Long Lining Into Fitness

Long lining into Firness

I haven’t ridden much this winter. The footing has been slippery and I no longer have access to an indoor. Given her intermittent work schedule, I decided that both of us needed to get back into shape for spring and that would involve ground work.

Last winter I taught Zelda how to long line, so I brought out the long lines and lunging surcingle. But, Zelda had complete amnesia about long lining. Walk forward? Not happening. It took another lesson with a more experienced trainer for Zelda’s memory to magically return. And even then, it came with some squealing, some bucking and the occasional rear. It’s amazing how big she looks when she’s standing on her hind legs! Not that she was trying to hurt me; no, she’s just a drama queen. I wasn’t able to get a photo of that, but I did get some of the attitude.

It’s a shame you can’t hear the squeal.
Zelda looks like she’s working but she’s actually gathering herself for the buck.
Little does she realize that she’s working harder by disobeying than by doing what I asked.

So why long lining? By having two reins, you have more control (really) and the chance to feel both sides of the horse’s mouth. By establishing contact you can better control your horse’s bend, as them to work through their backs, and teach them how to be straight. It also gives you the chance to watch your horse move and see where they may be weak. In Zelda’s case, I want to get her topline more developed before we start doing more work under saddle, so we work up and down the hills in the pasture, which has the added benefit of helping me get my steps in. We’re also working on transitions and, at the end of each session, lateral work. Zelda can be tight in her left shoulder and asking her to leg yield from the ground, gives her the chance to practice the move without having to deal with a rider’s weight.

I prefer long lining over lunging because it gives you more choices. Yes, you can still have your horse work in a circle, like she is in the photos above, but you can also go somewhere. When I’m a bit more confident about her ability to listen to me, I intended to long line her on the trails, too.

Do you ever long line your horse? Sometimes it can be tough to find a trainer to teach you and it really is easier when starting out to have someone who knows what they are doing. And even to sometimes get your horse moving forward. I’ve taught a couple of horse’s to long line. Let’s just say some take to it more easily than others!

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