Maribeth Dunlap Dressage

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Longeing Tips

Posted on April 1, 2017 at 11:20 AM

Longeing Tips

By Maribeth Dunlap

May 2007 (Revised April 2017)


There are many benefits and reasons for longeing. Longeing is an art itself and it takes many years of good practice to become effective. Longeing is meant to prepare a horse mentally and physically for under-saddle work. With the use of proper and correctly adjusted equipment, longeing can strengthen and help condition muscle, it can teach the horse the commands, and help the horse to carry itself in balance. It is important to understand that longeing should never be used for the horse to blow off steam. He should never be allowed to run and behave badly at the end of the longe line as this is when injuries happen and bad behaviors are learned. Longeing should be viewed and understood as another training tool and should be done with the proper equipment and in the proper setting.


The equipment needed to longe effectively is: longe line, cavesson, surcingle, properly adjusted side-reins, longe whip, bridle with bit, saddle as part of the horse’s every day riding apparel, protective boots or wraps for the horse, gloves for the handlers and helmets are another safety option for the handlers. The proper setting is one that is calm and controlled. Either the use of the circular pen or an assistant is needed for the young, rehabilitating, or spoiled horse.


Longeing is part of the process for rehabilitating a horse. If a horse has suffered an injury and has required rest, longeing in a safe and systematic way can help to build strength and muscle. It is all done as above and in a calm and controlled setting. The horse should never be allowed to play and blow off steam and energy at the end of the longe line as, depending upon the nature of the original injury; the horse can potentially re-injure himself. Longeing is a part of the process. One should begin by exercising the horse in- hand with long walks and hand grazing. As the horse becomes stronger and more calm, then short longe sessions can begin at the walk, then later at the trot and eventually adding the canter work. Most likely longe work should start with only a couple minutes in each direction and slowly build from there. Veterinarian advice should always be acquired when putting a horse back into work after an injury or lay-up.


Longeing is a vital part of remaking the spoiled horse. Longeing can help to teach the horse to work with you and not against you, it can help to bring the horse onto your page and your way of thinking, and can help to establish your role as trainer and number-one in your herd-of-two. Longeing can help to introduce the horse to the controlled gaits on a circle, to your voice commands, body language and the whip as an aid. With properly adjusted side-reins, longeing can also help to correctly condition the horse’s muscles and teach him to carry himself in balance. When the horse learns to move in balance this affects his self-confidence. Longeing the spoiled horse is a smart, safe step to make before the under-saddle part of his training. Longeing in this circumstance might take place for the first couple weeks of the spoiled horse’s training before any under-saddle work would begin. Again, all work should be done lightly at first and build slowly as the horse’s strength, fitness, confidence, willingness and understanding increases.


There are many other aspects of longeing and this article should not be viewed as a complete guide. I advise you to read as much on the subject as possible but most importantly, take some lessons from a trainer who is accomplished in the art of longeing. These are very valuable lessons and should be highly regarded as such.


This article was written by Maribeth Dunlap May 2007 (Revised April 2007) – All Rights Reserved Used With Permission.

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