Long lining, or long reining, is commonly used in the early stages of training a horse. It offers more flexibility than lunging, as you have greater control and are not so limited in the movements you make.
As with lunging and other ground training methods, long lining enables you to teach your horse to respond correctly to your voice aids and body language. It also allows you to introduce new movements without the horse having to cope with the additional strain of carrying a rider.
Safety is important when long lining. Therefore it is essential for the handler to wear a riding hat, riding gloves and sturdy boots. Other ways to stay safe include always long reining in an enclosed area, seeking professional help and slowly introducing any new movements.
As always, practice makes perfect. When you are first starting to long line, it is of paramount importance that you have a helper, preferably experiencing in long reining, on hand and, if possible, a horse that is accustomed to long lining.
To start with, attach the ‘reins’ (usually lunge lines) on either side of the horse’s head. This can be done to the bit rings of a bridle or to a lunge cavesson. Then pass the reins through the stirrups (which will need to be tied down, to stop them flapping and potentially scaring the horse) if you’re using a saddle, or through the rings on a lunging roller. Introduce these reins slowly as it will take time for the horse to grow used to the feeling of having these reins on his side.
Your positioning is key; you need to stand approximately eight feet behind the horse, and slightly to one side. This puts you out of the reach of any danger from the horse’s rear hooves whilst being close enough to be in control of the horse.
Holding the reins can be tricky, and will require your best ‘multi-tasking’ skills! As with lunging, the lines need to be looped, and sit on the top of your hand. This prevents them from tightening around your hand and enables you to quickly and easily lengthen and shorten the reins.
With a gentle contact, hold the lines at an even length. Using your voice aids or gently tap the lines against the horse’s side ask him to move forwards, whilst reducing the rein contact to enable him to do so. Initially ask your helper to walk with the horse, at his head to guide him. Praise the horse as soon as he walks forward; this will teach him the correct response to these aids. It is best to do this along the side of an arena to start with, as this gives the horse a straight line to follow.
Once you are comfortable with this movement, you can move onto making changes in direction. To do this, as with riding you will need to use the rein in the direction in which you want to turn, whilst loosening the opposite rein to allow the horse to bend. You will also need to stand on the side of the horse in which direction you want to turn.
As well as being able to work your horse in a straight line, long reining can also be done on a circle, similar to lunging. When you are working in a circle, the outside rein will pass around your horse’s hindquarters, encouraging greater activity in this area. However, it can take time for the horse to become accustomed to this, and it is important to ensure that this line does not drop below hock level, as this can result in the horse becoming tangled in the line.
As you and your horse become more familiar with long reining, a whole world of new opportunities will open up to you! All the www.equestrianclearance.com and horse equipment you need for long lining is available at great prices from www.EquestrianClearance.com.
Stay tuned for a synopsis of my awesome lesson from yesterday!:)