A Crucial Skill
Long-lining- sometimes described as “riding from the ground”- is an incredibly useful, one might say essential, tool for the horse-trainer.
Anything that can be done under saddle can also be done on long lines, including jumping, lateral work, high school movements, hacking on roads and tracks, and spookbusting. One advantage is that the horse isn’t having to contend with the rider’s weight, so it’s also great for youngsters in preparation for backing, and rehabilitating horses after an injury or saddle damage.
You can also observe how the horse moves, so it’s very useful for shedding light on why some ridden movements might be difficult, and it can also be helpful for introducing the horse to movements before attempting them under saddle. Additionally, you can’t fall off!
Long-lining is a great way to warm up an exuberant, green or stiff horse, prior to schooling. It’s also (heaven forbid!) fun for both horse and trainer, and gives you another option of what to do with your horse other than the “school/hack?” scenario.
Long lining has great advantages over lungeing, especially when it comes to teaching a young horse to halt and rein back. It can dramatically improve a horse’s balance and paces, particularly in the trot, canter, pole work and jumping. A nappy or nervous horse can be helped hugely by being long-lined out.
In the process of learning how to long line well, the trainer will find that they have mastered skills involving body language, co-ordination, spatial awareness, and energy projection. Some people say it’s harder than it looks, and other people say just the opposite, but it’s definitely an essential skill to learn if you are committed to becoming an expert horseman, or have a youngster.