you understand the horse and the horse you (see Basic groundwork exercises).

And your horse need to be familiar with Step 1, 2 and 3:

Step 1 Working of the cavesson

Step 2 Stelling and Bending in Standstill

Step 3 LFS on the circle


Lunging is a very good way of training horses and, if done properly, is a complete workout. It gives you the opportunity to take a good look at the horse while its moving and to be able to do a workout without the weight of the rider. But lunging well is difficult. Hereby I give you 5 handy tips that can help you:


I have some useful tips for you.

TIP 1 Use a cavesson

A cavesson is a bitless ‘bridle’ on the nose of the horse. By using a cavesson you do not bother the horse in his mouth and you work directly through the nose on the head and the placement of the jaw. The lunge line is attached to the middle ring of the cavesson during lunging and this makes asking stelling and bending much more understandable for the horse than, for example, by lunging with a bridle and bit, while the bit is only working on the lower jaw.


TIP 2 Take the correct posture and position

Your posture and position on the circle is very important. Your posture must always be relaxed and self-confident. You can also make yourself bigger, for example if you want to drive the horse away from you. By keeping your arms wider apart and bringing your shoulders back and walking with more energy. Or make yourself small by keeping your arms close to your body and moving your shoulders a little forward and moving slower.

Always keep moving along with the horse while lunging. So with your belly forward with the horse. If you do not do this and walk backwards, for example, the horse will fall to the inside because that is what your asking with your body language. Also keep moving along on a circle yourself, as soon as you deviate from your circle line, you push the horse with your body language out with the shoulders or the hindquarters.


TIP 3 Use the whip as an aid

The whip is very important as an aid while lunging. It ensures that the horse bends around your imaginary inner leg. The whip can be a driving, braking or action enhancing aid. You can also use the whip to move the front and back of the horse, more to the inside or to the outside. You can use the whip optically, with calm pressure or make short, quick “flicks” with it.

If your horse accelerates as soon as you use the whip for lunging, you can work on this and let the horse get used to the fact that the whip is not a punishment but a tool.


TIP 4 Aids with the lunge

You always hold the lunge in your guiding hand (the hand that is closest to the head, this is your left hand when going to the left and your right hand while going to the right). The end of the lunge you hold in your driving hand with the whip.

With the lunge in your hand you have a connection with the horse and you can feel whether the horse is giving or resisting. Ask the horse to give by closing your hand and giving some resistance to the lunge – if all goes well the horse will give – then you open your hand again – the horse searches for the hand. Be sensitive, never put too much pressure on the lunge for too long, too much or too unexpectedly. The horse will respond by going against this pressure

Through the lunge you ask the horse to take stelling to the inside. Note, as soon as the horse takes stelling, you release the pressure from the lunge.

By keeping the lunge low you ask the horse to lower the head and neck downwards and you also invite the horse to move forward

Keeping the lunge high has a braking effect, and can be used to raise the head and can be used to ask the horse to move of the inner shoulder, so rebalancing.

By pointing with a lunge in your hand to a place farther ahead on the circle, you can ensure that your horse comes off the outside shoulder and moves more in balance on a circle.


TIP 5 Provide variety and pay attention!

Don’t lunge too often. Once a week is more than enough and do not increase the pace (especially not on small circles) when your horse is not in balance and therefore always looks to the outside or is crooked. This is because it is very bad for the body and can cause various problems. Variation is the keyword! Endless laps are boring and demotivate your horse to work with you. So make enough transitions, also in the gates themselves. You can also try making transitions from stop to trot and from walk to canter and vice versa. Try if you can increase and decrease the circle lines.

Also use bars, cavaletti or a jump (see also: advantages of using cavaletti and jumps) Or try to ask your horse straight and make it move on a large square.

Good luck!!


Are you curious how you too can teach this to your horse?

Go to the Online Gymnastics Basic Course