Horse Longeing (Lunging) Training Plan

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  2006 Cherry Hill

How To Think
Like A Horse
Trailering Your Horse
101 Longeing and
Long Lining Exercises
Longeing and Long Lining
the English and Western Horse
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill
Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill
101 Longeing and Long Lining Exeercises
Longeing and Long Lining the Western Horse
Horse Handling and Grooming by Cherry Hill


You have a variety of subjective and objective goals to accomplish during your horse's ground training. The work should be approached so that the horse develops a confident, steady manner with a cooperative attitude and free, supple, forward movement characterized by a consistent rhythm. During the lessons, he should accept the bit, respond to the aids, work relatively straight and show "speed control": extending (moving on) and collecting (shortening) in his gaits. His frame should be allowed to develop naturally and progressively from the head up and nose out “kid frame” to a gradual rounding of the topline that leads to a collected “advanced” frame. Throughout the horse’s physical development, it is imperative that you always strive to meet the following criteria:

  • The horse moves forward freely with reaching, elastic strides.
  • The horse is relaxed.
  • The horse’s poll is the highest point of his topline (not the portion of the neck that is several inches behind the poll as this indicates the horse has dropped behind the vertical).
  • The horse’s faceline is appropriate for his conformation and level of training: As much as 30 degrees in front of the vertical for inexperienced horses; 20 degrees for the beginning horse; 15 for the intermediate horse; 0-10 degrees for the advanced horse.

This training period can be scheduled in many different ways. It can take place as a continuous program either year round or from spring through fall. Or the very beginning lessons can take place during a 30-day period. Then the horse can be turned out for a few months or an entire winter, and when returned to work, the training can resume. In total, it will take from several months to several years to accomplish ground training goals. Each horse will respond in his own time frame according to his starting point, his natural ability and the ability of his trainer.

The overall goal is to have your horse do what you want him to do where you want him to do it and when you want him to do it. Of course, your requests must be fair and reasonable at all times. If you make it easy for your horse to do the right thing, he will develop a positive attitude toward his work. If you set things up so that it is physically or mentally difficult for him to do the right thing, he may not look forward to his work. This does not mean that you shouldn't challenge your horse. By all means, he needs to be challenged in order to learn, but present him with requests that he can fill.

Often what a trainer asks of a young horse is the very opposite of what the horse would choose to do on his own. A young horse is frequently unfit, unbalanced, and emotionally unstable. This causes him to travel heavy on the forehand, crooked, and in a haphazard and erratic fashion. We aim to develop steadiness in a young horse. First we teach him what he should and should not do and then we gradually improve his form in these maneuvers. When we define how a horse does what we want him to do we are talking about the quality of his actions. To give the most solid base for more advanced work; your young horse should work in harmony with you, moving freely forward with energy in a rhythmic, balanced fashion.

When applied to horses, the word free can create confusion in some people's minds. Freedom indicates a lack of restriction and usually brings to mind a horse galloping through a field of flowers on a sunny day. Yet free is not necessarily synonymous with wild. A well-trained and disciplined horse can and should move freely. When using free to describe a horse being trained, it refers to working him with effective aids that result in obedience without being forceful or physically inhibiting. The freely moving horse shows expression in his face, body carriage, and the way in which he lifts his legs, moves his shoulders and uses his back. To be able to work a horse freely yet totally under control is the ultimate goal of riding, which can be achieved in varying degrees by all dedicated trainers.

To allow a horse freedom, the aids must be applied with correct timing, position, and intensity. It takes years for a trainer to refine the means to influence a horse without restricting or blocking the energy from flowing around the horse's body.

There must be harmony between a trainer and a horse in order for the energy to be able to flow smoothly from horse to trainer. There must always be an open line of communication. To achieve harmony, on some days you may need to acknowledge your state of mind and admit when a change in your attitude might have to take place in order to have a productive training session. Harmony is evident in the expression and carriage of both the horse and trainer as they work. Poise, confidence and pride in work are characteristics of horse and trainer harmony. If a trainer is tense, distracted, out of tune, or in a negative state of mind, the horse's performance will be negatively affected. A trainer and horse working in harmony are in a state of energized yet relaxed concentration and make the things they are doing together look smooth and effortless.

Always observe your horse and determine if he is responding to you or just reacting. Is he tuned in or tuned out?

Although the greatest amount of new skill acquisition takes place when you first begin learning to longe or long line a horse, some people and some horses make only very minor, slow progress on a daily basis. And the more advanced you become as a trainer, the slower your progress may seem to be. You might be looking for that breakthrough that you felt when you first began learning. So the best thing to do is compare your skill levels and understanding today to where you were yesterday. Keep a standard in mind and note the progress you make.

It is crucial that you take time and care when setting your goals. Your success depends on it. To begin setting a goal, write down your overall goal such as


"Longeing at a trot calmly in both directions calmly"

Once you have zeroed in on your goal, itemize the benefits that reaching your goal will bring.

Horse owners universally state that the most limiting factor in achieving their goals is the lack of time. It is a fact that riding and caring for horses requires a good deal of time. Often, though, when a person says she lacks time, what she really lacks is quality time. Quality time is characterized by focused, productive work. It is not how much you get done that is important but how well you do what you do.

To ensure that the time with your horse is quality time, don't be in a hurry as you work with him. Your goal-setting exercises will help you determine what to do. Do first things first. Its better to do simple things well than bumble through more advanced lessons. Focus on what you are doing so that you do things right the first time and don't create large, time-consuming problems. Finish what you start. Be orderly; it will save you immeasurable time. Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. Use written and mental checklists to give you a measurable sense of completion.

  Cherry Hill

  2006 Cherry Hill 

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