To Longe, Lunge or Lounge?

by Eleanor Blazer

The horse lunged on the longe line. He would have rather been lounging as his lungs were lumbering.

I got to thinking about the different spellings for longe. I gave Gord Wadds, author and instructor of the online course "Competitive Longe Line", a call to see if he could give me some insight.
Gord told me Americans spell it "longe" and in Great Britain it’s spelled "lunge". But either way is correct.

I thought it would be interesting to do more research. As most words come from Latin roots, I started there. The Latin words “longus” which means “elongate”, and “longa” meaning “long” turned up. This makes sense as when we longe a horse we are working him on a long line.

The French word “allongé” is another derivative. It means to draw out. “Allongé” is sometimes used to describe the long rein that is used to work a horse in dressage. It is also used to describe an extended trot or lope.

The British Horse Society Complete Manual of Horse and Stable Management uses “lunge”. The manual refers to the “lunging rein” as not less than 10 meters in length (33 feet).  They recommend the rein be attached to a lunging cavesson and not the standard headcollar (halter). The cavesson has a padded nose piece and rings for attaching the rein.  

Our online students who live in New Zealand and Australia refer to the longe line as a “lunge rein”. This is a reflection of both countries strong English influence.

Despite how you choose to spell it, longing needs to be done properly. Allowing a horse to lunge (as in a quick forward bolting movement) is dangerous and counter-productive to training sessions. When a horse ignores the handler on the ground, this disrespect will be apparent during riding.  Longing should be used to teach a horse balance and how to respond to cues.  

Mindlessly running circles, pulling the handler across the arena, moving with the head toward the outside, counter arcing the body, hollowing out the back and ignoring commands are common mistakes during longing. These mistakes lead to a disrespectful horse.

Using longing to exercise a horse is common. Care has to be taken the horse is not worked excessively. Tight turns are hard on joints. A young horse should never be worked on the longe line as a form of exercise – turn out is best.  

Many trainers use longing to teach young horses cues, balance, how to carry a saddle and introduce them to a training routine. These sessions are short and not physically challenging.

Many horse shows offer longe line classes for yearlings and two-year olds. These classes introduce the youngster to the world of showing and prepare them for a career as a show horse.

So when it’s time to get that lounging yearling out from under the shade tree and headed to school check out “Competitive Longe Line” by World Champion trainer Gord Wadds.


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