Last Updated on March 24, 2022 by Allison Price
Long-reining can effectively teach young horses from the ground using long-reining. Long-reining is a great option for all horses, regardless of their stage of training. This form of groundwork can be part of any horse’s regular training program.
This article will give you a detailed guide to long-reining.
What is long-reining and how does it work?
Long-reining takes place from the ground. The handler stands behind the horse and holds a line of lunge in each hand, just like a set or reins.
Long-reining can theoretically be compared to riding from the ground.
To make the exercise work, you need to have a certain level of feeling, correct contact and the right body position. We recommend you practice your techniques on an experienced horse first before you try them on a youngster.
Long-reining, which is the next step after lunging the horse, is usually used before ridden work starts. By the time someone touches the horse’s back they will have a good grasp of basic aids including the voice. To correct any problems that might arise when a horse is older, long-reining may also be useful.
Long-reining your horse can be started when he is confident and willing to follow your commands.
What are the advantages of long-reining?
Horse and rider both enjoy the many benefits of long-reining.
Long-reining horses have many advantages:
- Young horses are introduced to the feeling of a bit or a rein contact.
- Teach the basics of starting, stopping and changing directions.
- Teaches horse school figures such as circles and loops.
- Variety in horse’s work routine
- Enhances rhythm and balance, as well as straightness
- Can be used to do exercise after an injury or illness has been treated
- Strengthens the horse’s top-line
- It can be used to de-sensitize scared horses to unfamiliar sights or sounds
Riders also have many benefits from long-reining:
- This helps to create a bond between horse and rider
- Can increase riders’ confidence
- Increases awareness and coordination of the rider’s body.
- Improves vocal commands
- This allows you to see your horse’s movements and go.
Always get someone who is confident and experienced to assist you when you start long-reining your horse. When working with horses from the ground, it is important to not get too close, especially if your horse seems confused or upset.
What equipment are you looking for?
Before you can begin, you will need to assemble these items:
- Remove the reins and snaffle bridle
- A saddle or roller with the stirrups downed and secured with a strap under the horse’s girth.
- Two lunges or long-reining lines equal in length
- Brushing boots and boots with overreach
- Both the helper and the handler should wear a hard hat and sturdy shoes. Gloves are also recommended.
While some people prefer to use a lunge whip or long schooling whip for long-reining purposes, we suggest that you do not when you start. You will likely have enough to do when you start long-reining your horse. A whip can also cause injury to your horse if it is accidentally thrown or flicked.
You’ll first need to organize your horse and accept two lunge reins. Your assistant should hold your horse while the lunge line is attached to the nearside bit rings. Attach the other lunge string to the offside bit rings and thread it through the offside stirrup, or through a loop in your roller.
Place the second lunge line on the horse’s side, so it runs alongside the hind leg and behind the roller or saddle. Horses can become upset if they feel the lunge rein being pulled on their side. Your helper can calmly reassure your horse if your horse becomes anxious by the pressure of the lunge rein. Continue this process until your horse accepts the lunge rein and relaxes.
Place your left hand on the horse’s side and extend the second lunge over the horse’s croup. Now ask the horse to move forward and let the rein drop behind him.
Begin with a session lasting around ten minutes. Gradually increase the time until they reach half an hour.
Where should you stand?
Long-reining must be successful and effective if you are to learn how to stand in the right position.
Keep your distance from the horse so that he doesn’t kick you. Your elbows should be slightly bent and your elbows should be relaxed when you hold the lunge lines. Make sure that you don’t have any excess lengths of the lunge lines so they don’t get in the way and cause you to trip. Stand straight as if in a saddle and keep your shoulders back.
Walking on and stopping
You can ask your horse to move forward by gently tapping his sides with the reins and using your voice to say “walk on”.
Ask the horse to stop. After releasing the pressure, wait for the horse to start walking again.
You can set two parallel ground poles at the “tramlines” of your horse if they tend to wander in a straight line.
As a way to teach the horse how to stop straight, practice halting between the poles.
Change the rein
You can now teach your horse how to change the reins across the school.
Move slightly towards the horse’s side. To ask for a change in direction, place the inside rein on the horse’s hindquarter.
To maintain the horse’s straightness, rhythm, and pace as he turns, keep the outside rein in constant contact.
Step across once the horse has changed the rein. Move to the outside of him as he turns.
Loops, serpentines, circles
Once both you and your horse are comfortable with turning, you can begin to move him around the arena asking for circles and loops and serpentines.
Although the principle of turning is still the same, you will need to be aware of your position and adjust accordingly.
You can also challenge your horse to set up cone lines and weave in and out of them.
Work that is not gratifying
Long-reining is a method that helps to desensitize horses to unfamiliar sounds and sights in preparation for competing in shows far away.
You will need to set up a variety of hazards in the arena. These include dressage letters and buckets of flowers, umbrellas in cones or balloons tied to fences. Tarps on ground are all examples of hazards. Practice long-reining your horse in the arena around the hazards.
To give your horse more confidence, you might ask your assistant to first walk beside him at his side. Also, remember to only introduce one “hazard” at the time.
Trot and canter
You can trot or canter the horse on a circle. You are basically lunging with two lines. The outside line should be kept around the horse’s back to prevent him from falling out. It also helps you engage his hindquarters by keeping the circle straighter.
Stand parallel to your horse and face his girth. To avoid upsetting or frightening your horse, twirl the horse around in a circle. Keep the contact the same as when you were walking behind your horse.
You can now use your lunge whip to encourage your horse to trot or canter using your other lunging aids.
Polework and cavaletti
While longreining your horse, you can also use cavaletti and poles.
You will drive the horse along a series of poles on ground at the walk, while you walk behind him. Next, introduce raised poles or cavaletti to the trot or canter.
Finalizing the session
After you have finished your long-reining sessions, slowly and gently bring the right rein across the horse’s back. Then move to his left side. Keep your horse’s head straight. Then, you can remove the lunge lines and draw them through stirrups.
Horses that have been long-reined outside the arena are a great way to get him used to hacking and build his confidence.
Long-reining your horse can be done in a variety of ways, including through your fields or along quiet roads.
Ask your assistant to accompany your horse while you “hack” the horse to increase confidence.
Long-reining can lead to some problems. Here are some ways to address them.
Moving forward is not possible
To mimic your leg aids, if your horse is unable to move forward, you can flick the lunge lines towards his sides.
Encourage your horse to go forward using your voice and lots of transitions to keep him focused.
To help your horse if he is still wriggling, you can use a long whip and tap it against your foot to support your other aids.
Too much energy!
If your horse is running amok and you are having a problem with the opposite, you can slow down and regulate your pace.
You should make many transitions backward to halt and include lots of changes in rein. Soften the rein through every turn, just as if you were riding in the saddle.
You won’t win if you pull back on the reins. Instead, use your weight to “ride” a half stop using the outside rein.
If the horse attempts to trot or take flight with you, be prepared to get him onto a small circle. Use the corners of your arena to brake if necessary.
Long-reining, which is often neglected as a training tool for older horses, is usually regarded as something that is only available to new horses or horses being retrained after their racing careers have ended. Long-reining can be a great way to add variety to your horse’s work schedule, but it doesn’t have to boring.
Are you using long-reining as a part of your regular horse schooling program? We’d love to know if you do. Please share your thoughts with us below in the comments section.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!