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 taken off for this lesson), or simply use a dressage whip.
- Take the time necessary to teach your horse these maneuvers. Short training sessions (say, 20 to 30 minutes) every day are preferable to longer ones less frequently. 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 preparatory in-hand exercises from Longeing for Respect: Preparation and the basic longeing techniques (sending onto the circle; stopping and turning in) from our Longeing for Respect: Circling before beginning this lesson. Don't advance to this exercise until your horse is consistently obedient and respectful in those lessons.
In the last two lessons, you learned how to prepare your horse for longeing, then to send him onto the circle and ask him to stop and face you. In this final segment on longeing for respect, you'll build on that training to guide your horse in a series of smooth, continuous turns on the hindquarters while on the longeing circle.
This form of ground work is great for sharpening your horse's respectfulness. The fast and careful footwork required forces him to think, and because you're controlling his feet as they move in all directions, you're cementing the message that you're in charge of him at all times.
As a bonus, this exercise encourages him to collect and work off his hindquarters, thus strengthening him for under-saddle maneuvers.
Longeing for respect is a great pre-ride warm-up. You can also carry a 14-foot lead with you (if you don't already have a mecate rein), so you can repeat the exercise if needed on the trail. The respect and lightness you foster through my longeing techniques will carry over when you remount and ride on.
You can read my entire 10-lesson series in Training on the Trail, available at www.EquineNetworkStore.com.
This article originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of Horse & Rider.