Lunging Techniques For Improving Horse Behavior

If you want to improve the performance of your horse, it’s important to spend some time working on lunging techniques. 

Horses are social animals that enjoy being around other horses, so it’s good for them to be able to move freely. 

Lunge lines help you get your horse used to something new without letting them run off or get scared about what’s going on around them.

How to Lunge a Horse Safely
Lunging is an essential part of horse training that can improve your horse’s behavior and performance.
Incorporating ground work into your horse’s training routine can provide a strong foundation for success.
Western riding has a unique style and culture that sets it apart from other equestrian disciplines.
Fear-based behaviors can be addressed through desensitization and other horse training techniques.
Dressage requires a deep understanding of horse biomechanics and training principles to achieve precision and elegance.

Work on Transitions

Transitions are important for horse training, but they’re also important for improving your horse’s behavior. 

Transitions are changes of direction, such as from walk to trot and vice versa. You could also think of this as moving from one exercise or routine to another, like going from lunging in circles to lunging on long lines.

Transitions are an opportunity for your horse to make mistakes–for example, he might balk at stopping in place while you’re riding him in circle exercises or refuse his lead change when you go from cantering around a circle into trotting over poles or jumping fences. 

If this happens consistently throughout your work with him (and especially if he does it during competition), then it could be time to start working on transitions!

Ground work is an essential part of horse training that builds a strong foundation for your horse’s success. Learn more about the benefits of ground work and how to incorporate it into your training routine with our guide on the importance of ground work for horses.

Work on Walking in a Circle

Walking in a circle is a great way to work on transitions. A horse should be able to walk in a circle without turning around, stopping or running away from you. 

This exercise will help your horse become more confident about walking near you and learning how to follow your lead when you do something unexpected like stop suddenly or change directions.

If your horse has trouble staying with you while you’re walking around them, try backing away from him until he gets used to following your movements without getting too close so that he doesn’t feel threatened by being too close behind him (if this happens often). 

Once he gets used t

Work on Transitions on a Curve

We often use the term “transition” to describe a horse’s movement from one direction to another. However, transitions can also occur when an animal is moving in a straight line and needs to turn its body or head in the opposite direction of its current path. 

This can be helpful for getting your horse out of his comfort zone when lunging on the ground or during groundwork exercises in order for him to learn how much pressure he needs to apply against his handler while performing certain tasks.

  • Use A Whip Or Crop To Get The Horse To Move Away From You

This is especially useful if you have an animal who likes being right next to you at all times (like mine). In order for them not only get away from us but also turn around while doing so, we need something firmer than just our hands alone–such as a whip or crop!

Jumping is an exciting and thrilling equestrian discipline that requires skill and practice. Enhance your jumping techniques with our guide on jumping techniques for advanced riders and take your riding to the next level.

Work on Ground Poles

A ground pole is a piece of wood that’s about 4 feet long. It has nails or screws in the top, so you can attach your lunge line to it. The idea is that your horse will learn to move away from the ground pole when it feels uncomfortable or gets scared, instead of just standing there and freaking out.

The best way to teach your horse how to use a ground pole is by walking him up next to one on purpose, then backing away from him as soon as he touches it with his nose or front legs (or both). 

You should also make sure that they’re wearing blinkers while they do this so they don’t see any scary objects behind them! If your horse doesn’t seem interested in moving away from the ground pole at first, try tapping its rear end gently with something like an empty water bottle until it moves off into another area of space where there aren’t any scary objects lurking nearby.”

Work on the Reverse Arc

Now that you’re familiar with forward lunging, it’s time to try out the reverse arc. The same principles apply: keep your horse moving forward and don’t let him stop or turn around. To begin, start small with a small arc and gradually increase its size until you can do a big circle around yourself. 

As with the previous exercise, it’s important not to pull too hard on the line or otherwise force your horse into making any particular shape; rather, let him find his own way through this exercise while keeping his body straight and relaxed (i.e., working from behind). 

Again, if at any point during this process he tries stopping or turning around instead of continuing along in an open-ended line–which would be like driving off-road without knowing where you’re going–simply bring him back around again so that he knows what’s expected of him before trying again with less resistance against those movements next time!

Western riding has a unique style and culture that sets it apart from other equestrian disciplines. If you’re new to western riding, check out our guide on western riding tips for beginners to learn more about the fundamentals of this exciting sport.

Make it Fun for Your Horse

When lunging, make it fun for your horse. You want to keep the session as positive and rewarding as possible by using treats and praise instead of harsh corrections. If you are having fun, your horse will be more likely to cooperate with you during training sessions.

If you find that your horse is becoming bored or frustrated during lunging sessions, then it may be time to change up their routine or switch back into regular riding mode for a few days before returning again.

Don’t Overdo It

When lunging, you should always keep in mind that you don’t want to overdo it. If your horse is getting tired or frustrated, stop and take a break! It’s better for you and your horse if you do less and do it well instead of pushing them beyond what they are ready for.

If there isn’t any progress after two weeks of working with the same level of difficulty (such as length of lunge line), then try increasing the difficulty slightly by adding another foot or two onto the lunge line before making another change in its length again.

Horses can be easily spooked by unfamiliar objects, sounds, and locations. If your horse is struggling with fear-based behavior, our guide on desensitizing your horse to common fears can help you train your horse to be calm and confident in any situation.

Wear Safety Gear for your Protection

Wear safety gear for your protection.

  • Wear a helmet (and be sure to check it’s secured properly).
  • Wear gloves and boots that fit well, are comfortable, and provide good ankle support.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts or jackets made of breathable material that won’t chafe if they get caught in the reins or bit.
  • Wear riding pants made of sturdy fabric with reinforced knees and seat areas so they last longer than regular jeans or other denim garments would under similar circumstances

A Lunge Line Must Be Kept Short and Taut at All Times

A lunge line must be short and taut at all times. The longer the line, the more difficult it is to control your horse. 

If your horse has too much rein, he will become lazy in his movements and training will not progress as quickly. 

If he doesn’t have enough rein, he will not be able to work effectively with you or develop good habits like picking up his feet when asked or standing quietly at the mounting block.

The lunging area should also have a large pen that is fenced off from other horses so that no one else can interfere with your training session by coming into contact with either of you while exercising together

ControlA shorter lunge line allows for greater control over your horse’s movement, making it easier to guide them and correct unwanted behavior.
SafetyA shorter lunge line reduces the risk of your horse tripping or becoming tangled up in the line. It also makes it easier to prevent your horse from running off or spooking.
CommunicationA taut lunge line facilitates clearer communication between you and your horse, allowing you to give more precise cues and direction.
ExerciseBy keeping your horse moving in a controlled circle, you can provide them with a safe and effective form of exercise, helping to maintain their fitness and conditioning.
TrainingA shorter lunge line can be a valuable tool for training your horse, allowing you to work on specific skills or behavior issues in a controlled environment.

Remember that the length of your lunge line will depend on your horse’s size, as well as the size and shape of your lunging area. It’s important to use a high-quality, durable lunge line that won’t stretch or break, and to always maintain a firm grip on the line while lunging your horse for greater safety and control.

Horses Need to Be Taught to Lunge in Both Directions

Teaching your horse to lunge in both directions is essential for his safety and yours.

If you only teach him to come forward, he will be unable to turn around or move away from something that frightens him.

Use a long line when teaching your horse to lunge in both directions so that he has more freedom of movement around the circle and can learn how far away from you he should stay when lunging on a short line (see below).

Dressage is a highly technical and precise form of riding that requires a deep understanding of horse biomechanics and training techniques. If you’re new to dressage, check out our guide on Dressage 101: Understanding the Basics to learn more about the foundational principles of this elegant equestrian discipline.

Know When To Make Changes To Improve Movement And Behavior Issues

When you’re working with your horse, it’s important to be able to read his body language and make changes as needed. 

This will help you know when to seek help from a professional if there are issues with movement or behavior that need more than what you can offer on your own.

If your horse is showing signs of discomfort, pain or fear when lunging (such as head tossing), then it may be time for him to see a chiropractor or equine massage therapist in order for them to evaluate if there is any underlying issue causing this behavior. 

Once they’ve determined the cause, they can develop an exercise program specifically suited for each individual horse’s needs based on their diagnosis so that everyone stays healthy while improving their overall quality of life!

Making Changes To Improve Movement and Behavior Issues

Here’s a table outlining some factors to consider when making changes to your horse’s training routine:

FactorSigns of a ProblemPossible Solutions
Saddle FitRefusal to move forward, resistance, change in behavior or postureConsult with a saddle fitter or invest in a new saddle with appropriate fit
NutritionDull coat, decreased energy, lack of focus, uneven musculatureAdjust feed and supplement program as needed
Hoof HealthStiffness, short strides, uneven gaitRegular farrier visits, proper balancing and shoeing, regular hoof maintenance
Dental CareDifficulty chewing, dropping feed, head tossing, resistance to bitRegular dental check-ups, appropriate bit and bridle fit
Tack FitSoreness, rubbing, change in behavior or postureEnsure proper fit of all tack, including saddle, bridle, girth, and protective gear

These are just a few examples, and it’s important to assess your horse’s individual needs and consult with a veterinarian, trainer, or other equine professional as needed to determine the best course of action.

Remember, making changes to your horse’s training routine can take time and patience, but the end result is worth it for a healthier, happier, and better-performing horse.


Now that you know how to lunge a horse, it’s time for the fun part! Get out there and start working on your horse’s behavior issues. 

Remember that it’s important to take your time, make sure your horse is comfortable with all of these exercises before trying something new and always wear safety gear when working with horses.

Further Reading

If you want to learn more about lunging horses and its techniques, here are a few more resources to check out:

Petplan Equine’s Guide to Lunging: This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about lunging horses, from basic techniques to advanced skills.

Farmhouse Tack’s Tips and Techniques for Lunging Horses: This blog post provides practical tips and tricks for lunging horses effectively, based on the author’s personal experience and expertise.

The Plaid Horse’s 5 Tips for Better Lunging: This article offers five tried-and-true tips for improving your lunging skills and getting the most out of your horse’s training sessions.


What is horse lunging and why is it important?

Horse lunging is a training technique where a horse is moved in a continuous circle on a lunge line. It’s an important tool for developing a horse’s balance, strength, and flexibility, as well as improving their behavior and obedience under saddle.

What equipment do I need for lunging a horse?

You will need a lunge line, a lunge whip, a lunging cavesson or bridle, and appropriate safety gear for both you and your horse. It’s important to use high-quality equipment that fits well and is in good condition to ensure your horse’s safety and comfort.

How do I lunge a horse properly?

First, ensure that your horse is properly warmed up and that you have the appropriate equipment. Then, position yourself in the center of the circle and use your lunge whip, voice, and body language to direct your horse’s movement. Remember to be patient and consistent, and to reward your horse for good behavior.

Can lunging a horse be harmful or dangerous?

Like any equestrian activity, there is some risk involved in lunging a horse. However, by following proper safety protocols and using high-quality equipment, you can minimize the risk of injury to both you and your horse.

How often should I lunge my horse?

The frequency and duration of lunging sessions depend on your horse’s individual needs and fitness level, as well as your training goals. It’s important to strike a balance between challenging your horse and avoiding overexertion or burnout. As a general guideline, most horses benefit from one or two lunging sessions per week, lasting around 20-30 minutes each.