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While lunging is often used as a tool to release the energy of young or fresh horses before riding, it is actually a valuable training aid and, with the right knowledge and expertise, an art form that allows for greater levels of communication to develop between horse and rider. 

In its most basic form, lunging involves working a horse on a circle at the end of a lunge line.

The benefits for the horse include: improved cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, and endurance; greater suppleness and flexibility throughout the horse's body; muscle building to develop stronger hindquarters, toplines, and abdominal muscles; and the ability to move without rider interference and weight.

Image by Hunter13071988 from Pixabay

The benefits for the rider include: valuable insights into the horse's way of going, its balance, and any asymmetries or irregularities in the gaits; developing timing and feel; and building confidence and trust.

While lunging might seem like an easy solution if you don't want to ride, it’s still a skill that requires a level of training and understanding to ensure the safety of both horse and rider.

Ideally, horses should only be lunged for between 20 and 30 minutes as continuous and repetitive movements on a circle can place stress on the horse's joints, tendons, and ligaments.

To learn more, both the British Horse Society ( and the United States Equestrian Federation ( have educational sections on their websites that cover lunging principles, techniques, and guidelines.

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