Long Reining

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I have personally found that long reining my horses to be the most effective way of training them to achieve balance and suppleness.

I use nothing more than 2 lunge reins, clipped either side of the snaffle bit.

These long reins simply act as long normal reins.

You have all the feeling and control as you would when are riding.

The beauty of long reining is that you can do all the movements which can be achieved when riding.

The less experienced are advised to change the rein at walk only.

With long reining you do not put too much pressure on the inside legs of the horse as you do with lungeing, as you can rebalance the horse more effectively with your outside rein.

Use the reins on the side of your horse as you would use your legs.

Start with your normal snaffle bridle with the reins twisted up into the throat lash.

Either lunge roller and pad or Your normal saddle and numnah I don't put the reins through the roller D rings or stirrups ever, some do to prevent the outside rein from dropping too close to the ground should the horse carry his head in a downward position.

Although you want the horse to relax and drop his head take care that he doesn't litrally hoover the ground with his nose.

With such horses side reins may be advisable which is such a shame because they so interfere with the horse's fluidity of movement which you certainly don't want to do with a young horse.

However I haven't found a problem and if you are concentrating on what you are doing then it means also that you can change the rein as often as you wish without stopping the horse to readjust tack.

Start by walking into the schooling area with the tack as outlined above.

You should have the inside rein obviously already clipped to the snaffle.

Take the other rein and clip it to the outside snaffle.

Then pass it over the neck to your side.

Slowly rub the mane with the outside hand and rein and slowly run your hand along the neck toward the saddle, then over the saddle, and very gradually the back and hind quarters.

Should the horse move forward at this time do not prevent him but let him walk a small circle around you.

When you feel confident that he is not alarmed by the lunge rein lying on his quarters fully pass it over to the outside.

Walk backwards and you should have a rein safely in both hands.

Do not stand too closely behind him should he shy as he may be distrustful at first but with a calm voice and hand ask him to walk on, talking reassuringly at all times.

I like to keep a slight inside angle to the horse rather than being right behind him certainly when a horse is green to this work, not just for safety but you can push the horse on with that outside rein.

Every horse is different some require more encouragement that others.

However, push the horse on not just with your voice but that outside rein just above the hock.

Once he has established trust in you, you can walk behind him to change the rein.

Do this as often as possible.

Then you can work on one rein on a large circle walking with him at first for further encouragement.

Push him into trot with your voice and additional pressure on the outside rein above the hocks.

As stated above some horses need more push with this outside rein than others.

I would work with a green horse for no more than 20 minutes for at least 2/3 weeks in just walk and trot.

Working them every other day NOT every day to prevent them from becoming stale.

After this time you can progress to the canter although every horse progresses at different rates. Many horses rush into the canter through a fast trot, although you have more control with the long reins than on the lunge, take care not to over balance on that outside rein as it can restrict the horse's natural carriage into the pace.

You want that outside hind to operate first to kick start him into the canter.

I usually quickly flick the outside long rein against that leg from a strong and regular rhythmic trot.

All handlers want that even feel in the canter as they may have with the walk and trot do not be disappointed that you don't for quite a while.

Just be satisfied that the horse has struck off into canter and hopefully on the correct lead.

The foot falls being: Outside Hind only then Inside Hind and Outside Fore together followed by Inside fore only. Should the horse strike off on the wrong lead or go disunited then with a calm voice bring him back to trot and re-establish him.

Deborah Sanders - Director (Amersham Livery)