Horse Training: How to longe a horse
COMMON MISTAKES WHILE LONGEING: A blog post by Kathryn Hetzenforfer.
The following is a post by a working student. This information should not be used without consulting an equine trainer, as the purpose of this post is first and foremost for the benefit of the student. Enjoy, and feel free to contact us if you have questions, or if you’d like to contribute.
He who moves the other’s feet is in control.
Moving your feet to move your horse’s feet
When longeing a horse, you may have to move around to position yourself in a position to apply pressure. That’s fine. However, when asking your horse to move, you shouldn’t push them by walking towards them or pull on the lunge line to move him closer. Remember, the purpose of lunging is to communicate with your horse through your body language.
Letting your horse move you
Remember that you are in charge while lunging, not your horse. This can become a problem particularly with unruly horses or ones who are still learning to lunge. If your horse refuses to turn or comes in to your personal space, don’t be scared to step in front of them or apply more pressure to let them know that you are leading them.
Look at where you want your horse to go
Use your eyes to communicate with your horse by looking at where you want your horse. Looking at your horse or around at your surroundings can distract and confuse him, as it sends mixed messages.
Response from Texas Equine Trainer, Joan Marie MacCoy: “When riding, you should most definitely look where you want your horse to go. The only time I ever find myself looking at a horse is when I have him turning in circles as a punishment for having bucked or something similar. In this moment, I am watching his head and body for balance, to make sure he doesn’t fall down to the outside of the circle. I’m also looking at him for my own balance. Other than that, look where you want to go. When longeing, this isn’t really a practical practice. Because longening is all about communication, and direction is the evidence of that communication, you should be looking at your horse. Additionally, there’s a safety issue as you may be in a small space (in a round pen), or even in the open you are still in very close proximity to the horse.”
Too much pressure
Many people think that the lunge whip should be used to guide your horse at all times when in fact, it should only be used to ask your horse to move faster or change directions. Remember, too much pressure desensitizes your horse to your movements. You should always release pressure immediately after they do what is being asked.
The whip should be considered an extension of your body. It isn’t the whip that coaxes or causes a fear response, it’s the hand that holds it.