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How To Think
Like A Horse
An Effective Rider
101 Arena Exercises
101 Longeing and
Long Lining Exercises
and Long Lining
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill
Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill
Your Horse Barn DVD
101 Longeing and Long Lining Exeercises
101 Longeing and Long Lining Exeercises
Longeing and Long Lining the Western Horse

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June 2005

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill  Longeing - Listen Up

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill  Riding - Leads

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill  Los Tres Mousekateers

This newsletter is a personal letter from me to you, a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.
My goal is to answer some of your questions and send you interesting stories
and helpful tips for your horse care, training, and riding.

  2005 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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Longeing - Listen Up

A frequent question I receive is how to get your horse's attention when longeing. Here is an exercise from my book 101 Longeing and Lining Exercises that I hope you will find helpful.



Be sure your horse has had a chance to warm up sufficiently before you teach him to stop. He is usually warmed up when his topline lowers and he is showing signs of relaxation. You will eventually want to stop a horse from any gait. First teach him from a walk. Once he has stopped you want him to wait patiently and either watch and listen to you for the next set of aids or stand at ease (Exercise 18). First you want to teach him to stop, look, and listen. At first, just require the horse to wait a few seconds and gradually build up his ability to stand for longer periods. If you ask for a full minute the first time you will likely get an explosive burst because with a young horse, the suspense will get to him and he will act as if he will jump out of his skin if he has to stand still for one moment longer (sound familiar mothers?).

a. The horse is moving to the left at the walk. Your left arm is passive, either hanging at your side or behind your back. Your right arm holds the whip in a following motion on the horizontal to keep the horse moving forward.

b. To stop the horse, rotate the whip behind you and lower it. Reach out with your left arm. Either step to the left with your restraining foot (left) or toward the horse and say “whoa”.

c. Once the horse has stopped, lower your left arm and stand in a neutral position: whip behind you with the tip resting on the ground, even weight on both feet, arms at your sides. At this point you don’t want to stare at the horse’s inside eye which could intimidate him and cause movement. But you do want to make contact with him. If you connect mentally, the horse will notice every nuance of movement. To connect mentally, you need to concentrate and focus on the horse without thoughts of overpowering him. You just want to communicate and get responses. To get the horse to look at you, that is physically turn his ears or head slightly toward you, choose something that comes naturally to you. I run my finger nail on the rough denim fabric of my jeans and find that the horse’s ears usually point my way. That is all I want. The conversation was: “Hello, are you with me?” “Yes”. This will not work if there is a 35mph wind or the horse is preoccupied with a group of galloping horses in the adjacent pasture. But it is your goal. It is natural to want to use a horse’s name to “get his attention” however I think it is best to save the horse’s name for calling him in from pasture or speaking to him when I enter his pen or stall to catch him. I want him to associate his name with coming to me. This is definitely NOT what I want in the longeing situation. I want the horse to stay on the rail, body facing straight ahead, only the head turning in at most. Other attention getters I have seen used: raised hand or finger, “hey”, clicker in pocket, clearing throat, other noises.

d. A horse should not turn in off the circle track. If his forehand leaves the circle like this horse, you have lost control of the horse’s body. Now you have two things to do: you have to get the horse back into position and you have to teach him to stop, look, and listen. Try to read the horse and prevent this. Often just a step in his direction will thwart him. If you allow or encourage a horse to face you too much, then he will be more likely to just turn in and come to you. This bad habit is very hard to change especially if the horse has been rewarded for coming to the center with a treat. Picture what could happen during long lining! As they say in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Hollywood, “That’s a wrap!” Never teach your horse to come to you in the center of the training pen. Never feed treats in association with longeing or long lining.

SPOOKING OR SHYING – veering or jumping sideways at real or imagined things. Sometimes a horse will veer in because he is spooking at something unfamiliar outside the pen. Take the time to review in-hand work and build up your horse's confidence by working him near and over obstacles. If he is playing or making up boogie men, use the techniques outlined in Exercise 34.


Your Horse Barn DVDAnother very common plea for help is how properly ask for and ride a canter. Here is an excerpt from Becoming an Effective Rider on how to ask for a canter and Exercise 10 from 101 Arena Exercises that describes the canter (lope) and how to sit the canter.


Aids for the canter or lope, right lead:

  • Apply the aids when the left hind leg is about to land
  • Think – “Come under behind, come up in front, and roll forward smoothly into a three-beat gait.”
  • Seat - Right seat bone forward and up; left seat bone back and down.
  • Push down on the left seat bone then follow the forward movement to the right (without leaning forward) just as the horse creates the forward movement, not before.
  • Legs - Right leg on girth; left leg behind the girth; both active
  • Reins - Right direct rein to create flexion and an appropriate amount of bend; left supporting rein or bearing rein to keep horse from falling in on right shoulder.

DESCRIPTION The canter (lope) is a three-beat gait with the following foot fall pattern:101 Longeing and Long Lining Exeercises

    1. initiating hind leg or outside hind
    2. the diagonal pair or inside hind and outside foreleg
    3. leading foreleg or inside foreleg
    4. regrouping of legs or a moment of suspension.

If the initiating hind leg is the left, the diagonal pair will consist of the right hind and the left front, the leading foreleg will be the right front and the horse will be on the right lead. When observing a horse on the right lead from the side, his right legs will reach farther forward than his left legs. The right hind will reach under his belly farther than the left hind; the right front will reach out in front of his body farther than the left front. When turning to the right, normally the horse should be on the right lead.

The canter has an alternating rolling and floating feeling to it. The energy rolls from rear to front, then during a moment of suspension, the horse gathers his legs up underneath himself to get organized for the next set of leg movements. The rider seems to glide for a moment until the initiating hind lands and begins the cycle again.

A lope is a relaxed version of the canter with less rein contact and a lower overall body carriage.

HOW TO Ride the Canter, Right Lead

It is not enough that your horse is on the correct lead. You must ride every step of the way to keep him in balance and in the correct position.

    • Right seat bone forward, left seat bone in normal position
    • Upper body erect
    • Outside shoulder forward, inside shoulder back
    • Right leg on girth, active, creating right bend and keeping horse up on left rein
    • Left leg behind the girth, active, keeping hindquarters from swinging to the left, maintaining impulsion.
    • Right direct rein to create appropriate amount of bend and flexion
    • Left supporting rein or neck rein if appropriate

USE All western performances and Training Level dressage.

NOTE The trot-canter transition develops a good forward working canter.


Disunited is when a horse is on one lead in front and another behind. Also called cross-leaded. This is very rough to ride.

Counter-cantering is cantering on the "outside" lead on purpose as a means of developing obedience, strength, balance, and suppleness. If counter-cantering on a circle to the right, the horse would be on the left lead and he would be flexed left.

CAUTION Don't force a horse to carry his head too low or he will be unable to round his topline and bring his hind legs underneath himself and will subsequently travel downhill, heavy on the forehand.

Don't slow a horse down too much at the canter or the diagonal pair of legs can "break" (front landing before its diagonal hind) giving rise to a four beat gait where the horse appears to be loping in front and jogging behind.

Be sure the horse is moving straight ahead, not doing the crab-like canter.

To read more about cantering/loping on the correct lead, read this article from the Horse Information Roundup

Correct Leads

Have a great training session and ride. See you down the trail.

Cherry Hill

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