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Longeing
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Helen
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 Posted: Tue Jun 24th, 2008 09:28 am
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Hi all,

I've been thinking about this recently, but Patricks questions have galvanised me into action, so to speak.
I've never been 'taught' to longe; I have driven a horse round in circles before but it was on a kind of 'do as you see' mentality, and not for long. I've seen many people do it though - and as Dr Deb says, the majority are constantly pulling on their horses heads and I have seen many complain about being 'dragged' all over the place when longeing, which seem to miss the point entirely.
So I thought I'd ask some questions - I realise that it would be much easier to just go out and practise with a competent teacher, but getting the time, opportunity or resources to do that is unlikely at the moment.
The main point that I feel Dr Deb has made is to always be stepping towards the horse; OK, that makes sense. But how do you ask your horse to move in a circle in the first place? How do you ask it to slow? Before I got onto this forum, I would have put pressure on the line to keep them in the circle, and pulled them into me to slow down.
Also, a question about the 'flag' - when used, how should it be used? As I understand, most of the pressure to 'go' should come from body language, stepping assertively towards the ribcage. But if the horse ignores this - should the flag be used behind the horse, or in front? The Birdie Book seems to imply in front, that it should draw the horse instead of chasing it; does this work all the time? Would the flag ever be used behind the horse?

Sorry for my badly phrased questions; I'm trying to replace physical experience with words, which never quite works.

rifruffian
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 Posted: Tue Jun 24th, 2008 04:24 pm
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Well, similarly I have never been taught the techniques of longing and in fact it was never in my repertoire until recently in an effort to to get to grips with a difficult horse. My own random thoughts on the subject boil  down to why should I do it and how should I do it. In my particular case I use longing to get the attention of the horse, assess his mood, observe his soundness (or otherwise) of gait and thats about all, so far. As to technique, my primary notion is that the horse, not me, is there to exercise thus I want the horse moving with little or no motion from myself. I find the mention in post above...'step toward the horse', a bit puzzling.

As to how to increase or reduce the radius of the lunging circle.....my own experience is that the horse is very observant of my body language and I use this (with whip as arm extension) to increase or decrease radius.

Finally, typical duration of our longe session is ten minutes total.

Well thats the end of my random thoughts on this and of course I'm on lookout for ways to improve it.

 

Patrick.

Last edited on Tue Jun 24th, 2008 04:25 pm by rifruffian

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Jul 4th, 2008 07:28 am
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Patrick, all your reasons for longeing are good ones. The "common" perception is that you longe the horse in order to wear him down enough to ride him -- like the old joke series that goes,

Q: Why did the Indians ride the Appaloosa horses to the battle?

A: So they'd get there good and gol' darn mad.

Q: Why did the cavalry ride the Quarter Horses to the battle?

A: So they'd arrive a day late.

Q: Why did the sheik ride his Arabian mare three days through the burning desert to the battle?

A: So he could control her when he got there!

So these are jokes, really! And we really do not longe any horse, at any time, in order to wear him down.

Your query about why you should step toward the horse reveals to me, however, that you are likely not too aware of the nuances of your own body position or "body language" when you are working with your horse on the ground. Believe me -- these things matter hugely, and once you grasp the important points, you will find that your longeing gains a good deal of finesse.

1. Most people are unaware that they spend the entire time they are longeing their horse backing up. You must never back up "unconsciously", because to back away from the horse, with your chest facing the horse, has a definite and fairly strong meaning in "horse language" -- it means, "come to me".

Obviously, when you want your horse to be out at the end of the longe strap or rope, you don't want him coming to you. In fact, you don't want any part of his body whatsoever coming toward you, except possibly the flat surface of his forehead. In order for a horse to move straight while on a curving path, he must displace or "out weight" his body, so that there is somewhat more weight with each step upon both the legs that are on the outside of the path. We achieve this primarily by asking the animal to step under the body-shadow to a small or moderate extent with the inside hind leg, secondarily by directly addressing the lower part of the neck and the shoulder, so that the animal is inclined to lean outward through that section of the body. By the combined effect of stepping under the body-shadow with the inside hind leg, and outweighting the forelimbs, the animal will also displace the freespan of the back to the outside by curving this section of his body.

If you are backing up, you will "suck" the forequarter toward you, thus cancelling any chance of having the midsection of the body curve outward, and conflicting with and making much more difficult for the animal to step under the body-shadow with the inside hind leg. Plus, by backing up, you also "suck" the inside hind leg toward you, which is tantamount to asking the animal NOT to step under the body-shadow with it. By backing up, in short, you cause the animal to lean on the inside rather than upon the outside pair of legs, and you cause him to invert the curve of his body, so that if he is circling upon the left hand, he will be "shaped up" to go instead to the right. This is the very definition of crookedness, and the handler who backs up is teaching his horse to go crooked.

The longeur is backing up anytime he is not pushing off of his rear foot, and anytime his footsteps do not progress toward the horse.

The longeur's "rear" foot is the foot that matches the horse's hindquarters. In other words, if the horse is being longed to the left, the handler's rear foot is the foot that is on the same side of himself as the horse's hindquarters, i.e., the longeur's right foot is his rear foot.

The longeur should be taking walking steps at all times while longeing. He should not stand completely still at any time. With a very experienced and cooperative horse, it is possible for the longeur to take quite tiny steps, but they will still be steps. The greener the horse, generally, the bolder the longeur's steps will need to be.

The longeur's steps, assuming the horse is working upon the left hand, will be taken by planting his right foot, then pushing off from that foot, swinging the left leg forward-and-left. The right foot then catches up to the left foot, and the cycle is repeated.

What most people do, instead, is (again assuming the horse is working to the left), they plant their right foot and then step backwards with their left foot. This causes the left (longe-line) side of their body to pull back away from the horse, and it pulls the horse crooked. At the same time, because they have pulled their horse crooked and off-balance, they will feel that they need to apply whip. This is a fine technique if what you want is to wind up counter-circling each other!

Instead of counter-circling (which means the pivot-point for the corporate body lies within the length of the longe-line), the longeur ought to remember that longeing, driving, and riding are all, in actuality, one single thing; and that in performing this single thing, the human should always be seeking to get and maintain the horse in front of his "leg". When you are longeing, your "leg" is not your whip -- the whip isn't even necessary 99% of the time. No, your "leg" is your whole body, especially, the glow or laser-beam that emanates from the center of your chest, and of almost equal importance, the laser-beams that emanate from the center of the palms of the hands, from the place where the crucifixion nails are always shown.

Conveying this by description is difficult, so I am going to provide you a very quick and practical way to fix your longeing concept and the physical technique. Next time you intend to longe, clip the longe-line onto the horse in the usual way. Then, go down the line from the horse about eight feet, and tie a piece of bright-colored yarn onto the longe line.

Now, when you begin longeing him and he's out there on the longeing circle, you will easily be able to see the yarn tied to the line. Your job from that point is to always make the yarn move TOWARD THE HORSE. You will see instantly then what I am talking about, and why it is so necessary and beneficial that you step toward the horse when longeing.

You will also instantly see what the problem is with hotwalkers and other mechanical imitations of the real experience: for it is possible to completely finish a horse entirely by longeing and long-reining, but not unless the basic principles are understood. -- Dr. Deb

rifruffian
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 Posted: Fri Jul 4th, 2008 09:53 pm
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Uh huh Dr Deb, I've read your post....several times...... I've had this horse about a year and  he is very cooperative on the longe, whether he was seriously trained to be so  or whether to some extent it comes naturally, I don't know.  Anyhow, next few sessions, (will be a week or two due to other issues), I'll make a point of observing what my feet are doing and I will experiment with the yarn as you suggest. Cheers....Patrick.

Helen
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 Posted: Fri Jul 4th, 2008 11:17 pm
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Hi Dr Deb,

Thanks for your post, that confirms what I had already surmised from various publications of yours and answers Patrick... would you mind answering the original questions in my post? Not sure if you were planning to anyway, but I thought I'd bring it up.

Last edited on Fri Jul 4th, 2008 11:17 pm by Helen

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jul 5th, 2008 06:31 am
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Helen, as to your particular questions:

1. You should not be using any flag at all. The flag is not primarily a "driving" tool, and should not be used as such until far more experience is gained. It takes more skill to use a flag than a whip, and I will also tell you not to use a whip. Put both of these tools entirely aside for the time being.

2. Recognize that, as I told Patrick, longeing is a form of driving. This means that the longeur is behind and the horse is ahead.

3. Understand that when you drive your car, you get in and put the key in and the engine comes on. We commonly make the analogy that the hindquarters of the horse are like the engine of a car; that's where the 'drive' comes from within the animal, and that is correct. However, Helen, I imagine that when you get in your car to drive it, after the engine is on, you do not put your foot over the firewall and step on the engine to make the car go. In other words -- in an automobile, the engine and the gas pedal are in two different places. The same is true of the horse. The engine is in the hindquarters, but the gas pedal is the zone between about the base of the neck and about the middle of the ribcage -- where your legs would go if you were riding. You therefore, when you longe, "aim" your driving aid at THIS zone and, other than at start-up, NOT at the hindquarters. Aiming continually at the hindquarters is a fine way to teach your horse to go crooked on the longe circle.

4. Your driving aids, when learning to longe, are two things: the tail of the longe line, and, more importantly, your bodily posture, attitude, and energy projection. To use the longe line or rope, you swing it or spin it. Always spin down, i.e. the tip of the rope must be headed down toward the ground as it approaches the horse; in other words, if you are spinning the rope with your right hand, the tip of the rope would be seen by you to be moving counter-clockwise. This ensures that if you should ever accidentally hit the horse in the head with the tail of the rope, it will smack him downward rather than upward and thus not put an eye out.

5. You begin by selecting a horse that is calm and unflappable. You should NOT select a horse that is an "expert longe-r", because in all likelihood, that sort of animal will have the firm belief that his job is to go out to the end of the line and trot or run. What we want instead is a more biddable animal, one that will not bolt or kick, but also one that will go along with whatever suggestion you may make, instead of chugging along on his own, like a machine, without really paying much attention to your specific directions.

6. You start the session, once the horse is tacked, by coiling the rope in your left hand and being on the left side of the horse. Begin by having only about six feet of draping line, the rest being coiled in your left hand, held so that the coils are flat and thus no chance of any of the coils getting wrapped around your arm. With the longe line held this short, you essentially have the horse on the short rein, just as if you were going to "ground school" him in a leadline. And that is how you do begin: you ask him several times, gently, to untrack, placing the inside hind leg under the body-shadow while at the same time permitting the horse to step forward.

7. After a couple repetitions, the horse will tell you that he'd like to go ahead and walk ahead, and when you see this, then there will be no more question about 'how do you get the horse started.' You don't need to flag him or flog him; you just tilt him off balance a little bit, permit him to correct himself by taking some forward steps, and then promote the forward steps. Your longe line needs to have slack in it at all times. Move your right hand up and down with the palm facing the animal's inside thigh or hock. If he needs a bit more encouragement, feed about three feet of the tail of the line into your right hand and permit the tail to hang down to the ground. Then gently swing the tail of the line up against the back of his inside thigh or hock. You want to do the LEAST that gets an obedient, calm response of simply walking forward.

8. As the horse starts up, if you are slow feeding out the line with your left hand, the horse will bump into pressure and will almost certainly stop then, turn in, and even come in toward you. He will have bumped into pressure because you let him take the slack out of the line. There must always be slack in the line. You prevent the loss of slack in the line by practicing so you're not clumsy. If the horse kind of wants to bring his front end in toward you and/or stop anyway -- in other words, you have one that will stop even though there IS slack in the line -- you raise your left hand with the palm open and facing him, aiming the energy of your palms at the side of his jowl, the side of his neck, or the side of his shoulder, as needed; the farther forward, the stronger. Then when that has pushed the front end of the horse away from you and back toward the longeing circle, you shift to urging him to take forward steps by re-aiming at his ribcage, i.e. stepping on the gas.

9. Whenever anyone longes any horse, there is a balance that the longeur must maintain between applying pressure to the hind end, applying pressure to the front end, removing pressure from the hind end, and removing pressure from the front end. Whether the horse goes around the circle straight, or instead with his forequarter tilted or angled in, or with his hindquarter tilted or angled outward, or stops all the time and has to be re-started, or varies his speed continually from slower to faster, or bolts straight away for all he's worth, is the direct result of whether the longeur knows to balance, and can balance, those four factors.

10. You can only create the urge to move forward in the horse when his body is ahead of yours. The line of demarcation is the "drive line", which is about where the girth would go. If you are behind this line and you project energy toward the horse, he will likely step forward and stay ahead of you -- in that case, you are driving him, and that is where you have got to have the horse whether in longeing, driving, or riding. This is also, then, how you stop: all you need to do is work it out so you become ahead of the drive-line. The instant you get ahead of the drive-line, the horse will want to stop. You may only need to get your left hand ahead of the drive-line to effect stopping! Most beginning longeurs get ahead of the drive-line when they don't intend to, so their horses are always stopping when they don't want them to. But many horses can read a person pretty well, and when they're tired of longeing they may try to work it out that THEY get YOU ahead of the drive-line, so that they can conveniently have a rest. A horse will start respecting you better when the horse sees that you know when he's planning this, and can prevent him from executing the plan.

11. You slow, or regulate the speed, within the drive. In other words, to slow the horse, you stay behind the drive-line, but you reduce the amount of "push" in your energy. This can be refined incredibly, and it is a valuable area where you begin to learn more about yourself, your horse learns more about you, and most especially, you learn more about your horse.

This and the advice to Patrick should be enough to give you some things to play with....let us know how your longeing session goes. -- Dr. Deb

Helen
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 Posted: Sat Jul 5th, 2008 07:36 am
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Thank you so much Dr Deb, that's fantastic to have. I'll read over it a couple of times more, and I should hopefully have a chance to try this on Sunday.

Pam
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 Posted: Sat Jul 5th, 2008 05:17 pm
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This is really helpfull.  I have the kind of horse that puts me in front of the drive line so he can stop and turn into face me.  I couldn't figure out how to deal with this for the longest time.  Cracking a whip isn't something I want to do nor is it effective, so I just haven't been longeing much. I think the times I've had success at it, were when I just got lucky. My horse has many more years of experience dealing with people than I have with horses, so even though he is a very kind horse, he is also very clever!

By the way..I love those jokes......

Helen
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 Posted: Sun Jul 6th, 2008 12:15 pm
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Well... hmm. We only had a short time to practise, and I wasn't altogether pleased. I think the horse I was using might have been one of those 'expert longe-rs', or at least it seemed like it. His first desire was to graze - doing it on grass probably wasn't very smart. I tried to raise my energy levels but I need to practise that, I wound up tapping him lightly on the hind cannon, at which he raised his head, widened his eyes and walked quickly around me... not exactly a calm response. I really couldn't find the happy medium though... either he was paying no attention to me whatsoever, or he was rushing around at the end of the line with his head up. Any suggestions? One thing I think might help would be doing some mannering sessions, but we've been through this before - I don't think it's fair when I only see him once a month and the rest of the time he's ridden by other students. I'm a bit disheartened, really... perhaps my longeing attempts will have to wait for another time when I can be more fair to the horse.



On a lighter note, I had an interesting experiment with the birdie today - at least, I thought it was quite nice. This horse is used to being caught in the paddock: he waits until the human gets to him, stands quietly, and then follows. Easy. Today when I walked into his paddock, he pricked his ears and looked at me (his birdie flew out to me?), but with no inclination to move - that was my job, right? Just at the moment that his attention wavered and one ear flicked to the side, I decided to stop and see what he would do. The ear came back forward - he was very surprised, and after half a moment he picked up an energetic walk towards me.
Just interesting to see the birdie at work, I thought I'd share.

-Helen

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jul 6th, 2008 07:15 pm
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Helen, your experience with longeing derives from the fact that you've really never seen anyone longe correctly. Verbal description alone is not enough. I forget where you're located, but if it's New Zealand, please contact Jenny Paterson by EMailing horsemanshipnz@xtra.co.nz. You can then attend some sessions with her, borrowing a horse if necessary.

An important point I want to pick up on in your memo is where you say that when you tapped the horse on the hind cannon with the tail of the longeline, the animal raised its head, swivelled its butt end around away from you, and then stood there looking at you. You report that this is "hardly a calm response." Helen -- this is a calm response. The problem is that you don't know how to shape that response up. The horse is waiting for you to tell him what to do.

He's also waiting for the same thing if he zooms away with his head up. You'll understand that what I am really saying here is that if I myself had been there, there would have been no problem getting the animal to understand to walk, trot, or canter forward on the longe line, slow, stop, turn in, or reverse. Many a student comes into my clinics in the same spot you are. I give them some chance to show me where they and their horse are at. At the point where it is clear that it isn't working out, I will often then ask their permission to handle their horse for them, and within less than one minute, the animal is performing in whatever way I ask. Or else, if the animal is so green that he does not understand, or is afraid of, the ordinary aids and touches, then yes, we manner the horse first, because that is preliminary and can't be skipped at all.

Success is thus a question of knowledge and practice. The students at my clinics have the advantage of someone "live" there to show them how it's done.

So, this is why you also need a live teacher. This Forum is helpful but it will never be enough.

If you don't live in NZ, tell us where you do live and I can probably recommend someone else in that area. It seems I remember your having said sometime that you are not endowed with money to travel. Well, Helen, if you are endowed with enough money to be taking horseback riding lessons, then you have enough money to go anywhere you need to go to get the instruction and knowledge that will make it possible for you to do the things you say you want to be able to do. -- Dr. Deb

Helen
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 Posted: Mon Jul 7th, 2008 01:41 am
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Thanks, Dr Deb. I live in Victoria, Australia. And I'll be perfectly blunt here: money is not the issue. The issue is that I am still a minor and still at school. When I say I don't have the resources to travel, it means that I am not able to get my mother to take me to these various places most of the time. Nor do I have as much time to spare as I would like, considering that I am at a fairly important stage of my studies. The problem with this forum for me is that it puts all these ideas in my head which I have no way of trying out.  It also means that I get questions - like this thread - which I want to know the answer to, even though it isn't really necessary right now. I do my best to do some things - like twirling the head and loins, asking for neck telescoping and so on - which I think will benefit rather than confuse the horses I ride. The only thing I can further do is hope that in about 5 years or, possibly, more, I will be able to buy my own horse, which I can work with any way I choose. That's what's keeping me going. You once called me an 'avid reader'.... that would be because it's the only thing I can do wholeheartedly.

I've been trying to dodge around the issue for the sake of privacy, but I think it's fair enough that you understand where I'm coming from, if you are my teacher. Thanks.
-Helen

Last edited on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 01:42 am by Helen

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Jul 7th, 2008 05:46 am
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OK, Helen, that's just fine -- you'll get to this when you can. If you want to work on your mother to take you someplace, Melbourne is probably not too far and you should look up Tony Uytendaal. His contact information is in our "Friends of the Institute" list or EMail Leoniek@adam.com. Ask Leonie about attending a Tony "school". -- Dr. Deb

Kallisti
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 Posted: Mon Jul 7th, 2008 09:26 am
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Happy to lend a hand/horse if necessary - Chief's at Balmoral in Berwick Helen. (http://www.balmoral.info)

PM me if you want to catch up and talk horse for a bit.


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