Longeing your horse is one of the methods used when teaching and exercising horses. Unfortunately people forget the “training” part of longeing and focus only on using longeing as a way to exercise their horse. Although longeing does exercise the horse, that is only one small aspect of how it should be utilized to best help your horse.
What you will need
I always longe in a bridle or longeing caveson.
I do not longe in a nylon or rope halter. Nylon halters can pull and put pressure on the horse’s face and neck. The knots on a rope halter can dig into the side of the horse’s face and nose and can actually create scarring. Some people use halters because they say they are “too lazy” to put on a bridle. Seriously, you’re too lazy to spend three minutes to put on a bridle?
For those horses who do not work with bits, for whatever reason, a longeing caveson will give you control without a bit. If you visit my Facebook page, you will see the Spanish riding school horses being walked in longeing cavesons.
You should always longe in a bridle that has a chin strap as well as a bit that does not have leverage- this means no your bit should not have a shank. You can longe in a kimberwick, however, as you will not be connecting to the leveraged part of the bit. I just use an English bridle with a caveson (nose band) as it helps give me control, but it isn’t necessary.
You can longe with or without a surcingle or saddle- I’ll go into the particulars of those in future posts.
You will need a longe line- I like the nylon lines because they are flat and easier for me to hold, but they come in cotton as well. Longe lines come in different lengths, so find a line that works best for you. The only thing I would definitely recommend is to get a longe line with a “donut” at the end- I suggest a plastic donut as opposed to a small leather one as it will give you something to hold onto if necessary.
Make sure you have everything you need before you walk your horse up to the area where you are going to longe- you will need your longe line, gloves and longe whip. Make sure your horse has his bridle on- walk your horse up to the area with his reins attached, and put the the line on the horse in the arena.
I have clips on my reins, so it is easy for me to put the line on the horse, then unclip the reins- this prevents me from ever having a moment when the horse is not in my direct control. If you do not have clips on the reins, you can twist the reins around several times, then put them over the horse’s neck and clipping one rein under the throatlatch (see video). This will keep the reins in place on your horse’s neck.
When you put the longe line on, DO NOT clip just to the bit- that can end up pulling the bit through the horse’s mouth. Instead, put the end of the rope through the ring of the bit, and pull it up and over the horse’s poll- then clip to the other side of the ring. This will keep the bit in place and will put pressure on both parts of the bit when you pull, mimicking a rider pulling on the reins. This will help give you control, and can help the horse get used to bit pressure. It is important that when you longe that you are just as easy on the line as you would be on the reins, as you have direct contact with your horse’s mouth. Remember when you change directions, you will need to stop and take the line off of the bridle, then hook it up through the other side (I’ll go over this in future videos).
Once you are hooked up, you can start longeing- I will go into the particulars of that in the next post!
***OK, I know you are asking why I keep spelling longeing with an “o” and an “e” instead of with a u, as in lunging. Basically, it’s because I’m old and when I was a kid and reading anything I could about horses, I read a lot of books by British authors who used the spelling “longeing.” When I got older, I noticed people in the United States spelled it “lunging,” but the original spelling was pretty much already ingrained in my mind. Trying to spell it differently is as difficult as it is to keep me from double spacing after each sentence! 🙂 ***