Sunday, January 18, 2009

More on Ground Work - Long Lining

So far I've done a couple of posts on ground work. Ground Work versus Riding....What to Do? and So Let's Talk about Ground Work....What Is It and When to Start! It would be a mistake to post about ground work and not spend some time on the use of long lines.

One of the things I've learned about long lines is that having the right equipment to start can make a huge difference in how things turn out. For western horses, Richard and I, both employ a western saddle running the lines through the stirrups instead of a surcingle. For the english disciplines we like to use a surcingle where we can place the lines in a higher location for a higher head set on the horse.

While it's not necessary to have the most expensive surcingle out there, knowing where you're going to want to run your lines can make a big difference in which surcingle you buy. The more expensive ones seem to have more rings which gives you more options as to how you run your lines. That gives you more options to make necessary adjustments with different horses or problems.

The most important part of this equation is the lines themselves. I've learned, after many years of fighting long lines wondering why I wasn't getting my horse as forward as I wanted, that my lines were too light. It is the line bumping against the horse's leg that encourages the horse to step deeper under itself. Light lines are easy for the horse to ignore.

My early lines were a light nylon rope at the snap end. (see top image) Then it converted to webbing that was about 2/3 the length of the line. Trying to snap a correction through that line was like trying to flick a wet just didn't work. Now that I see the difference with heavier lines, I wonder why I didn't figure it out sooner.

The lines I have now are made from 5/8 inch mountain climbing rope (MCR) (see second image). Schneider's carries them in their catalog.....but we put mine together for less money and added our own modifications. They don't stretch and will hang nicely over the hock of a well balanced horse. A flick of the wrist sent down the MCR lines delivers a tap to the horse's leg encouraging the horse to step deeper underneath itself.

The afore mentioned modification to the lines is this. We built a twenty-five foot line with a knot at the end where we could add a five foot extension. The extension piece is built with a snap and clamp just like the longer piece. (The last image shows the two pieces attached for a thirty foot line.)

To me the nicest thing about this extension is the fact you can add it or remove it as needed. Since I've learned to work with this, I no longer am tripping over long lines dragging on the ground. I use the extended long line for the outside rein. When I change directions, I move the extension from one line to the other.......that way I'm not dragging that extra five foot from the inside line on the ground for me to trip over.

When we are starting young horses, Richard and I have different approaches to getting a rider on their backs. ( I've posted about Richard's adventures with the three geldings and their first rides Tag , Louie and Percy ) However, long lining has been an important part of the process of getting these horses broke to ride. On that part of the equation Richard and I share very much the same philosophy. From here I'm going into the specifics of the early long lining work that Richard or I do.

Long Lining Basics

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  1. I'm a big long lining fan as well. Interesting notes on the different line weights. I'll have to mull that over a bit. I haven't been happy with the too short length of my standard mail order lines for a while so need to invest in something new this year.

  2. I have some wider nylon lines that I have learned to live with, but can see where those MCR lines would be to a HUGE advantage. (shoot, I love my halters tied from that stuff, why not lines?)

    I am really looking forward to this series MiKael. It just seems like there is some stuff really missing, that we could have some fun with in long lines!

  3. Really interesting. It is so nice of you to share this knowledge with us.

  4. I'm also a big fan of long lining. I think if they get a feel for what you want from the ground, it's not that big a leap for them when someone finally gets on. Part of the training process is just letting them know simply what is expected. Good post on your equipment.

  5. I always ground drive my horses before I ride them for the first time. It gives them a good feel of direct rein pressure too! And I love the lunge lines along thier legs. It gets them used to ropes being all over. I use really heavy cotton lunge lines, but you are right, they do tend to 'give" a little.

  6. I too am looking forward to these next posts. Interesting for me, cuz I'm not a trainer.

  7. Interesting post, looking forward to the next one!

  8. cool! i like your ideas for long line modifications! the extension is a great idea - switching sides is such a hassle :-\

    i've never used the mountain climbing rope (i have a pair of lines with rolled nylon ends to go through the rings, and i carry a longe whip to move the horse) but i saw a set of long reins a woman had made from climbing rope with a set of small, light nautical pulleys to snap onto the bridle and surcingle rings that made position changes fast and let the lines slide really easily, and i've always wanted to try to make a set...

  9. Funny thing about this post on the lines being too light. I came to same conclusion about 2 years ago. Ever since, I weild purple climbing rope lines that my husband made for me out of old retired rope not strong enough for climbing. They really did make a difference in the feel and made communication a bit easier.

  10. Thank you for the idea about using the climbing rope and description of how to fashion it for long lines. I am going to try this.