Longeing horses correctly: what you should know about it

The horse is quickly put on the lunge line, if time does not permit it otherwise, perhaps also due to injury or simply out of laziness. The main thing is to move, is the motto and it is not really paid attention to how the horse goes. Actually a pity, if you consider that by proper lunging much more can be achieved than just kicking the legs. How to lunge correctly, what you can achieve by lunging correctly and much more about the subject, you will learn in this article.

What is the purpose of lunging the horse??

Lunging looks quite simple. The person stands in the middle, holding the lunge in his hand, which is hooked on the snaffle, cavesson or halter at the horse and lets the animal run in a circle around him. What can be difficult about it?!

However, as almost always in equestrian sports, it is not as easy as it looks and in the worst case it can even harm the horse. Running in circles is not one of the horse’s strong points, and when lunging incorrectly, the horse runs on a curved line, but is not itself posed or curved. The head points outward to better maintain balance and the horse’s body is set against the direction of the circle. This puts a lot of stress especially on the inside front leg. The oblique hoofing also puts stress on the tendons and joints. In addition, due to the natural crookedness of the horse, the animals have a good and a bad side, which can increase the negative aspects again. Therefore, do not take lunging lightly and let a trainer or another experienced person show you how to do it properly, if you are a beginner in this field. Because with correct execution it can be useful to you in many areas of the horse training.

Most of the horses’ careers started with lunging. In this way, the animal can be gently accustomed to the snaffle, saddle, commands, people and everything else that belongs to riding or driving. In addition, the muscles are trained without the additional weight of the rider, which is especially good for the horse’s back. At the beginning it is difficult for horses to walk cleanly on an arc, but regular lunging promotes balance and soon you should see progress.

When lunging correctly, the horse should lean on the bit or bridle at any gait and arch its back. The muscles are built up and the horse can carry itself better. The under-stepping of the hindquarters under the body’s center of gravity is encouraged and the gaits become more ground covering. Especially in case of tension in the back muscles, stretching forward-downward without rider’s weight is worth its weight in gold. By working with poles or cavalettis, the gymnastic effect can be intensified even more.

After injuries or other health reasons a rebuilding training at the lunge can be required. A visit to the dentist often means that the use of a bit should be avoided for some time. Lunging on a cavesson is a good way to get the horse moving anyway. Besides, let’s be honest, who hasn’t had their butt saved by lunging a powder keg on four legs a time or two??

As you can see, lunging can be used in many different ways, but all of them are based on correct execution.

This is the equipment you need for lunging

Prerequisite for a good training session on the lunge is the right equipment. For your own safety, but also to protect your four-legged friend from injury, you should always (. ) Wear gloves and sturdy shoes when lunging your horse. Often the animals take advantage of the opportunity to let off steam without a rider and even the most well-behaved animals can get spooked, lunge or buck. A good grip on your own feet and a firm grip on the lunge line is required. You can get bad burns if the horse pulls the lunge through your unprotected hands. Maybe you have already made this painful experience yourself, because it can happen quickly even when leading the horse without gloves. A horse on the lunge line without a human holding the other end can be really dangerous as the horses panic from the trailing lunge line. If you are alone on a lunge circle, this is usually not so bad, but in the riding arena with other horses it can lead to dangerous situations and accidents.

This is why lunging on a halter is forbidden even in some stables when other horses are in the same lane. The reason for this rule is that the control is not equally given with the halter and the horses can break away faster. It is also best to leave your spurs in the cupboard, because they can become a nasty trip hazard. At least possible spectators would then at least have something to laugh about.


Of course, lunging includes the lunge, which should allow at least a 15 m circle radius. The most common material from which the lunges are made is nylon. They are soft in the hand and also lightweight. One side is attached to the horse’s head with a carabiner and the other side is held firmly in your hand with the loop. The lunge bridle creates a connection between the hand and the horse’s mouth in the same way as the reins. Therefore, you should always be soft with the hand and not give aids jerky. Always keep the lunge in neat loops.

Lungeing whip

The lungeing whip replaces the thigh aid and should always be present when lunging, even if your horse goes forward well on its own. It is not only used for driving, but also helps you to keep your horse on the line. It should be long enough so that you can just touch the animal while it is moving on the long lunge line. Many commercial lunging whips have a too short leather strap and the four-legged friends have often very quickly out-touched, if they are out of the danger zone. Many interesting contortions on the part of the lungers to try to reach the horse somehow can be observed in these situations. You make the whole undertaking easier if the lungeing whip is as light as possible. Otherwise this can quickly become very strenuous and tiring for the arm.

Lunging girth and lunging pad

Instead of a saddle for lunging, you can use the specially designed lungeing girth. It is very light and has several rings to which you can attach the bridle. You should use a lunge pad so that it does not fly up directly on the horse’s coat and withers. These pad the girth better than a saddle pad and your horse sweats less.

Leg protection

When lunging, it can sometimes be wild to ge hen. Therefore you should protect the legs of your quadruped with gaiters or bandages. Even the kicking of a horseshoe or ball kicks are quickly done on the lunge line. You can prevent this with the suitable hoof bells well.

Snaffle, cavesson or halter

In order for you to attach the lunge to your horse, a snaffle, cavesson or halter must be put on him. Keep in mind, however, that you cannot give any real help with the halter. In addition, it often slips unnoticed on the opposite side of the head in the direction of the eye and can be very unpleasant for the horse. For loose jogging on the lungeing circle you can use a halter, but a cavesson would be better.

The difference between a snaffle and a cavesson for lunging

In the meantime, the snaffle has been superseded by the cavesson on the popularity scale for lunging, and this has its reasons. In a cavesson, the lunge is attached to a ring, which is located on the stable noseband.

This avoids a permanent, one-sided pull on the horse’s mouth from a lunge hooked to the bit. When lunging with a snaffle, it is not uncommon for the bit to be pulled out a little on one side of the mouth. This is painful for the horse and very counterproductive for the actual purpose of lunging, to work the horse loose over the back.

Opponents of the cavesson argue that young horses should get used to the bit and the reins. However, there are cross bridles in which bits can be attached. Thus you can buckle the lunge at the Kappzaum and possible Ausbinder at the bit. Fine aids on the bit with the lunge are hardly possible anyway and with the described construction you have combined the positive aspects of both variants. Many horses that are sensitive in the mouth and find it difficult to lunge at the bit have problems being ridden correctly forward-downward. The cavesson is a good way to work this out on the lunge line. Once the animal has built up the right muscles and internalized the exercise, it is often easier under the saddle.

Lunging with or without auxiliary reins?

This topic can be discussed for hours in the horse world and there are at least as many opinions about it as there are horses in the world. Okay – let’s not exaggerate, but every rider has certainly been involved in a heated discussion about the pros and cons of auxiliary reins. However, it is not done with the question whether auxiliary reins yes or no, because there are also many different variants and designs. It should be mentioned in advance that every auxiliary rein is only as good as it is used for lunging. A passive lunge leader can contribute to not getting the full effect, and the horse can get stuck behind the ties and co. "hunkered down". Which different auxiliary reins there are, you can read in the appropriate blog post about it.

The basic rule is that the horse’s forehead-nose line must always be in front of the vertical when the auxiliary reins are buckled. Especially with young animals you should buckle them longer, so that they can balance themselves better. Auxiliary reins can be helpful for horses that have trouble stretching forward-downward, pushing their backs away or pulling their heads up. Especially triangle reins have proven to be useful to show the horse the way to stretch without influencing the gait too much. Of course only under the condition not to be adjusted too short. For proper buckling, attach one end to the belly girth. The leather strap leads from the girth between the forelegs and forks into two separate straps. These are now passed through the snaffle rings on the left and right and buckled to the side of the lunge strap at the level of the nose joint.

If you do not have a lunge rein at hand, you can also use loop reins and fasten them in the same way. However, knotting one end of the lunge strap is a matter of practice, so that they stay where they are supposed to.

The lunging aid: really an aid for lunging?

Quite practical appears at first glance the lunging aid, or also called knitted lunge, for easy lunging without saddle or lunging girth. The lungeing aid is simply a rope made of tree wool or other material with a hook to attach to the snaffle ring at each end. It is placed over the saddle position and led between the front legs to the snaffle ring. The length can usually be adjusted by a loop in the middle. One advantage is that they can be put on quickly and no girth or saddle is needed. However, this is probably the only positive aspect that can be gained from the lungeing aids. They can show the horse the way down, but they do not limit him laterally, nor do they allow a constant leaning. With every step the rope is pulled back between the front legs and exerts a pull on the horse’s mouth as well as the horse’s back. Due to this constant movement, the rough rope between the forelegs and the back chafes and in the worst case can lead to deep skin injuries. If the horse tears its head up in pain, this unfortunately has the opposite effect and rubs all the more strongly against the affected areas of skin. A vicious circle is created from which the horse cannot escape and unfortunately this is often interpreted as disobedience on the part of the animal.

Since the rope is not fixed anywhere, it can move freely over the back and thus does not provide a constant connection. Often the lunging aid slips to the right or left and results in a wrongly positioned horse. The risk of injury should also not be underestimated, as the horse can easily step into the ropes in a low head position. This can really end very badly.

Therefore, take a little more effort and tie your horse correctly to a lungeing harness or use a cavesson without any auxiliary reins.

Lunging: helpful tips

Don’t underestimate lunging: proper lunging needs to be learned, otherwise it can harm the horse. Let someone show you who really knows how to do it.

Horses also have to learn first: especially young horses find it very difficult to walk in circles at the beginning. Have patience and pay attention to correct aids. Remember that lunging is an important building block for further training.

Hold the lunge like the reins: Usually the lunge is held in the fist. However, you can give aids much finer, if you lead them like the reins. Through the lunge line, a connection between hand and horse’s mouth is created, analogous to the rein. Therefore you should always be soft with the hand and not give aids jerkily. Be sure never to wrap the lunge around your hand, this can have bad consequences.

Be consistent: Many riders use lunging to let the animals run wild and do not pay attention to consistent aids. However, this way you teach your horse not to listen to you. If you ask for a walk, the horse should also walk, etc.

No cold start: It is dangerous if the four-legged friend immediately romps off on the lunge line without warming up. As with riding: 10-15 minutes of walking

Regular hand changes: Don’t forget to change hands every few minutes to avoid putting more strain on one side

Incorporate variety: Don’t lunge dully at one pace around you. Build in transitions as well as tempi changes or use poles and cavalettis. This is how you promote concentration and condition of your horse

Do not give commands all the time: Don’t try to constantly tell your horse what to do, because if you give the same command many times in a row without changing the way you do it, your horse will become dull. If he does not respond to your voice, use the whip and increase the intensity.

Good lunging has many positive effects and especially the gymnastics of the horse is in the foreground. However, inconsistent, unthought-out lunging can result in at least as many negative effects. Be more aware of this next time you come to the stable in a hurry and just want to move your horse on the lunge for a moment.

To make lunging a success, we at Fundis Reitsport support you and your horse with the right lunging supplies.

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