To Get the Most from this Lesson:
- Outfit your horse in a rope halter with a lead that's at least 14 feet long. I prefer my own halters, which have extra knots on the noseband for improved responsiveness, but any of the stiffer rope halters will do. If you don't have a training stick, you can make one of your own (using a sturdy, four-foot-long stick with a six-foot detachable string, which will be left off for this lesson), or else use a dressage whip.
- Take the necessary time to teach your horse these maneuvers. Short training sessions every day (say, for 20 to 30 minutes) are preferable to longer, less frequent sessions. If you can train only three days a week, make them consecutive days, to enable your horse to build on the prior day's lesson.
- Review with your horse the in-hand exercises from the first lesson(desensitizing to tools, disengaging hindquarters and forequarters, backing up) before beginning this second lesson.
In our first segment on longeing for respect, you learned the in-hand exercises that prepare your horse for my form of longeing (you desensitized him to your training tools, taught him to disengage his hindquarters and forequarters, then backed him up).
In this lesson, you'll build on that training to send your horse onto the longeing circle, then have him turn in, stop, and face you. (In the third lesson, you'll complete the longeing lesson by learning how to direct your horse in smooth, continuous, repeated turns on the hindquarters while on the circle.)
This form of longeing is consistent with my approach to training, which avoids fighting with your horse. Instead, you take the energy he creates in unwanted behavior and use it to teach him something positive. By controlling the movement of his feet in all directions, as you will in my form of longeing, you activate the thinking side of his brain, and reinforce that you are in charge of him at all times.
This article originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Horse & Rider.