Lunging : Horses always have a weak direction?

This is just me being curious, At the barn, I work at I lunge a lot of horses. Warmbloods, Quarterhorses, Thoroughbreds, Imports for our HunterJumper world, who in my opinion the horses know their stuff ( well educated). When I lunge said horses I’ve noticed that on one side they will be perfectly balanced and bending nicely on the circle and the other side their hindquarters will be totally leaning in to me on the inside of the lunge, almost if they are balanced only on the inside hind leg, and their hip is dropped. Is this because of muscling? Their rider not riding both directions correctly working their horse and balancing or is this with all horses? ( All of these horses have good conformation and no dropped hips or pelvis, nor are downhill. They are pretty balanced)

Horses have a dominant side just like we do.

Most horses have a dominant side, so they will be more confident on that side. I combat this by working 1/3 on the dominant side, and 2/3 on the non dominant side to encourage balance, musculature, suppleness. I usually switch directions during 30 minute sessions, every 5-8 mintues or less.

While all horses do have a stronger side, I do find it unusual that every horse in your barn would have such a large noticable discrepancy. Do they all go better the same direction? Could it be something you are doing with your body position or hands? I know one direction is more comfortable for me!


Yes , horses will be dominant on the left or right but what I am really asking is will a horse ever even out on both sides?

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For a horse to even out or be as close to “equal” between sides requires meticulous and thoughtful riding to combat the non favoured side. Riders naturally have a preferred direction which can exacerbate a horse’s directional inequity, or assist in evening it out.

Bad riding doesn’t make this problem (but can exacerbate it), and good riding generally can’t naturally fix this problem. It requires conscious planning in rides to address, because as mentioned above, you need to actively weight the focus of your rides to the weak side. Rather than “half one way half the other way” schooling something twice on the good side can be enough but may require twice as many repetitions (or more) on the challenging side. Likewise, the hard side can require scaffolding to build up to the movement in a way the good side does not need.

Deliberate, thoughtful riding with a good rider can do a lot to balance it out. But the natural tendency will always be there. (A body builder can have equal muscling on left and right sides but that doesn’t change the fact that the person will naturally favor one hand to grab things.)

eta: I think this also exhibits one of the natural weaknesses of lunging. Double lunging or long lining can be more precise with the introduction of an aid that represents an outside rein to assist in balance. No mechanism with a single line regardless of how you rig it up will ever really be able to replicate this. So a horse may be more balanced under saddle and equal in both directions but on a lunge line, the natural tendency for one sidedness can emerge.


That’s a hard one… If the horse is worked correctly, (proper frame, impulsion, engaged rear etc), and the rider takes into account, the discrepensies they themselves produce in the saddle and on the ground, I think you could get close to being balanced on both sides…

Due to the nature of how we work with them, and that fact that no rider/handler is 100% balanced/perfect for every single second they are riding/handling the horse, I would say no to them ever being completely even on both sides.

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It can also be difficult to fix while lunging unless you switch side, as mentioned. Sometimes unlocking some movement on one side will help the other side move better, have to switch back and forth, etc. I try to start on the weaker side, switch to easier side, and before the horse is too fatigued back to the weak side to finish.

All horses have a dominant side, which is related to the natural bend of the body, and some say related to how the foal lay in utero.

Some horses show this more than others. But it is absolutely standard with green horses.

A well schooled horse should have been given the work to overcome this asymmetry as much as possible. This includes lots of lateral work, for instance shoulder in at the walk where the horse bends one way and moves the other. Either in hand or under saddle. You need to work on this at the walk and then at the trot, and only later at the canter.

If all the horses you longe are dramatically asymmetrical, this suggests two things:

  1. In your program, horses are not getting the gymnastics they need to become more balanced.
  2. You are not able to influence them positively on the longe.

I have learned from my trainer how to gently get a green horse to bend to the inside on the longe, and how to get them started with moving their haunches laterally inhand. I am currently helping a bit with a green OTTB, and yesterday was working on getting her to bend to the inside at the trot with a longing cavesson, and also to move her hips a bit outwards so that she was going shoulder fore/ slight shoulder in on the longing circle.

She isn’t really ready to hold that balance at the canter on the longe circle.

And obviously to do this, you need to have a horse working politely on the longe. You can’t be using the longe as a place for horse to bomb and buck and bolt. They will also get off balance when they do that.

Why is this necessary? If you don’t move toward building more symmetry in the horse, you will have problems with lead changes later on, problems with balancing around corners at the canter, and problems with lateral work (which may not be that important to the hunter ring, but is important gymnastic work for young horses).

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I don’t really understand. If you are lunging often and correctly in side reins, then your lunging should have them working correctly and this should not happen in time.

If you are not lunging in side reins you are helping to create the problem.

Idk most horses I’ve had had a stronger side, after I had them for awhile it was small but usually still noticeable lunging but didn’t really feel it riding.

Further complicating matters - your dominant leg is usually the opposite of your dominant hand. I’m right-handed. When I go to break an opponant’s guard in Jiu jitsu I always step forward with my left foot first. I have a lot of trouble tracking right while riding. It’s way more conscious effort for me.