The long line is a safe and effective training tool used on horses of all ages, experience levels and disciplines. It is a cross between traditional lunging and ground driving. The trainer uses two long lines to work the horse in a circle, usually in a round pen, to simulate the cues given through the reins while working under saddle.
A surcingle and saddle pad work best for long lining. Remove the reins from a simple snaffle bridle, and attach one long line to each ring of the snaffle. Feed the excess long line through the center loops on the surcingle, then drape the outside line over your horse's hip. When you are ready to move forward, let that line fall behind the horse halfway between the hocks and the dock of the tail.
Some horses move forward better than others when long line training begins, but consistency will yield the best results. Ask your horse to move forward on the long line just as you would on the lunge line. Give the command to "walk" or "walk on," and click with your tongue. If he does not respond, swing the outside line gently against his hip. Continue adding pressure until he moves forward. Move with your horse as he progresses around the circle, using your inside line to tip his head toward the center of the round pen or arena.
The purpose of long lining is to teach your horse how to yield to pressure. Begin this training by asking your horse to change directions in the round pen. When your horse is tracking left and you are on his left side, increase pressure with the inside long line and move closer to his hip. Direct him across the round pen, switch to his right side, and begin tracking right. Repeat this several times.
Long lines help the rider establish cues for halting her horse. After the horse is relaxed and comfortable, use your voice command for halt (such as "whoa") and add slight pressure to both long lines. When he stops, release the pressure. If your horse does not halt immediately, continue increasing the pressure until he obeys. After three or four seconds, move him forward again, then gradually increase the interval between halting and moving forward.
Some trainers also use the long line to train the horse to halt from the front. Attach one long line to his halter and move in front of him as he walks around the arena. Ask him to halt several times throughout the session, each time moving farther away from him until he halts by verbal command alone.
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Laura College is a former riding instructor, horse trainer and veterinary assistant. She has worked as a writer since 2004, producing articles and sales copy for corporations and nonprofits. College has also published articles in numerous publications, including "On the Bit," "Practical Horseman" and "American Quarter Horse Journal."