Longe Line Logic
Round penning and longeing are two of the most important activities which you have available to you to establish yourself as the leader in your horse-human partnership. They provide a controlled environment where you can "tune up" the horse's attitude and at the same time establish your dominance in terms which the horse understands and naturally accepts... and more importantly, that the horse naturally and instinctively wants to follow.
This is the environment where you are stronger, faster and more agile than that 1000 pound horse... at least as perceived in the mind of the horse. The superior athlete gains respect in the horse world and the round pen and longe line provide relatively safe avenues through which you can earn this respect with relatively little force.
Before we discuss some specific uses of the longe line, you should review Round Corral Logic, where we discuss stance, active and passive hands, operating in the pocket and the drive line. Understanding these principles will make this section more sensible to you.
We're not trying to wear the horse down on the longe line. There may be times when a fresh horse needs to burn off excess energy, however our primary focus in longeing is to get the horse mentally and physically prepared for riding or other work. We want him to be attentive, thinking about where he is in relationship to the handler, what the handler is doing and paying attention to how he himself is moving. Longeing isn't about driving the horse around in fast, mindless circles. It's about tuning up the horse's body while at the same time waking up his mind.
To give you an idea what we're talking about, we'll take you through a longe line workout with "Junior," a 6 month old paint colt. We will start working horses at 6 months. At that age we won't do high impact work, we keep the lessons short and we try to keep them fun. If the youngster's attention starts to fall off after a bit of work, we ease up and wrap up the lesson. We also don't do a large number of repetitive lessons with these youngsters. This is kindergarten "introductory" stuff. A few short lessons, then some follow-up work a couple of times per month doesn't seem to make them sour and they have a fantastic head start when it's time to seriously start them. They have been through the drills, so we just shape 'em up, saddle up and have a great time.
I had to start this section out with some action sequences to catch your interest. The next part will discuss techniques of how to properly hold the rope (it does make a difference), followed by more advanced maneuvers.
Important Note: If you take on the project of developing an untrained horse, everybody will want to give you advice. Don't act on any advice, including the ideas offered in this site, unless it makes sense to you and fits your individual situation. Your abilities and the sensitivities of your horse(s) may differ from the examples given. Be alert and rational with your actions so neither you nor your horse will get hurt. This information is offered as illustrations of what we do and the reader must apply common sense since he or she is solely responsible for his or her actions.Happy trails!
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