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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Email: jackereynolds@yahoo.com


September 26, 2011

Longe-line 101

In Journey's training we are having to do a LOT OF BACKTRACKING.  On the longe-line in a simple rope halter I'm wanting a walk, trot, canter, and a snappy whoa. 

How do I get this accomplished?

What Journey has is a rushed forward, and wants to stop and change directions on her own clock...whoa is getting a little better, but definitely no "speed control" which means she isn't going to have much under saddle either. 

Hey...when I pick a project I PICK A PROJECT!   What I do like about her is she's very energetic and forward, but she needs to relax into that.  Should I do more free longing, or keep her on the line?  or...or...or....?

8 comments:

  1. I personally would only free lunge unless you are driving.

    Here is what I would do...

    Take her into your arena. Turn her loose no halter. Just stand and mill around with her in the arena for about 5 min without telling her anything. See if she picks up an interest in you. If she does just be with her for another 5 min. If not just wait. After she is interested stand at her left shoulder pet her and take an abrupt step to your left. If she follows do it again. If she is still following walk forward. (No voice commands) If she follows walk for a little turn to your left and then stop. Once she follows you walk her on the rail both directions change direction by turning to your left. Then pet, pet, pet and be with her for a few min and take a fun trial ride. Next time same thing but add a turn to your right. Just step toward her at her shoulder and she should step the same direction away from you. If not just hold your lunge whip horizontally at about your neck level when you step toward her. Continue for a few days and then you will be ready to move on.

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  2. Okay, I'm no expert. But I had/have a similar thing going on with my mare, Desire. I have been really focusing on getting her back under saddle for the past month or two as her baby was growing up (and separated mom and baby today! oh boy!). So she hadn't been ridden consistently in 6-8 months. I think Desire was only free longed in a round pen as she knows the basics of lunging (go around you in a circle and change directions somehow, eventually) but doesn't have a good grasp on the body language, whoa, etc when on a longe line. When I first lunged her she would just zip around at the end of the line with it taught, her head pointed away from me, in total la-la land. When I managed to stop her she would either not stop forever or would stop but then would rush right in on me and she had no idea that rope jiggling or even swinging meant STAY OFF, don't come in. I spent quite a few sessions teaching her the stay off thing, just by starting my queues quietly and eventually progressing to SSHHHing at her and waving the rope as it took that much for her to go "oh really?" and take a step back. Now she is almost to the point of a tiny rope wiggle will send her backwards. So that helped that problem. The zoning out and hauling ass issue I have been addressing by keeping my longe line SHORT, like 5 feet tops, and sending her around me as usual. Even if they start at warp speed they quickly find how difficult it is to do that on such a tiny circle. Once she settles to a walk, or a slow jog, I maintain that short line and practice what I want. It makes it easy because the horse is so close to you can easily plant yourself in front of, or your safe equivalent, when teaching the WHOA aid as opposed to trying to put yourself/energy in front while your horse continues to run giant circles around you ignoring you. I also switch directions on her frequently to keep her guessing and paying attention as she seems to assume what I want and then zone out some. With a mixture of whoas, changing directions, and whoas followed by just stopping and paying attention, obeying space constraints (don't walk towards me unless I say so!) then having the horse continue forward the same direction--that helps prevent the whoa-into-auto-direction-change which my mare also started doing--she has improved drastically. I did all that keeping her on a very short longe line, multiple times. Once she had a better grasps on things I gradually fed her a little more line at a time, and now she will walk, trot, canter, whoa, change direction, and stay off my space with the full length of the line out about 90% of the time. We still have our moments but when we do I just reel her back in and give her a refresher.
    Hope this, or some part of it, helps.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Okay, I'm no expert. But I had/have a similar thing going on with my mare, Desire. I have been really focusing on getting her back under saddle for the past month or two as her baby was growing up (and separated mom and baby today! oh boy!). So she hadn't been ridden consistently in 6-8 months. I think Desire was only free longed in a round pen as she knows the basics of lunging (go around you in a circle and change directions somehow, eventually) but doesn't have a good grasp on the body language, whoa, etc when on a longe line. When I first lunged her she would just zip around at the end of the line with it taught, her head pointed away from me, in total la-la land. When I managed to stop her she would either not stop forever or would stop but then would rush right in on me and she had no idea that rope jiggling or even swinging meant STAY OFF, don't come in. I spent quite a few sessions teaching her the stay off thing, just by starting my queues quietly and eventually progressing to SSHHHing at her and waving the rope as it took that much for her to go "oh really?" and take a step back. Now she is almost to the point of a tiny rope wiggle will send her backwards. So that helped that problem. The zoning out and hauling ass issue I have been addressing by keeping my longe line SHORT, like 5 feet tops, and sending her around me as usual. Even if they start at warp speed they quickly find how difficult it is to do that on such a tiny circle. Once she settles to a walk, or a slow jog, I maintain that short line and practice what I want. It makes it easy because the horse is so close to you can easily plant yourself in front of, or your safe equivalent, when teaching the WHOA aid as opposed to trying to put yourself/energy in front while your horse continues to run giant circles around you ignoring you. I also switch directions on her frequently to keep her guessing and paying attention as she seems to assume what I want and then zone out some. With a mixture of whoas, changing directions, and whoas followed by just stopping and paying attention, obeying space constraints (don't walk towards me unless I say so!) then having the horse continue forward the same direction--that helps prevent the whoa-into-auto-direction-change which my mare also started doing--she has improved drastically. I did all that keeping her on a very short longe line, multiple times. Once she had a better grasps on things I gradually fed her a little more line at a time, and now she will walk, trot, canter, whoa, change direction, and stay off my space with the full length of the line out about 90% of the time. We still have our moments but when we do I just reel her back in and give her a refresher.
    Hope this, or some part of it, helps.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Like the new header!!!!

    My basic philosophy is to change it up if what I'm doing isn't working (ie the problem is staying the same or - shudder - getting worse).

    My advice? Teach the lesson somewhere else, doing something else. Get the behavior somewhere else and then go back and apply it here. What's her motivator? If I wasn't getting what I wanted on the longe line, but she was good if I lead her, I would be doing walk/trot/whoa/back as a lead line exercise, complete with treats if I had a treat motivated horse.

    Can you put her in a situation (controlled) where she can offer you the correct behavior?

    Training my dog with a trainer has really opened my eyes to the number of ways to get a task done, and while not everything can apply to horses that we do with dogs, some of it does and it's been very interesting.

    So, no hard and fast solutions - maybe just some general ideas that will give you an idea of how to address?

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  5. Subscribing to comments. Because I forgot to in my last comment. *sigh*

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  6. I think online is best and free lunging comes after you get the online really good. But if you are good at free-lunging then you can teach it this way too. But I think it takes more skill.

    I think you have to decide on a method and then teach. I've learned several and each has their pros and cons. I think Parelli has the best "teaching" for humans (as in home-study), but not everyone likes their style. I've taken lessons from a couple of instructors who learned from Buck Brannaman and there are similar concepts there, but a slightly different approach.

    And I'm sure if you look there is probably 101 ways to teach lungeing. Method probably doesn't matter so much as long as you pick one method and are clear and consistent with your horse.

    Basically, you need the following...

    1.) A way to send your horse on the circle.
    2.) A way to speed up the gait (stop to walk, walk to trot, trot to canter)
    2.) A way to slow the gait down (canter to trot, trot to walk, and walk to stop)
    4.) A way to bring your horse back in to you in a safe manner. Or some people do not like this at all and prefer their horse halt and wait while you go to them on the circle.

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  7. I'd definitely keep her on the line. Free-longing (imo) doesn't really teach an out-of-control horse very much - although it will tire them out. But, I'd make sure your longe line is plenty long (at least 30 feet) - it is hard on a horse to make small circles.

    Does she stay out on the circle? Or try to cut in and make egg shapes/ovals?

    Try to always stay behind her shoulder, so you're kind of driving her forward. Angle your shoulders slightly in the direction you want her to go. If you get in front of her shoulder, she may think you want her to turn around. So, unfortunately, until you get her understanding her job on the longe line, you'll probably have to walk in a circle with her. I also really recommend carrying a longe whip. A flick of the whip in her direction when you can see she's getting ready to pull a spin move might help prevent her changing directions some.

    I'd say to start with the goal of just getting her to stay going the correct direction. She may even calm down if she's convinced you are in charge of her and she doesn't think she has to pick direction.

    Once she's doing that, then move on to just trotting only - if she's more relaxed trotting than cantering. Let her trot a few laps then ask for 'easy' while giving the longe line a gentle tug, tug - pull and release - don't let her pull against your firm hand on the line. Also, when you want her to slow down, change your body language from driving her forward in the correct direction, to a more relaxed posture. If she even so much as kind of thinks about slowing down, praise her! She'll probably only do a few strides at a time at first. If she puts in a really good effort at slowing down, you might make a great impression if you praise her a whollllle bunch and then stop the longing session right then.

    Keep up the good work - you'll get there with her. Just do try to keep the longing sessions short - and try to end on a good note - because longing really does put a lot of strain on a horse.

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  8. Lots of thoughtful tips here...I'll pick something and put it to work.

    Thanks all :)

    ~ E.G.

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