If you’re new to the technique of longeing a horse, it’s recommended that you ask for help from an experienced instructor or horse person. That being said, you can still learn about the basics of longeing, the equipment needed, and how it can benefit your horse.
If your horse is well-trained, he or she should have been taught to behave and respond to the handler’s commands on a longe line. Longeing is extremely useful; it can enable you to easily introduce new situations or surroundings to your horse, warm him up prior to schooling, or teach a new command. Not only is a beneficial for the horse, they can also be used to help a rider gain balance and an independent seat.
You can choose to longe your horse in a longeing cavesson, halter, or bridle. If you’re going to be doing intensive schooling, rather than just letting your horse expend his excess energy safely, it’s best to use a bridle or cavesson. If your horse tends to let out a few bucks on the lunge line, it may be wise to use a lunge line with the chain attached to allow extra control. Run the chain to the inside ring the halter and wrap it once around the noseband, then run it through the outside ring up the cheek piece, where you can clip it to the upper rings of the halter. Be sure to switch the chain when you change directions. The handler should use a chain longe line with upmost care, and it should never be used in a harsh manner to punish the horse. Instead, it should be used in a gentle manner, with the pressure released as a reward.
If your horse is well behaved, you can use a regular longe line without a chain and attach it to a halter, bridle, or cavesson.
The longe line should be held in a neat, safe manner. Tangling it around your hand can get you dragged, or worse, if your horse decides to bolt. Hold the lunge line neatly in the hand corresponding to the direction your horse is traveling in, with the slack neatly folded in the opposite hand. Keep a steady light contact with your horse. Position yourself in the middle of the circle near your horse’s shoulder. If your horse requires extra room for balance, you can even walk a small circle within his.
Another useful tool, the longe whip, acts as your driving aid from the ground, similar to your leg from the saddle. Hold the whip in the hand opposite to the direction your horse is lunging. For example, if your horse is longeing to the right, hold your whip in the left hand. The whip use should ideally be used to suit your horse’s comfort level; if a slight raise of the whip’s tip is enough to get your horse into an upward transition, then that is sufficient. Along with the whip, most well-trained horses also respond to verbal commands, such as “Walk,” “Trot,” “Canter,” “Halt,” or “Whoa.”
Its well worth the time and effort for a handler to learn this valuable skill, and learning the function of each piece of equipment. You and your horse can reap many rewards for longeing regularly and correctly.
Classical Dressage. “Lunging – The Basics.” Sue Morris.