Clinton Anderson: Longeing for Respect, Part 1

Learn to send your horse onto a circle, then ask him to stop, in this first of two parts on longeing for respect.
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Learn to send your horse onto a circle, then ask him to stop, in this first of two parts on longeing for respect.

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Photos by Kevin McGowan

If reliable control over your horse is what you crave, then this lesson should become a keystone of your training program. Why? Because my longeing for respect establishes you as leader of your horse in a language he understands: his own. In a herd, one horse gains dominance over another by controlling the other's movement. The boss horse can make an underling step away in any direction.

Similarly, when you longe for respect, you're asking for frequent changes in the direction of your horse's movement, in effect bossing him around. This is what sets my longeing apart from the traditional variety, which emphasizes continuous circling. It's this control over his movement--while you remain relatively stationary, like the herd boss--that establishes you as the leader. This authority carries over to everything you do with your horse, on the ground and mounted. And, as you move your horse's feet, you're stimulating the thinking side of his brain, which makes him even more receptive to whatever you're attempting to teach him.

In this lesson, my student Renee Humphries and her gelding Sammy will show you how to send your horse out onto the longe circle. Then they'll demonstrate the stop. Next time, you'll learn how to do the repeated changes of direction that are the heart of this essential exercise.

I'll explain what's happening along the way, and Renee will share her insights, as well. Before you begin, be sure to review the lessons leading up to this one (see below).

To Get the Most from This Lesson:

  • Outfit your horse in a rope halter with a 14-foot lead.
  • If you don't have a training stick, make one using a sturdy, 4-foot-long stick. Or, use a dressage whip.
  • Make sure your horse has mastered our previous lessons on moving his hind end, moving his front end and moving out of your personal space. Review these lessons each day before beginning your sessions on longeing for respect.
  • Work equally in both directions.