What Does Lunging A Horse Mean & Why Is It Important?


Have you ever been at a barn, horse facility, or a horse show and wondered why on earth people were having their horses run around and around them on a rope? That is called lunging and it is a very popular and common way to give your horse exercise without you needing to ride them to give them the workout.

What Is Lunging?

Lunging is basically a way to give your horse exercise from the ground. Lunging consists of a horse running around in circles around the person directing the lunging session. When lunging, the horse will run circles while the person directing the lunging session will tell the horse which direction to go, how fast to go, and when they should stop. This is a great form of exercise that helps the horse better understand and read your body language while also giving them a good workout without having to carry a rider around.

What Are The Benefits Of Lunging A Horse?

Lunging has so many different benefits to it that make it something definitely worth doing with your horse. To name a few of the known benefits of lunging, they include:

Strengthening Both Of Your Horse’s Sides

Just like in people, horses have a stronger and a weaker side. For me, my right side is stronger than my left side so many tasks that I do I prefer to use my right side. Horses are the same! This can be seen in how smooth the horse’s gaits are going one way or the other, or which lead you horse prefers to pick up over the other.

Through lunging, you can help to strengthen those weaker sides and gaits in your horse by working them consistently going one way. One way to do this is by having them practice picking up the correct lead for going that specific direction or only focusing on that specific side when lunging to strengthen it more.

Less Work For You!

If you are lunging a horse, you mainly will be standing or walking while your horse travels around you. Because of this, you are able to give your horse a workout without having to be astride him to direct him in his next move.

It’s A Great Warmup For Your Horse

Before a ride, especially if your horse is fresh, it is a great idea to warm your horse up on the lunge line. This helps to put your horse into work mode and prepare them for the ride.

It Lets You Get All Of Your Horse’s Bucks Out Before You Get On

I ride a cute little mare named Olivia who I am known to get bucked off of consistently. I like to lunge her and let her buck it out before we start riding so she can get all of that bucking out. Once she is done bucking and racing around me, she calms down and starts responding to my cues. It is when she does this that I know she has ‘bucked it out.’

Why Do People Lunge Their Horses?

People lunge their horses to keep them fit, healthy, active, and calm. They also will do this for all the benefits that I mentioned just above. Lunging is a great way to keep your horse in shape which is the main reason why people do it.

When Should I Lunge My Horse?

There are a few times that I recommend lunging your horse. These include:

  • Before a ride if your horse is fresh
  • If you don’t have enough time to ride but still want your horse to get exercise
  • If the conditions aren’t the best for riding
  • Before you ride if the weather is cold as horses tend to be more fresh and unpredictable in the cold.

What Is A Lunge Line?

A lunge line is kind of like a really really long lead rope that is used to hold onto the horse you are lunging to keep them in a circle around you. They can come as a nylon strap or in a similar design as a standard lead rope.

What Is A Lunge Whip?

A lunge whip is basically a long whip that has a long line attached to the end where if whipped properly, it will make a cracking noise. This can be used to guide the horse in the direction that you want them to go or make them go faster by making the whip crack.

Can I Lunge My Horse Without A Lunge Line?

Absolutely! You can lunge your horse without a lunge line quite easily. This can be done in a round pen where your horse just runs around the perimeter, or you can train your horse to stay in a circle around you and that can be done almost anywhere.

Where Should I Lunge My Horse?

If you don’t have good access to an arena or round pen, try to find some sort of enclosed space to lunge your horse in. It is best to lunge your horse in a flat open space with few obstacles. This way, the horse has nothing in his way and he can easily move around freely.

How Often Should My Horse Be Lunged?

How often you lunge your horse is up to you. Some people like to lunge their horses before every ride while others just do it when they aren’t able to ride for whatever reason.

How Do You Lunge A Horse?

To lunge a horse, you want to stand in a way where you are always at their rear and driving them forward. If you don’t do this and you stand too far forward, the horse will either think you want him to turn around, come to you, or stop. Standing to the rear of the horse when they are moving shows him that you want him to move forward.

If you are using a lunge whip, hold it in the hand that will be behind the horse. This will make the horse feel that there is some sort of barrier behind him and that turning is not an option.

If your horse keeps turning to face you and consistently tries to get out of work, continue walking towards the hind of the horse which prevents them from turning to face you.

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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