Lunging - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-13-2013, 11:21 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Ok, I always read about lunging and how it needs to be done right or your just running them in circles so I have some questions that I hope will help me and lots of others.

My reason for lunging is to get the horse working off verbal cues. So, what do you do when they just keep going?? You tell them to whoa and they keep going or stepping to the front of them just gets them to turn around or rush past?? Or to get them to go from a canter to a trot, or walk. What do you do if they ignore you or do not know what you are asking???

I would love to hear how everyone takes a horse that may not know these things or needs a refresher and gets it done.


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post #2 of 12 Old 05-13-2013, 12:56 PM
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Hi There, it can be tricky when your horse won't whoa on the lunge line because as you have implied, there is only so much you can do from the center of that lunge circle. Here are a few ideas and things to consider. First, make sure that you are asking him to whoa correctly---I tend to use the same voice intonation and wording for each command everytime---consistency is key! Consider using these voice commands while you ride him to really enforce those commands. I tend to also use a sort of soothing, deeper voice when asking for down transitions, I think they pick up on that. As you give the voice command for a down transition, be sure that you drop the tip of you whip down or bring it behind you even and if you need a little more help, consider giving a fluid tug or 2 on the lunge (not a jerk, but a slow, fluid tug) like you might if you had them on a leadline and were asking them to whoa.

If you are asking correctly and your horse still won't whoa, this implies that he may have excessive energy that he needs to get rid of OR he is just ignoring you. To me, you can't expect a horse with excessive energy to have a productive session on the lounge line until he has gotten rid of that energy. In any case---whether they have excessive energy or are ignoring you, the answer to the issue is the same---make them work! What I mean is---if they won't whoa, make them work harder. If they are walking but won't stop, immediately ask them to trot. If they are trotting but won't walk, make them canter. Pretty soon, they will learn that not listening to you results in harder work. Now the one important caveat is that if they are cantering and won't stop or are just out of control, never make a horse do more than a regular working canter on the lunge, it isn't safe on a number of levels. If they are cantering in a controlled manor and won't stop, just make them continue cantering---once they offer to break to a trot, make them canter again for a short period and then you ask them to trot...chances are they will trot then and this time you were the one calling the shots! If they are just totally out of control, do what you can to get them down to a controlled canter---drop your whip or bring it around so it's facing away from them and the tip is on the ground, tug gently/ fluidly on the lunge to encourage them to slow down and use your calm, deep, "whhooaaaa". The good news is that most horses will only have short outbursts of "out of control-ness" followed by a safe canter and I just let them get this out---there is no way around it, you just can't expect a horse with that much energy to behave on the lunge line unless you give him a way to get that energy out.

An alternative to getting that energy out on the lunge is to ride your horse first and then lunge them. Just be sure that you feel safe riding him at whatever energy level he is at! If none of the above things work to get your horse to whoa on the lunge line, a last ditch effort would be to ask someone to ride him while you lounge him to re-inforce the cues you are giving on the ground. Just ask the rider to communicate to the horse whatever you are verbally asking but to not give any cues without you first giving them on the ground. This is a little backwards but we are trying to get your horse to see that when on the lungeline, it's the person holding the lunge that he needs to look to for communication.
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post #3 of 12 Old 05-13-2013, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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GREAT info!!!! Thank you!

I have a round pen but also use a lunge line because of having a bit more control of their head. My mare is really BIG and really needs to learn to listen to commands. I will try the things you listed. Totally makes sense. And she tires easily so I can totally see that working, lol. I mean, how do you think I got her to where I can just walk up and catch her... hehehehe I kept chasing her until she begged to stop and now no problems.



Last edited by nvr2many; 05-13-2013 at 01:05 PM.
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-13-2013, 02:45 PM
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If your horse won't do what you have asked, you keep asking until he does. That's the fundamental. you ask , you tell, you demand, though. So, your "asking" becomes firmer.

However, if the horse is not understanding your request, you have to be a bit more patient. But the idea is still the same.

So, horse is going forward, you get it to slow down, using a falling tone of voice, a lowering of your body, an exhaling of the energy from your body, and if that doesn't work, a few tugs on the rope line. when horse slows, you stop all those signals and do nothing.

Same for stop. You ask for the halt with your voice ( I am not huge on verbal cues, so dont' know why you want to have lunging be based so much on verbal cues, but anyway . . .), you put a bit of a tug on the line, then if that doesnt work, you put some real tugs on the line, and if you have to, you step in front of the horse (not smack in front, of course). If horse stops , but just whirls around the other direction, you keep up your "asking" . you continue to apply the signals for stop, namely the tugs on the line. If he whirls again, you keep it up. You do not give the release until he makes the correct choice. If he stops facing the wrong direction, no matter. He stopped, you reward. Just keep in mind exactly what you are looking for and reward only that.

If you are asking for too much and the hrose cannot understand, then break it down into several smaller steps, and reward for each of those when the horse correctly chooses and does these. make it successful, but don't reward his wrong choices.
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-13-2013, 02:52 PM
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just going to put this out there but, lunging with the intent on developing verbal cues is helpful (I'm no expert but, I'd go as far as saying it's darn near mandatory) for driving. Just sayin' verbal cues aren't useless.
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life has no remote control hitch them up and drive them your self
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-13-2013, 02:56 PM
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That's a good point!
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-13-2013, 03:14 PM
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First off, I dislike round pens and would never want one. The reason is because lungeing does not just mean a horse going around in a circle. You can have the horse go straight in an arena which you cannot in a round pen.
I love for my horses to know voice commands. It is a part of their education in my book and, never does them any harm. It comes in handy with novice riders that the horse will obey an instructors voice command - especially "Whoa!'

A horse that is over keen and will not stop is difficult to halt in a round pen. WHat I do is to keep parallel to the horse's shoulder and run them into a fence. At the same time I am issuing the command "WHOA"
I always use a preparation for a horse in all vocal commands, Waaaaaalk ON, terrrrrrrrrrrrrr OT, caaaaaaaan TER with the stress on the last syllable.
Downwards it is a softer voice, with less stress on the last syllable. Woh hooo for halt.

I will try to get some shots of what I mean, I have a bit of speedy filly to bring back into work and she will be ideal to show what I mean.
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-13-2013, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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@ foxhunter, I am liking that walking them into a fence and saying whoa. Guess they cannot ignore that, lol. Now, I would NEVER do that when on them. Can be very bad.

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post #9 of 12 Old 05-13-2013, 05:25 PM
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round pens have their place. I think they are best for free lunging, and are very useful for first rides or where you don't want the horse to have a huge arena to get going real fast in, with you onboard.

I don't really ever lunge in the fashion that is most common , especially in Europe, with the long line and maybe side reins. I am not saying it's bad. IT isn't, but I just don't have a need for it. I had some lessons in how to lunge that way, and it's not nearly as easy as you'd think. Done well, it can be very helpful to the hrose. But, so very few people know how to lunge well. I think my own skill level there is pretty low, so I don't do it.

I only do the kind of "lunging" , if you can call it that, that is done on a much shorter line , with a rope line and a rope halter, and is mostly about getting the horse to walk/trot with a decent bend, to follow the feel of the rope and not lean on it, to be attentive to the handler's body language and to work on turns and disengagements and such. Not for getting ya-ya's out, nor for building topline as work in sidereins might be targetting.
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-13-2013, 05:46 PM
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What I have found works for teaching 'whoa' is to make 'whoa' a good thing, a reward. It's the favorite word for my horses. The concept is fairly simple, I'm 'letting' you stop, not asking you to stop. I present 2 options, you can either stop when I ask or you can run til you die. Make the right thing easy, and the wrong thing difficult. The first few times I will work them really hard, until they are slowing down and wanting to stop, then I push them a little further, and then I ask for it with my body language. If they stop, I approach and rub them for 5 or 10 minutes, no joke. The longer the better. Just scratching them, rubbing them, loving on them. They soon get the idea that stopping is a good thing, and they look forward to it. You move away: you run. You stand still: you rest. Black and white.
I don't know how other people do it, but this works for me. All the horses I have taught this with love to stop. ;)
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