Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ground Work - Some Long Lining Basics

Before I get into the specifics of how Richard and I start young horses in the long lines, I think it would be best to go over some basics about the use of this equipment. There are several choices about how the lines can be run depending on what you have chosen for equipment. Where you want to run your lines and how you attach them to the bit, side pull or halter will be determined by what you are wishing to accomplish. I usually use a bit so I'll use that in my examples.

There are several choices as to how you can attach the lines to the bit. I'm going to go through those first and then I'll go over where the lines are run through the surcingle.

Choices for attaching the lines to the bit include:

Both lines can run through the corresponding surcingle rings on each side then directly to the bit attaching at the ring. The front view image shows the lines runs in this manner

The outside line can go the same as the above with the inside line going directly to the ring on the bit which it will pass through and then to attach to the surcingle. The center picture shows the inside rein run in this manner. The bottom image shows the outside line run in this manner.

You can run both lines through the corresponding surcingle ring. Then to the bit, through the ring and back to a higher ring on the surcingle like a draw rein would be.

Or you can run the outside line through the surcingle and directly to the bit while the inside line runs through the surcingle ring, through the bit ring and back to a higher ring on the surcingle.

Of course, which of these options you chose will depend on what you are trying to accomplish. These variations will give you lots of choices to help square the horse up, free up shoulders, etc.

Then there is the decision about where the lines will run through the surcingle in the first place. A common training belief is the higher a head set you want on the finished horse, the higher you want to run your lines through the surcingle. High powered english horses work with those lines right up on the top ring on each side.

Depending on whether you have the expensive surcingle with the extra set of rings or not will determine where you run the lines for the hunter style horse. With the expensive surcingle, the lines for the hunter horse will probably be run through the center ring. In a surcingle with only two rings on each side, you'd use the top ring for most hunters. Unless of course, you prefer your hunters long and low, the you'd drop down.

For most western horses the lines would run through that bottom ring on the surcingle. As I have said before, Richard and I prefer to use a western saddle in place of a surcingle on the western horse. We run the lines through the stirrups. This lower location makes for a nice line to the horse's hock. Since we use tapping the line on the horse's hock as a cue for forward movement, this placement is most helpful.

Once these things have been determined, you need to decide how you want to run the remaining line. With high powered (trained) english horses the lines are run over the horses back (working over the back) to the handler. Most horses, however, will work with the lines running down along side the horse's body to the handler. The outside line will rest across the horse's hock at the start.

If I confused anyone, please ask quesitons. In the next post in this series I'll go into starting the young horse in the long lines.

Frame versus Function

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  1. No confusion at all. You are completely clear and logical in this training method. Good job.

  2. Cool, beginning to understand! I ditto Molly's comment!

  3. very informative (and not confusing at all :-)

    i'm so glad you mentioned the second method of running the line from the hand through the bit to the surcingle on the inside - i seldom see it used, but it's my favorite method for working on a circle. it really helps the horse to understand correct lateral flexion.

    anyway, looking forward to the rest of your series :-)