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Teaching Longe and Long-Line With Riding a Horse

Longeing (pronounced lunging), sometimes spelled lunging, starts when a horse trainer is sure that the horse is fit and old enough to begin extensive training.

It is more than simply letting your horse trot around at the end of a 30 foot lead. Longeing and long-lining are safe, efficient ways to teach a horse how to react to being ridden. When ground training your horse, you will be able to teach it to listen to you, stop and wait patiently, and practice transitioning between different gaits. It will also learn to respond to different voice commands, most importantly, “Whoa.” The trainer will use longeing to teach the horse direction, posture, and how to yield.
This technique is used to teach horses from a greater, and therefore safer, distance than the standard lead rope. This is especially important and useful when dealing with inexperienced, stubborn, or frightened horses. Longeing should be part of a balanced training and exercise program for all horses, regardless of breed or use.

There are many reasons to longe. It helps to promote confidence and familiarity with the trainer, teaches obedience to verbal commands and allows the horse to learn and respond to the trainer’s body language, it allows the horse to learn rhythm and gait extension without the interference of a rider. It is also a good warm-up or cool-down exercise, is good for rehabilitation of an previously injured or sick horse, and helps strengthen the horse’s back, loin, tendons, and ligaments.

Owners are recommended to wait until a horse is at least two years of age before beginning regular longe training. A yearling can benefit from a few lessons to teach him to stop on command. However, make sure you only walk or trot the young horse. This will avoid putting stress on its limbs before they are ready.

There are some good tips to keep in mind before starting longe training.

• Make sure the horse’s footing is not slippery. About four to six inches of footing is ideal.
• If the horse is younger than two, only walk or trot it.
• Two year old horses should not canter for long periods of time.
• If longeing is overused, the horse will become bored and this training method will become counterproductive
• While there are 25 foot longe lines available, 30 to 35 foot lines are optimal.
• Working small circles with a 25 foot line can damage your horse’s limbs.

Horses have excellent memories. Therefore, it is vital that longe training is done correctly. The horse will remember everything it learns, good or bad. An experienced longe trainer will build on the lessons of the previous longeing session, while any mistakes must be “unlearned” before the horse can learn the correct response and progress with its training.
Once your horse is familiar with longeing, it can be trained further by double longeing. Training the horse with two lines is also called long lining or long reining.

Purchasing a quality longe line will save money and inconvenience in the long run. Polypropylene longe lines are soft, flexible, easy to grip, unlikely to produce rope burn, and have ultraviolet protection to prevent fading and sun damage. They come in many different colors that can match your horse’s existing accessories. Polypropylene is water resistant and will not rot or mildew. Solid brass swivel snaps are ideal to prevent damage from rust. A quality longe line generally costs between $35 to $50 from your local tack store or catalog.

Read the next horse training article on Training horse for longer sliding stops.
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For cutting and reining horse events, you definitely need a saddle that’s designed to help you "ride in balance and sit the stop." First, you want a saddle that was designed and built specifically for reining or cutting. Both of these designs have their individual advantages but remember, just because the manufacturer "calls" it a reining saddle doesn’t mean it was designed "well" for reining.

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