• If you are having problems logging in please use the Contact Us in the lower right hand corner of the forum page for assistance.

You Train your way - I've done it my way

Help Support Ranchers.net:


Well-known member
May 24, 2005
Reaction score
The Dam End of Silicon Valley


Is a long and good article but there are places I have trouble with it, so I’ll ad my thoughts as we go along.

LUNGING THE HORSE "BY" John O'Leary "Horseman" © 1999

Lot's of horse owners lunge really well. The horse trains them that way.
Just watch them where ever you go. The horse runs around at the end of the stiff lunge rein whilst the owner runs around a smaller circle but lunges just as well. The whole time fighting against the pull of the horse. Well I suppose it is good for their health at least. Seriously though, it is your choice how your horses is trained to lunge so here are a few basic rules to go by. Here is a recent 'Tip of the Week' that I sent out to my mailing list:
"The lunging process is the time when the young, green or newly owned horses examine, probe, test and label us as the owner. Their decision will then directly impact upon their behavior, ridden and ground, going forward. Ignore lunging rules at your peril and have your horse assess you as a 'Bunny', for you are making a 'Rod for your own back' in the future"

. Lunging endlessly to control behavior of a horse is a complete waste of time and all you achieve is a much fitter horse that has more energy to misbehave in the future.

. I agree with this in princeable.

. Lunging to exhaust horses before show competition is idiotic and cruel. It is a scam that 'hackies pull here in Australia and I have heard of people lunging horses an entire night to quieten them for the next days comp.?

. I agree

. If you do lunge, gain some benefit out of it by having the horse wear your chosen equipment to ensure it works 'Round' somewhat. Improve muscle tone as well as exercise the horse.

. Can’t hurt?

, If you lunge in a round yard, there is no point using a rope or a lunge rein. Train your horse to stop or turn via the use of your voice and body language.

. I disagree - - a lunge line can be a good training device and has it’s time and place – as a training device you can easily teach a horse to Stop, Face You [No Butt], Go Left [Go By], Go Right [Way To], Voice Commands, in less than ½ the time. Then Show Off!

. If you do use a rein or rope, never use a webbing halter. These train horses to lean and pull on the handler. A rope halter gains much more respect and will assist you to keep the horse light.

. I agree in part – I beleave in the right equipment – the Ol timer that taught me had a piece of ¼ round stock bent in the shape of a “bosal” made with a headstall. You can buy something like it in a saddle shop call a Lunging Headstall.

. Lunging Caveson also will heavy a horse up in the head department as well as give you little control should something go wrong should you be out in the open.?

. If you use a rein, never let the horse go around leaning on it. This teaches resistance and causes the handler to be fighting with the horse. Check release to maintain the desired circle for your horse. Of course, if it is in a Round Yard, the wall should be the direction and position of travel.?

. From the point of view of ruining the lightness of a horse, the lunging rein does just that as it is like a large elastic band. No bump can travel down it to the head of the horse should they get ignorant.

. I’m assuming we are training a green horse. A round Pen does not allow any of this if you’ll just let the fence work for ya - - Being from the old school I believe a round pen fence should lean out by 40% +/-. This teaches the horse to stay ‘Off The Fence’ [because the horses feet hit the bottom of the fence but at eye level the horse is about 1’ off the rail] and gives you Leg Room when your riding the horse.

. Do not let a horse cut corners whilst lunging. This is a try on and disrespectful to you. They will regularly cut the corner which is furtherest from the gate. Don't allow it and flick them in the shoulder with the whip should they try. They must be more respectful of staying out of your space than the desire to be out of the yard and to the gate. Flick them in the shoulder every time they come around to cut the corner and send them out to the track where they were sent.

. Keeping a strict and constant rules regime when in the Round Pen is highly important. Horses are assessing you all the while. If you don't Police the rules to the enth degree, they will judge you as weak and try to exploit you more in the future. In more ways than you can imagine and yes, right up to riding. Even bucking you off. I meet them all the time. Two during the last week. Complete ridden careers that have come to an end due to a lack of lunging regime and by playing stable games.?

. You should never have to move from your pivot point when lunging. If you are having to walk around, your horse doesn't lunge well enough.?

. I believe that the only reasons for lunging are to exercise a stabled horse, to prepare a girthy horse that may buck and then only briefly or to work a competition horse when you haven't time to ride. To maintain muscle or fitness levels.?

. Never let a horse change direction whilst lunging, without permission. This is an evasion, it is ignorant and the horse being the boss. A major No, NO. If one does it to you, immediately leap to the front of the horse and flick it in the shoulder to send it back the way it was going. Some do it to be smarties, others do it because it is not their chosen way of going, others because of a one sided body muscle development problem. It matters not, other than a Veterinary investigation perhaps, what their reason. They should not be allowed to get away with it. I have seen horses use that as a way to basically get out of lunging and to completely run amok.

. I call ‘sided body muscle development problem’ lack of coronation – Left or Right Leads – a horse needs to develop this.

. If the horse has a chosen way of going, “LEAD” and a lot do, lunge them twice as much in the opposite direction than their preference, to fix the problem. That way, it will be a better ridden horse.?

. I see and hear of a lot of instances of horses charging their owner whilst lunging, cutting a corner and side kicking at the owner or just doing a threatening pass by at close quarters with the ears flat back. These horses are all out of control, have no respect and have elected themselves as No. 1 with you being No. 2. They do not like you because they do not respect you because you are weak. At the risk of being blunt, such horses should be simply attacked back by the handler and basically hit anywhere there is hair and with complete gusto. (strength and commitment) They must be shocked out of their attitude and instantly. It takes 5 seconds only and works every time.

There are DANGERS to the Horse amd You in my fixs for this so I'll edite them out.

Just change Your and Their attitude in the future as you have been told by the horse that you lack strength of character basically. Horses “ANIMALS” love assertive "Strong" people, they hate “DESRESPECT” weak people. These horses are the ones that will buck you off and you have caused your own disaster, in the lunge ring.

If a horse is asked to change direction and it does so by turning towards the fence and giving me it's bum in my face, I see that as ignorance and I will not allow that on any horse that I work with. It shows disrespect and after all, we are trying to get respect in our training, surely. To fix this you can go through the following exercise.

In Training - - This is why I use a round pen/lung line/lunging headstall - - a horse is never allowed to turn it butt to me. A quick snap to a Lunging Headstall through the lung line make the horse ” Face Ya” turn to you.

[ Horses are smarted than most people give credit for - - Most horses will learn to take oral commands – Whoo / Go-by / Way to]

My Reasoning on [Go-by / Way to]:
With Dogs I was always getting mixed-up - - I was at 12:00 O’clock and my dog at 6:00 O’clock and the livestock in the center. I’d want the dog to move to his left but that was my right- command???

I find that it’s easier to say “GO-By” for go clock-wise or “Way-To” for go counter-clock-wise - - it always works "For ME".

End of part one


Well-known member
May 24, 2005
Reaction score
The Dam End of Silicon Valley
Lunging Part #2

1. If a horse is asked to change direction and it does so by turning towards the fence and giving me it's bum in my face, I see that as ignorance or disrespect and I will not allow that on any horse that I work with. It shows disrespect and after all, we are trying to get respect in our training, surely. To fix this you can go through the following exercise.

When lunging a horse that is running free in a round yard, don't you just hate it when the horse turns to go the other way, that it turns to the outside with it's back end in your face?
Most Trainers' see this as ignorance and a lack of respect and I do as well. I feel that it says a lot about the training, attitude, respect and willingness of a horse. I get such horses here on almost the daily basis and have experimented with a number of systems to fix them. NH systems, 'Join Up' and even a system that is popular in the Northern parts of Australia, that of using a stock whip to flick the back legs every time they are pointing in your direction, until such time as the horse gets the message and always faces up.

. A lung Line and the proper equipment will not allow this to take place - - “Stop it Before It Happens”

In the end, I designed my own system. You will need to concentrate on the subtleties of your position by degrees and your timing. Like any good training behavior.

• Stand in the middle of the round yard and send the horse off. Doesn't matter what gait or speed. You will normally find that such horses choose their own anyway.

• Step across about one giant step (meter) towards the front end of the horse and ask for the horse to turn back the other way. Have a lunge whip in your hand.

• The horse will turn with it's rear end in your face.

• Immediately take a giant step towards the other side of the yard. Towards the front end of the horse and in so doing, smack your lunge whip down on the ground. The horse will spin back the other way.

• Don't worry about upsetting the little darling, a bit of explosion in the roll backs is good. You will be quite impressed on just how good your horse can do a roll back.

• Immediately take a giant leap across the other way and repeat, repeat, repeat. Set up a rhythm. The horse should not move out of an area measuring about 3 meters max.

• The direction of your sideways leap and the sideways whip is creating an imaginary dividing line across the yard.

• Each time the horse turns around, flick it in the bum.

• After a dozen or so turns back, you will see the horse showing the whites of it's eyes as it strains to look at you over it's shoulder and to work out what the hell you are doing.

• The horse must not escape and do a lap of the yard. A real no, no.

• Now get ready, suddenly, you will see a slight hesitation and sign that the horse is looking for another option. A realization that there must be a better way, that it is getting tired with all the new found athletics.

• THE MOMENT the horse does this, you must step directly back away from the horse and remove yourself momentarily from it's space. You must also let your body energy down and mellow.

• The horse will stop. Either side on or facing you. If it goes to face you, withdraw another step or to and draw the horse towards you slightly. This will allow the horse the confidence to enter your space and to turn and face you.

• If it didn't, ask it on again and repeat, repeat. It will get the message. That depends only upon you and your ability to see it happen.

• If the horse has faced you, just slowly and quietly step around to one side a little, in an arc away from the horse as you move and softly, softly ask the horse to lunge on again, in the new direction.

• If it completes the turn inwards, let it go a couple of full circles of the yard as a 'Reward & Relief" for doing the right thing. Then stop it, rest for a while and pat it. You may also talk nicely to it.

• There you are, another 4 types of 'Reward & Relief" That made 5.
Well now that you wasted hours and found out that your horses reaction time is faster than yours - - Get out you lung line and equipment.

Leave the round yard and give the horse the 6th reward. Having beet you.
So, what were the building blocks that made that system work?
• 'Advance & Retreat'
• Making the bad thing hard and the good thing easy.
• Exhaustion
• Position
• Timing
• Feel
• Consistency
• 'Reward & Relief'

All of this can be taught Easier, Faster and Keeping the Horse Quieter with Less Stress using the proper Lunging Equipment
This system works on every horse and inside 5 minutes. (Depending upon the goose in the middle of course.
I guess that me “Quack-Quack”

How many different types of 'Reward' was there?

All sorts of equipment that fits the artificial aid category is available for lunging horses. These include:
• Side Reins
• Running Reins
• Draw Reins
• Double reins
• Long Reins
• Pessoa
• Chambon
and the list goes on. You choose your own weapon. I do agree that it is better to have a lunged horse work in some sort of a correct frame rather than just waltzing around with its head in the air.


If a horse has not worn and any of the things listed above, be majorly aware of the acute dangers confronting you and the horse the first time you do install anything. All of these training aids should be fitted loosely with the rule of thumb being that the normal head height of the horse is not restricted at all and that you only adjust up hole by hole as you see the horse giving in subtle ways to the restriction. Forget Side Reins as they are not worth the risk and the benefits to such horses are not worth bothering. Go here and read this:


I find the running reins to be the best, safest and most effective. I also find them to be far less restrictive and allow horses to find their own head or neck carriage and to flex left or right as well as being able to find reward and relief the easiest.

If you are a leaner, forget anything that has the horse wrapped up in ropes and knots and particularly forget anything that goes around the rump of the horse. All too hard and all too risky. I have seen some terrible accidents with this equipment.


Well-known member
Feb 10, 2005
Reaction score
NE Oregon

I am going to have to find some time to read this, I am just browsing...Thanks for taking the time to share this, It looks pretty informative..I did read the first one where you said usa a line and spend 1/2 the time in a roundpen...Most guys I know that use a Poundpen have the goal of getting out of there pretty quickly with a horse and onto other things...Kinda goes with getting away from "Drilling" and onto a place where the horse can enjoy more. It is funny, if a horse is enjoying it, he comes to meet you each day like, "I wonder what he's gonns try today, LOL....



Well-known member
May 24, 2005
Reaction score
The Dam End of Silicon Valley
I had/have a friend - the last I heard of him he was Manageing/Working for a Ranch up around Dayville - his Dad was one heck of a cowman named Ray Burnette (sp) - his son, my friend is Clayton.

There's also a Stock Dog Judge in that country by the name of Roy Sage.
He run off and Married one of my girlfriends :)

If you ever meet them say HI for me!

Latest posts