Early this morning in a remote mountain region outside of Vienna, the famous archeologist, Dr. I.P. Bagatooshi, uncovered a long-lost equestrian device that hasn’t been seen in a millennium. When asked about the importance of such a discovery, Dr. Bagatooshi replied, “It’s my crowning achievement to be able to bring this technology back into the light for the equestrian world.”
He further went on to describe the arti-tack, “This particular specimen was made from supple leather, probably the skin of the once prevalent species of mountain goat that roamed the area, Capra hircus maximus, and has a number of primitive metal devices called buckles. This one also has a swivel joint.” Dr. Bagatooshi also commented on the condition of the arti-tack. “It’s in remarkable shape considering its age. I found it in a sealed, air tight wooden trunk. I believe the people of the time called them ‘tack boxes’.
Yes, I’m having some fun and the opening is completely fictitious, but that’s how I sometimes feel and view the equestrian world when discussing this particular piece of tack. Recently I met a woman; I’d guess she was in her mid to late fifties. She’d been involved in horses for a few decades. I was long-lining a horse at the time and she commented that she hadn’t seen anyone do that in quite some time. (You don’t say?) But what threw me for a loop at the time was that she pointed at the horse’s head and asked; “What’s that? I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
Have you guessed the piece of tack?
Let’s get the whole spelling thing out of the way right off:
Longing (soft ‘g’): a yearning desire; like mine for Jensen Ackles;
Lunging (soft ‘g’): to rip out one’s breathing apparatus; usually with bare hands and similar to the technique used to rip werewolf and vampire hearts out;
Lungeing (‘j’): a sudden forward thrust or plunge, as with a sword – but not exclusively with a sword, a baguette will work too. Lungeing is also done with the body as in yoga or sumo wrestling, though; using a sword is much easier on the back and knees;
Loungeing (‘j’): what my husband does in his underwear on Sunday afternoons; pizza in one hand, beer in the other – TMI?;
Longeing (‘j’): is a technique for training horses;
Longeing Cavesson (‘j’): a piece of tack used to assist in the longe training of the horse;
There, I feel so much better. Yeah, yeah, I know. I will accept lunging (‘j’) (not lunging (soft ‘g’) or lungeing (‘j’) because Webster says, but I won’t be happy about it.
With the current popularity of the round pen, many have taken up ‘free’ longeing. I don’t think the horses see a whole lot of ‘free’ happening, but at least nobody’s pulling on their faces or mouths. Whenever someone says; “I free longe my horse”, I always envision Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, in a meadow that goes for miles, ‘dancing’ with his horses without restraints of any kind. But perhaps that’s me getting in touch with my my unicorns, rainbows and butterflies whimsical side?
‘Free’ longeing does remove the need to be somewhat handy holding several feet of line, in addition to the longe whip. There’s no risk of a horse stepping on the line, getting it tangled in their feet, wrapped around their neck, or being jerked in the mouth. The person is free (oh, that’s where the ‘free’ part comes into play) to concentrate on body language and voice aids. Maybe rein aids come later?
Chillax members of The Round-Penner’s Association, I’m not against ‘free’ longeing in round pens but it IS a topic for another day.
Longeing is also often done in a bridle; certainly an acceptable way, but really not a way that should be tackled UNTIL the horse has an educated mouth, and understands many of the rein aids (and voice aids, and whip aids, and body aids). The person needs to be far more skilled in the dying art of longeing (in my view, it’s on its deathbed with three hooves in the grave), so as to be able to educate the horse further and not confuse or hurt the horse with ill-timed or inappropriate harsh tugs and pulls of the longe line.
My least favorite way to see a horse longed, and arguably the least effective (except when Klaus does it), is in a halter. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve seen a loose horse in a halter running with 15’ of line trailing behind, or the number of times I’ve seen a horse bopping around like a Mexican jumping bean with the halter pulled over one eye, or the number of times I’ve seen a horse twist its neck, tilt its head, and do a jaw-droppng imitation of Gumby, while being longed in a halter. The reality is; it’s just not an effective way to communicate with the horse (except when Klaus does it), to teach the horse rein aids, or to retrain a spoiled or rambunctious horse. It is, however, awesome for handwalking and handgrazing.
A longeing cavesson is adjusted snugly on the horse, so that it does not slide on the face. Because of this fit, the horse can feel the nuances of subtle rein (line) aids similar to those it would feel from a competent rider, but the pressure is not on the mouth, instead, it’s concentrated at the sensitive mid-face, where there is hard bone close to the surface. It sits on the face the same way, and in the same position, as a simple bridle cavesson; just under the curved ridge of the mandible. It can be adjusted lower on the face for spoiled or rank horses to add additional leverage and ‘bite’, and then readjusted to its higher, proper position once the horse understands he/she no longer has the upper hand.
Pictured below are photos of some longeing cavessons. Note they come in different styles, materials, material thickness and colors for those visually sensitive people. Some have more padding than others, some have browbands and some don’t. There’s literally an appropriate style and size for any horse or pony.
You can also fit a bridle on with a longeing cavesson and that has its own advantages and uses.
(Please note the use of bit keepers with a full-cheek bit!)
There are even longeing cavessons that allow for the attachment of a bit without the rest of the bridle.
I’m going to give it to you plain and simple. It is infinitely easier to teach a young or green horse the rein aids, to retrain a spoiled horse, and to teach longeing in general with a longeing cavesson than with any other head device, and you can do so without risking hurting the horse’s mouth. It is way easier for the person to control the horse, to learn how to longe the horse, and to learn how to communicate with the horse. Until you’ve used a longeing cavesson and had some instruction, you will not understand the difference. It’s immense and I can’t stress that enough. What can take weeks of education or re-education can be taught and conveyed in a longeing cavesson in a matter of a couple short sessions.
Here are some basic rein aids:
Moving the longe line in a waving (up and down) motion tells the horse to slow down or stop, depending on the frequency and ‘depth’ of the wave. You can literally put a rank horse on its butt with a couple of quick, vigorous waves, and doing so does not hurt the horse. There’s no pulling, jerking, or yanking, but it sure does get their attention.
Moving the longe line in a snaking (side to side) motion tells the horse to move ‘out’; make the circle bigger. Combine that with pointing the longe whip at the shoulder and the horse moves its shoulder ‘out’. Point the whip at the hip and the horse moves its haunch out, or point the whip at the horse’s girth and the horse moves its whole body ‘out’. Again the frequency and ‘width’ of the snaking speaks to the subtlety or ‘shouting’ of the rein aid.
Closing your hand on the line and just ‘holding’, like you would under saddle, is the beginning of teaching the half halt. Drive the horse forward with your body, voice, longe whip, or combination and ‘hold’ is the next step. Drive the horse forward with your body, voice, longe whip, or combination and ‘check’ softly in the wrist and you’ve got a full-fledge half halt.
And so it goes.
The other great advantage to the longeing cavesson is that you can easily change the horse’s direction without having to stop the horse, walk to it, and readjust the line. That’s an advantage people enjoy with ‘free’ longeing and ‘halter’ longeing, except it works way better (and it’s cooler to watch) in a longeing cavesson. (Please do not tell me you allow the horse to face you when it stops, or to walk to you and stop in front of you of its own accord when you longe; I’ll have a hair pulling fit – your hair, not mine.)
Once a horse is adept at longeing in a longeing cavesson, the next step is long lining and for the horse this is a natural progression.
I could type all day about longeing, but I really just wanted to remind people of this handy piece of tack that nobody seems to use anymore, and that some people in the equestrian world have never seen. The latter I find disturbing.
For your viewing pleasure, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite longeing videos:
How timely! I told someone on a forum they needed to get a cavesson and a clue and got piled on and told “that’s the way we all do it in America”
Well duhhhh you all do it wrong!
Of course I know there are some who know better.
Wow, I’ve never heard of this before! I’ve always longed in a halter, no wonder my mare has such a difficult time understanding what I’m asking her. I’m definitely going to be looking into getting one. My poor mare, I’ve been confusing the heck out of her all this time.
A very good, informative article!
Please come back and tell us how it goes. Better yet, document the differences and the progress and perhaps consider submitting a write for the blog.
Darn, I was looking forward to videos that showed me proper use of a cavesson. Nice switch there, Mercedes. 🙂
I’ve always used just a halter with my boy who was beautifully trained to lunge when I got him. After reading your article, I’m thinking I should go with a real cavesson for our new guy who has been round-penned and spoiled rotten by previous owners.
Thanks! Learning something new is a good way to start the day. 🙂
It turned out to be so much easier to find blooper longeing videos, so I ran with it, even though that wasn’t my original intent.
Certainly you can get away with longeing in a halter if the horse is well-trained, particularly if your intent is just to do a quick assessment, though, putting on a cavesson hardly takes anymore time than a halter and the results are quite different even with a well-trained horse.
Thanks, Mercedes! I appreciate the advice and the inspiration to learn something new. T’is the season for tack swaps in my area, so guess what I’ll be looking for? 🙂
Wow this is very well timed! I spent an afternoon last week trying to lunge my mare; on a line, but in a halter (yikes – didn’t know it was bad!). I spent the whole time chasing her around to keep her moving, than getting her to move and stretch her body properly. And of course she was annoyed by the process and would snake her head at me. ugh. So I was thinking I need to get proper equipment, maybe some different methods for lungeing than what I was taught and your post has definitely confirmed that!
I feel bad now lol. My poor mare! At least she got a butt load of peppermints afterwards.
In my opinion, lunging and round penning are very different. I am not an experienced trainer, just an experienced rider. I do use the round pen on occasion when I just cannot ride, or to check for lameness. But if you were to actually lunge my horse, he would have to be trained to do it. He’s on old trail pony, and was broke, but not highly trained when I got him, and I never did lunge him.
That’s NOT a “Full Cheek” snaffle btw, it is a Fulmer- loose rings at the side- the only form of full cheek bit with which keepers should be used.
Definition of LUNGE from the OED
Translate lunge | into French | into German | into Italian | into Spanish
Definition of lunge
a long rein on which a horse is held and made to move in a circle round its trainer: a few sessions on the lunge will improve your riding [as modifier]:a lunge line
verb (lunges, lungeing, lunged)
exercise (a horse) on a lunge: it seemed wise to lunge him first, as he had not been ridden for days
early 18th century: from French longe, from allonge ‘lengthening out’
lunge in other Oxford dictionaries
Definition of lunge in the US English dictionary
More words in this category
Whether you like it or not this blog just went INTERNATIONAL and you cannot make single country statements like this and expect to be taken seriously. Yes, this is correct=- for America.
The rest of the world? Not so much!!!
As you can see the root word is the same, American or ROTW (rest of the world) but the word in most common usage is still LUNGE.
All this is rhetorical since I would not lunge a horse anymore- it is far too dangerous to the horse when done incorrectly, and it is very very easy to do it incorrectly. The only way I would consider allowing anyone to attach a lunge rein to a horse now is if it were inside a round pen. I free “lunge” my horses, starting as yearling, when it would be positively dangerous to actually lunge an animal, and just letting them run round, putting in a few commands, and teaching them to change directions, then as they get older and can take the strain I use the round pen for more exercise and training.
I suppose there are still a few people around who do not have access to a round pen, or are not prepared to build one- in which case I would suggest long reining, not lungeing, as you have control of both side of the horse. Either way you are correct, this should be done in a cavesson- it is where the word came from, after all, (not just a noseband!!) and a correctly fitted one, too- a pony will take a different size, just as it does with a bridle. These things are easy to find and easy to buy, so I have no idea why people do not do it. It is not an American thing, either, I see people here, all the time, lungeing in a halter or even a bridle (because, of course “he is hard to control” and a bit is SO the way to get extra control!!) and it annoys me no end.
Thanks for your International input. You are correct of course. Forgive my poor attempt at humor by addressing a personal idiosyncrasy – quirk/pet peeve, if you will. And while you are correct that the audience is wider and more varied, the technical numbers being spewed at me now show that the vast majority of viewers (well over 90%) are on the North American continent at this time. I will, however, try harder to consider all, or put additional warning that I’m making a ‘funny’.
I did not say full-cheek ‘snaffle’. I merely said ‘full-cheek’ to point out the cheek bars. Again, you are correct, it’s a Fulmer. We will disagree, however, that the Fulmer is the only full- cheek bit that bit keepers should be used on. For another time.
Mercedes, I’m with you on the spelling, which I am known to be compulsive about. “Longeing” is a word that means nothing else.
I’m so damn glad we have a new destination for our online horsey fix.
Yay! Nice to know I’m not alone in the world. 🙂
I realise your humour is involved, this is YOUR blog and it has been a personal one until now- I appreciate your generosity in opening it up to us this way.
As to the snaffle- there is no discussion, the Full Cheek should never be used with keepers- you have only to look at where that would put the joint (straight in the roof of the mouth) Of course, if you have dug out, (or up) another, hither to unheard of or forgotten, bit that is not a Full Cheek or Fulmer- bring it on!!! Love to hear about it….
As hoo4hearted has said;
2) to add poll pressure
3) so that the bit does not rotate in the mouth, thus changing the position of the cheek pieces and rendering them useless
4) so that the bit does not rotate in the mouth, thus changing how the center piece sits in the mouth causing discomfort; such as with a French link no longer sitting properly in the mouth
5) so that the horse cannot move the bit in the bit seat, rotate it and then ignore the rider
I disagree, vehemently and wholeheartedly, that using bit keepers cause the joint of the bit to go straight up into the roof of the mouth. If that is happening, then the bit is a piece of crap and poorly made with the cheek pieces not correctly orientated to the joint/joints of the bit.
I recently started using a french link baucher bit, which has a similar action as the full cheek but is dressage legal. My mare loves the bit. It’s thinner than the KK french link we used before and I feel guilty that I didn’t notice before that she probably has a low palate and that’s why she was always busy with her mouth in the KK. I would recommend this bit to anyone with a big necked drafty horse, which is what I’m saddled with. 🙂
You can use bit keepers with other full cheek bits. They’re used to add poll pressure as well as to keep the bit in the right position.
Of course Mercedes wouldn’t know what we might call lungeing and how we might spell lungeing in civilised parts. She’s foreign! 😉
Darn it.. can’t edit but using keepers with a full cheek bit is also a safety thing… stops the bit getting hooked up on stuff.
No, using keepers on anything except a loose ringed Fulmer is not only incorrect it is barbaric. It is not meant, was never meant, to have keepers on it and, to quote, if it needs keepers it is a piece of crap- you obviously have the wrong bit! Just do a little research on the origins of the bit- then look at the mouth of a child’s pony, as I did that had an eggbutt full cheek with keepers on it. Poor animal. Not a crap bit a top of the range, stainless, uber expensive, bit. There is a video floating on youtube, somewhere, of the skeletal head of a horse showing you exactly what happens inside- I could see what was happening outside for myself! The trouble with quite a lot of you is that you have not been around long enough to understand or know for yourself, form experience, what bits were originally intended for which purpose, but you have research capabilities that are well beyond anything I dreamt of at your age, or could probably manage to use, now. Use them…
This is exactly why I didn’t want to bother discussing the topic. It requires more than comment boxes. Not sure what a child’s pony mouth has to do with it other than a child riding a pony is likely not an example of an equine accepting bit contact etc… But it makes no sense to support the fixed position of the Fulmer with keepers and not the fixed position of full-cheeks with keepers. The orientation of the bars to the joints is EXACTLY the SAME in both bits. The difference between the two comes down to loose rings vs d-ring/eggbutt rings, the same as if we were talking loose ring snaffle vs d-ring/eggbutt snaffle. The full-cheek with the solid rings simply adds more poll pressure. So, again, makes no sense to say only a Fulmer should have bit keepers to keep the bit orientated a certain way in the mouth, but that the same designed full-cheek with bit keepers to keep the bit orientated a certain way in the mouth is barbaric. Either both bits are barbaric, or neither are.
Very fascinating. You must be so ancient you’ve forgotten what you don’t know!
Mercedes, what are your thoughts on longeing using a rope halter? I used to use a caveson way back in the day, but mine disappeared and they’re awfully hard to find in tack stores so I never replaced it. Ive never liked longeing in a conventional halter but a rope halter, done up snugly, seems not to have the flaws of a regular halter. A rope halter is my go-to headgear for most groundwork these days. I’m not a big “natural horsemanship” fan otherwise but I find the rope halter a very useful bit of gear.
I have never used a rope halter, so my opinion is based only on what I have observed. Rope halters appear to have significantly more ‘bite’ than standard halters. That makes me of the opinion that most people shouldn’t be using them. If you can’t lead a horse in a regular halter, you’ve got no business doing it in a rope halter; in the same vein, if you can’t ride your horse in a snaffle bit, you’ve got no business riding it in a curb bit; if you can’t ride your horse without spurs, you’ve got no business riding with spurs… I hold to that philosophy in most things in life.
A snuggly fitted one would certainly fall more in line with a longeing cavesson. The biggest difference then is where the line is attached; bottom for the rope halter, top for the longeing cavesson. The unique attachment of the line on the longeing cavesson is significantly advantageous, imo.
I would, therefore, rank a rope halter’s effectiveness definitely above that of a regular halter, but still falling short of the longeing cavesson. The other thing is that I feel that the opportunity for abuse is greater with a rope halter than with a longeing cavesson and that’s always a concern of mine.
Cavessons are readily available to purchase over the internet… you don’t even need to leave your chair.
Why do you think a rope halter would be any better/different to say a well fitted leather one?
A rope halter is an effective tool for lunging (sorry, it’s always been “u” for me too) if used properly. It need not be a “insert clinician name” halter either, as long as it’s adjusted properly – high enough not to come down on sensitive cartilage. The use is similar to a cavesson in that a wave is sent down the rope to the nose to ask for a response from the horse. You also want to use a round rope with some heft to it, I find flat lunge lines completely ineffective and they tangle like crazy. A horse should always have its head straight or to the inside of the circle and should never be leaning on a halter or cavesson. I want a horse to lunge with the same manners that I would expect up on its back, no bucking, leaning or silliness and totally agree on the whoa being STRAIGHT. At first they will turn in (from the pull) but it’s easy to fix by teaching shoulders over by applying energy to the front end and asking for a crossover. The most underused ‘tool’ for lunging horses is the use of space and energy. A horse needs to read the handler’s body language and the handler shouldn’t have to go outside of a hoola hoop sized circle to control the horse. One step, 6″ from center, should be reacted upon by the horse. It means something. Major pet peeve when I see horses being chased around by ignorant people like so many in your youtube examples. My hair stood on end listening to the racket with flying hands and waving whips with the red horse being chased over the jumps, or around them…. Yikes.
hoo4hearted, have you used a rope halter? If you’ve used one it should seem clear why it would be different from a leather halter and better for longeing. Fits much closer to the face than even a very-well fitting conventional halter, so it doesn’t slip around, and being quite a bit thinner, it adds more pressure (more “bite” as Mercedes put it) so offers more control.
And yes, I realize I could just buy another cavesson from Ebay or something, not seeing them around in stores these days isn’t really excuse… but I already spend enough on horses and have tack overflowing every storage area, so I’d rather not buy a specialized piece of equipment if something that I already own gets the job done.
Not to be over-picky, but the word is “snug-ly” — the adverb formed from the adjective snug, which means closely fitted. “Snuggly” is the adjective formed from the verb “snuggle,” which means to get all cuddly and cozy with someone or something. You have added the extra g a couple of times now!
Mercedes, where would you point someone interested in learning more about traditional longeing? I would really like to start using a longeing cavesson, but I am quite ignorant of all the in’s and out’s of this particular method.
Any good trainer will also do lessons in lungeing and long-reining. Dressage and driving instructors in particular use those methods as fundamental training.
Definitely the SRS. I believe that Arthur Kottas talks about longeing the horse in Part 1 of his Art of Classical Dressage DVD/Video collection, but it’s been years since I’ve seen those. Sometimes you can rent them. Worth a look no matter what.
Anything written by the greats about it, Alois Podhajsky, Reiner Klimke, Walter Zettl, Arthur Kottas… Zettle and Kottas, I believe, still do clinics in NA, so if you can go to one, you can get questions answered directly. The last Kottas clinic I attended, we actually got to see him work a couple of horses on the longe line, and I remember the perturbed look on his face when the first horse was brought to him in a halter. He immediately snugged up the halter and went on a diatribe about using proper equipment, and how do you expect the horse to learn and respond, etc…
I learned from a woman who was a student of a former Master Rider from the SRS. Very traditional, longeing started with two people, and all the way down to how the line is coiled and held in your whip hand. So ask around locally, particularly at Dressage barns. Most won’t have had the instruction, but you can start by asking them who they learned from and you might get lucky. You could ask to sit in on a longeing lesson being given to another client and if they don’t pull out the longeing cavesson right off, you’ll know to leave. 🙂
I’m sorry I can’t be more help. I’m not aware of any books specifically about longeing by a traditionalist and I’ve not read any of the longeing books that are available. If you can’t have personal hands-on instruction then video instruction is the next best and way better than book instruction.
I never lunge a horse wearing just a headcollar. Hence the comment I made in my opening post.
The leather headcollars I use are well fitting and don’t slip around though.
The rope ones I’ve used aren’t thin and had you said a “well fitted Thin rope halter” as opposed to a leather one that’s too big, I’d have appreciated the reason why you thought there might be a difference in the effect !
Sorry it never occurred to me you were asking about the blinding bleeding obvious!
Buy a cavesson, don’t buy a cavesson – your choice!
Again sorry I thought when you said they were hard to find that’s what you meant. I didn’t realise it was really because you were too cheap to spend $20 on a piece of equipment to do the job properly.
I believe what Chestnut mare stated is that she had equipment that is getting the job done so why buy a cavesson? It’s like people thinking that only a carrot stick can create forward/lateral movement when a lunge or buggy whip will work just was well. If it works, stick with it. My horses all work in rope halters whether lunging, tying or ground manner training. They’re cheap, effective, fit a variety of horses and can even be used for the first few rides. I switched an OTTB from halter/chain over nose to rope halter on day two of her life with me, the chain hasn’t been on since and she’s soft and respectful without all the hardware. Don’t knock a cheap rope halter if you’ve never used one.
To be clear: I didn’t ask how a rope halter compares to a leather halter. I asked Mercedes what she thought of longeing in a rope halter, and I assumed (perhaps that was my error) that it was clear that I meant as compared to a cavesson, since the post was about cavessons. Mercedes answered my question, she said that she thought a rope halter would be more effective than a regular halter but not as effective as a cavesson.
You’re the one who asked why I thought a rope halter would be any different than a well-fitted regular halter. Which surprised me a little because I thought that was obvious and I still wonder if, due to being in different locations on the planet, we are picturing the same item of tack when we say a “rope halter”. I’ve never seen one that wasn’t much thinner and much snugger-fitting than a conventional halter (of either nylon or leather) which is why I didn’t bother to specify a thin, well-fitting rope halter. Rope halters are also something I associated with western horsemanship more so than English and I have the impression from your word usage that you’re in England or Europe so it wouldn’t surprise me if we weren’t picturing the same item when we wrote our posts.
As for the cavesson that I lost years ago and haven’t replaced, it’s not that I’m too cheap to buy another piece of tack, but that I’m not going to go out of my way to do so when something I already own does the job. I think a rope halter is just as good of a tool for longeing as a cavesson. Others may disagree. I’m always interested in other people’s opinions (which is why I asked Mercedes what she thought), but I don’t run out and change how I do things based on what any one person on the internet says, I take those opinions and let them slosh around in my head with all my other sources of information.
Very good article. I don’t agree so much on the spelling thing, as I was always taught/educated by long time horses people/sources (such as encyclopedias) that it is spelled ‘lungeing’, ‘lunge’, ‘lunged’.
What I -don’t- like is the video of the yearling being lunged in too tight a circle over a jump… It’s a friggin baby for crying out loud. I would never encourage that kind of thing. The jumping + tight circle puts a lot of strain on those young legs. Definitely a no-no.
I bought a caveson about 20 years ago, never used it so sold it recently! Now I sure wish I hadn’t. Big used tack sale coming up in a couple of weeks – I will look for another. Then I will be asking for instruction on it’s use! Very interesting.
You can’t and you shouldn’t learn how to lunge, or longrein by book or video. Consider that I’m saying this having actually had a book published on the very subject! Albeit that started with salient and cautionary words of advice along the lines 😉 of “don’t try this at home”
It’s a practical physical skill and whilst you can well learn what equipment you ought to be using and why and the principles and theory of where to stand and what to do that’s as far as it will take you.
You need to go to a trainer who’ll teach you how and the practical application and so you can see what might work and if something doesn’t what you might need to do and you need to have lessons and then commence under supervision.
Well this is timely. California Horsetrader’s March 7 issue has an article on this very subject. Lunging. It is not on their site yet, but all articles by this local trainer, under “Hey Ray”, are published on their site. It should come up within the next few weeks. I would like to hear your thoughts on his approach to lunging horses.
Sure. When it’s available online send the link to: email@example.com and I’ll read it and start a new article about it and we can discuss it.
I wouldn’t know how to do that, and anyway, maybe it is a better idea to discuss it here. These are from the article.
The question is “Why do some horses pull and others don’t? How do I stop this tug of war?”
The challenge here will not only be having your horse flex laterally without resistance but also being able to do it while moving forward through all the gaits with freedom. It doesn’t matter whether you use a lunging cavason or a halter. What is important, is that you use the kind of headgear that gives you leverage to make an impression if needed. Preparing the horse for lunging has nothing to do with lunging the horse. It’s easier to push the hind end away from you, than to pull the front end around you when trying to influence direction. When you are lunging, the horse is pulling on you. Pulling back only perpetuates the problem. Lunge the horse one or two feet away from you. The moment you feel resistance in your hand, push his hindquarters to the outside of the circle while resisting with your hands. When he makes the attempt to cross over and out with his hindquarters, his head will turn in toward you, releasing the pressure of the line in your hands. At that moment, feed him more line and drive him forward back on to the circle, but be careful not to unsettle him. That way he has a better chance of getting the picture you are trying to paint.
It’s all about getting that breakthrough. Continue this process every time you feel you horse leaning on your hands. This will teach him that looking toward you while slightly stepping out behind is more comfortable than leaning on the line. As he becomes more aware of the benefits of not leaning and pulling on the line, while walking or trotting closely around you, moving into a bigger circle should be part of the reward.
At the first signs of leaning, capture that pressure in your hand and-without losing it-simply reel him in slowly but consistently until he remembers the lesson. When he does, and he will, immediately put him back in a big circle. He will soon associate lightening up with big circles and big circles with being on the right track. This will become a self-rewarding system for your horse. Because bigger circles are easier to travel on than small ones, the horse will soon be motivated to do whatever is needed to be let out on the the big circle. Don’t attempt working at the canter with this exercise until the walk and trot are easy and clear for your horse.
Horses ‘lean’ on the line because they are unbalanced, the same as they do undersaddle. The biggest reason for the lack of balance on the longe line is that the circle is too small, causing the horse to brace, lean on the inside shoulder, escape out through the haunch, counter bend, unequally weight the feet etc…
Other reasons for leaning are a lack of forwardness, and being hollow and heavy on the forehand. Again, the same as what occurs under saddle.
The method being presented is exactly not how I would do it and may actually lead to the horse learning how to brace and evade, since the horse can not actually physically comply with the bend required to be balanced on such small circles, and thus not lean.
I don’t even put the horse on the circle until the horse will walk several feet (15-20) away from me on straight and shallow bending lines, and respond to basic body, voice, rein and whip aids including halting when asked. Then the horse is introduced to 1/4 and 1/2 circle arcs at this distance, before finally being put on a BIG circle; no less than 20m in size. This is all done at the walk.
Quite frankly, I’ve never actually had a horse that leaned on the longe line, and I’ve retrained some pretty spoiled, beligerent individuals.
OK, my first (but not only) thought was that “hey ray”s way was dangerous. When I am round penning or lunging, (I have taught 2 horses to lunge in my life, unlike Strawberry Shortcake, my ancient cavason in still in my barn if I ever need it) I keep in mind a “safety zone” even with my old pony. Having the horse constantly going 2 feet from me out to the circle and back is inside my “safety zone”.
You make a good point. My focus is typically ‘horse first’ (that’s something people will come to know the longer this blog is up. I’m ‘for’ the horse, first and foremost, unless innocents (children or elders) are involved) so I hadn’t even gotten to the human safety issue. In truth, I sort of figure, if you think this is how a horse should be started on longeing, you deserve to get bumped, kicked or runover a time or two. *shrug*
Trailrider20, that was my thought as well. Working with the horse one or two feet away sounds like you’re right in the zone to be kicked or knocked over if something spooks that horse. Not to mention how hard all those small circles would be on the horse.
Yea, I thought it was relevant, because part of this post was “the dying art of longing”.
I wanted to come up with new names for these videos, like “How to break your baby” (as in how to break their legs, and maybe your lawn furniture too!) or maybe the third one could be like a hidden puzzle game, “How many things can you find wrong with this picture?” Like, dog eating poop, pitch fork leaning against a water trough and some sort of hay wagon contraption in the middle of the paddock where the woman is attempting to ‘lunge’. I see so many ways to get yourself, or more importantly your animals hurt in that one!
🙂 I wanted to do the same thing, My Alice.
Just a quick note for anyone looking to purchase one or read up on them further: assuming I’m looking at these properly (and correct me if I’m wrong!) one style of these is also known as Serreta cavessons and are most commonly found nowadays with the baroque style trainers. They are used in training and presenting Andalusians and sometimes Friesians. I first saw them a couple of years ago with a Spanish Andalusian trainer here in Texas I had the benefit of learning from and he used them for exactly the purposes Mercedes described.
As Mercedes said, these come in a variety of materials and styles and if you order one online, be mindful of that! There are very light, all leather training cavessons with the nose rings as well as serretas with solid or jointed metal nose bands wrapped in leather and everything in between. These can have quite a bit of bite when not adjusted and used properly, so please be aware of the differences when purchasing. That said, they have become a favorite tool of mine once I got the finesse for them and I was pleasantly surprised to see an article about them!
The seretta is the noseband that’s studded on the inside. I’ve seen them in Spain and Austria. They can come with dreadful metal studs like something more suited on a hell’s angel’s jacket!
I own (and use!) three longeing cavessons. They are different sizes and fit differently proportioned heads. I added a browband to one to improve how it sat.
“Longe” is an anglicised French word. If it is good enough for WAZ and DeNemethy, it’s good enough for me! As someone said above: it has only one meaning and cannot be confused, I cannot see “lunge” used in this context without picturing a fencer (and not the electric kind) skewering a horse on a foil.
So glad that I found you. I thought that we were going to see some good longeing videos. While sitting here having my morning coffee I clicked on the first one and after hearing me say WTFing Christ, my husband said why do you watch these things when it upsets you so much? LOL, the others were not much better.
Hehe! As I said to someone else, had I been able to find some good examples I planned to use them. Welcome to Hooves! And be prepared next time when I say ‘some of my favorites’ – there’s a very good chance I’m being sarcastic. 🙂
The more I read and learn, the more pleased I am that I found the riding instructor I did. I spent my first month with her just grooming horses and cleaning tack. After that I got a few basic lessons at the walk and starting the posting trot, and then — when I was all excited to ride ride ride — she handed me a longe line and cavesson and told me I was to spend the next two weeks on the ground, learning longeing basics. It’s something I still do before every ride.
The longeing goof that bothers me is watching people walk after their horse. I guess they’re trying to provide impulsion that way. But the whole point is to have the horse learn to bend through his body and move correctly and steadily. For that, you have to maintain the circle. My instructor generously offered to nail my boot to the ground if I stepped off my pivot foot.
All the hollering and whip-cracking in those videos just confirms what my instructor says: “The worst trainers make the most noise.”
Education is key here. I grew up in a rather remote area and learned a lot of my first horse knowledge from local cowboys and trainers. One or two were actually very good with horses. But I had never seen nor heard of a longeing cavesson until I went to college! I think it’s key for people here to USE them and introduce them to the next generation.
I am embarrassed to admit that as a lifelong lesson student, I have never had the occasion to do any longeing (as a French student I prefer that spelling, too). I never knew the technical advantages of a purpose-built cavesson so this is fascinating! When I finally get my own horse, I will definitely invest in one.