Tack n' Talk

Online Equestrian Resource

Does your horse turn and face you when on the lunge line?

Written By:  Larissa W. Cox, M.Sc. Applied Equine Science

Turning and facing in, or walking in towards you while on the lunge is a common problem for horses. There are several ways to help correct this problem, and in a short time, your horse should be moving forward on the circle well!

Before you start, make sure you are using the correct equipment.  Make sure to use a long lunge line, so you can adjust the size of the circle.  I like to use a 30′ cotton lunge line.

It’s also good practice to use a lunging cavesson or a bridle while lunging, and attach the lunge line to either the middle ring of the cavesson, or both sides of the bit.  I also like to use a lunging surcingle to attach side reins or something that works the horse head-to-tail, like the Equi-Ami or Pessoa Lunging System.  Finally, carry a lunging whip, that can be used as an extension of your arm, to drive the horse forward.


Pessoa Lunging System

When you start lunging, it’s important to habituate the horse to your final position on the lunging circle, which should be around the girth. If your horse has a habit of facing in towards you, always begin by walking the horse in hand, with you by his shoulder.  Slowly start letting out the lunge line, while encouraging the horse to move forward with the whip.  This is a very good way to begin, because if the horse tries to stop and turn in, you are in a position to keep walking beside the horse, mirroring desired etiquette and the direction of travel.  Keep lengthened the lunge line until you are in the centre of the circle.  Keep the whip pointing at the hip of the horse to encourage him to move forward.


The red dot is your position, purple is the lunge line, green whip pointing to hip

If the horse stops and turns towards you during the lunging session, take up the slack in the line, and start the process again, where you walk beside the horse and slowly let the line out.

It’s very important that you do not try whipping the horse around his head in an effort to get him to turn back on the circle.  This is a very sensitive area for the horse and not only can spook the horse, but also send contradictory signals, leading to a confused and upset horse that hates being lunged.

Instead, be patient and consistent in your training with this walking forward technique.  Remember to respond quickly, and not to stop and pat the horse – immediately walk forward on the circle, then slowly let the line out.

Finally, when ending the lunging session, end the way you began. Slowly start taking the slack up in the lunge line, to the point where you are walking beside the horse, then stop walking and bring your horse to a halt.  This way, you are never encouraging the horse to stop and face you at any point during the lunging session, keeping the horse moving forward along the direction of travel.

Good luck and happy lunging!


  buzhall wrote @

Thank you! I will try that tommorow

  CowgirlPride wrote @

Larissa, I dont know why I can get one horse to lunge but I cant get the other horse to lunge. Maybe somebody already trained him on that. I already have a cotton lunge line and I will be redoing it with your instructions. This is some good material !

  buzhall wrote @

ive got mine lunging now,it took three days and several hours,me and dude are alot closer now! Thanks for the help

  e3w7yg wrote @

This method is exactly what my instructor taught me. It worked really well. On the shortened longe line, with the waving of the whip keeping him moving forward, he was too busy concentrating on working well, to think about stopping and facing me. With the gradual lengthening of the line, widening of circle, if he thought about facing me I reeled in some line. (Oops, now he had to get down to business again).
With the second lengthening of the line he kept on with business. Never had any more problems with that. As with buzhall, Hap and I became much closer.

  Patty Smith wrote @

I am a new horse owner and I have been told to work with my mare on a lunge line. I have been trying but she does want to face me and walk into me. Your advice just let me know what I was doing right and what I needed to inmprove on. Thank you.

  Briana hoskins wrote @

My mare usually lunges great. But this week I went out to lunge her and I haven’t changed a thing, anyways, this week she started doing a half circle and then turns in and backs up until finally I walk in and get her. What can I do?

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