Anyone who has worked with horses for a significant amount of time is aware of the importance of lungeing. Whether in-hand or on lunging equipment, lunging provides specific conditioning to hindquarters that cannot be achieved with regular riding activities or round pen schooling. Teach a horse to lunge without a round pen with these tips and suggestions.
Lunging is one of the first ground activities most horse owners learn. It’s also one of the most popular, since anyone can lunge a horse from the side of a paddock, no fancy equipment needed. However, the practice does have limitations and disadvantages. In this article we’ll cover some reasons you might want to consider teaching a horse to lunge in a round pen instead of from the side.
Teaching a horse to lunge without a round pen is not difficult, but it does require some patience and careful planning. The first step is to prepare the lunge line. This can be as basic as tying one end of a rope to a post and the other end to a stable rail or fence post. The length of the rope should be adjusted so that when it is attached to the rail or post, it will allow your horse plenty of room to move around while remaining safe and contained.
Next, you’ll want to set up some sort of obstacle course for your horse to maneuver through while lunging. If possible, this should include jumps and poles at least 2 feet high so that they are challenging but not too difficult for your horse. You may want to use these same obstacles in future lessons so that your horse becomes familiar with what’s expected of him both on and off his lead rope.
Once you’ve got the equipment set up, it’s time for some training! First introduce yourself to your horse and let him sniff your hands before gently rubbing his nose with yours—this will help establish trust between you two from day one. Next step is basic commands: “walk,” “trot,” “canter,” “stop,” etcetera (see
Teaching a horse to lunge without a round pen is one of the most important parts of training. The round pen is a great tool, but it’s not always available, and you might have an injured horse that needs to be worked on.
There are two ways to teach your horse to lunge without a round pen:
1) Use a long line and drag it behind you as you walk around the outside perimeter of your property.
2) Find a piece of equipment with which you can make noise—such as an old car battery—and attach it to the end of your long line so that when the horse bumps into it with its nose, it will make a loud noise.
Teaching A Horse To Lunge Without A Round Pen
Round pen can make your life easier and the training process faster. However, you can still be lunging without a round pen. All you need is a lunging line or a long lead rope.
While lunging in an open space your horse has more opportunities to avoid doing what you are asking, so it will be more difficult to get him to listen to you in case he doesn’t want to listen.
However, you can definitely handle it without any significant issues if you take the right approach and don’t try to progress too quickly. Just take it one small step at a time.
First steps towards lunging without a round pen
The very first thing you should practice is getting your horse to back up in front of you.
Then practice getting him to follow you on a lose lead rope.
Your horse should be walking approximately 0.5 to 1m behind you without trying to walk in front of you. He should stop when you stop and should start walking when you start walking. He should be watching you at all times. If he starts walking next to you, or even in front of you, immediately back him up. Ideally within 2 seconds.
Lunging your horse for the first time
As soon as my horse can do the two things I have just mentioned I can move on and ask him to go around me on a small circle. Your horse should be walking on a circle approximately 2m away from you.
It is important to keep your horse closer rather than further. The closer your horse is, the more likely he is to listen to you. When you keep your horse close, it is going to be easier for him to understand what you want and it is also going to be easier for you to correct him.
If you start by lunging him on a big circle when he is too far away from you, he is much more likely to avoid doing what you want and pick up bad habits.
When you lunge your horse for the first time on a small circle, practice getting him going in both directions.
If your horse has issues with going on a small circle, you can make the circle bigger by staying close to him and walking with him on a bigger circle. You should always be around 2 meters away from your horse.
Whether you stand still and get your horse to go on a small circle or whether you chose to do a bigger circle and walk around with your horse is up to you.
How to correct your horse?
Lunging without a round pen makes it a bit more difficult to correct your horse, but it is nothing to be afraid of.
If your horse tries to speed up to trot, just pull your lunge line, or your lead rope, to ask him to make the circle smaller.
Making the circle smaller makes it difficult for him to go faster.
As soon as your horse slows down, release the lead rope and let him get back on the bigger circle.
Asking for trot for the first time
When you are already able to get your horse to walk around you in both directions, try to ask him to speed up to trot.
After your horse trots nicely and can trot to both directions, you can start making the circle bigger. You can slowly and gradually let your horse get further away from you on a bigger circle.
What to do when your horse pulls on the rope?
I want my horse to trot on a circle and I want him to be on a loose lead rope, I do not want him to be trying to pull on it. Every time your horse pulls on the lead rope or the lunge line, correct him by pulling and then releasing the rope. Repeat that until your horse stops pulling on it and goes around on a lose rope.
What to do when he makes the circle smaller?
If my horse doesn’t pull on the rope but instead he makes the circle too small, I correct him using my whip or the end of my lead rope. I always swing my lead rope or a whip while correcting my horse in the area behind his front legs, approximately where the cinch strap would be if he had a saddle on.
Pay attention to where you are standing
It is also important to remember where you started with the lunging. You want to stay in the same spot the whole time.
Do not let your horse to slowly drift back towards the stable for example. Some horses are going to be making the circle smaller on one side and bigger on the other side to slowly move towards home.
Lunging without a round pen in canter for the first time!
Over time, as you progress, make the circle bigger and bigger. In the end, the circle should be around 16 meters in diameter.
Up until now, you are not very likely to have many issues.
Getting your horse to canter is going to be more difficult. Young horses especially are not likely to last very long when you ask them to canter for the first time. Canter is much more demanding than trot.
If your horse does just half a circle in canter the first time you ask for it, it is enough. Next time you ask for canter however, you should always ask him for a bit more.
Do not forget to correct your horse if he makes the circle smaller or tries to pull on the rope in canter. You should correct him the same way you did in trot.
As soon as your horse can already canter on both sides and do at least two to three full circles, the hardest part is over. You are now lunging without a round pen