Many horse people understand that longeing is excellent for exercising horses, but few realize that both horse and rider benefit from this fantastic workout. Horse and rider develop better balance, strength, and confidence when riding on the longe line. A basic longe line exercise session should consist of a variety of drills. Remember to walk the horse one circle on the line between exercises.
- A safe round pen or arena
- A knowledgeable assistant to longe the horse
- Properly fitting saddle and bridle (don't forget to remove reins)
- Quality longe line
- A longe whip for the assistant to use
- Helmet for the rider
A proper warm up is essential for both horse and rider. Ask your assistant to longe the horse in a circle at a walk with you on its back. Rest your hands on your thighs or hips. Continue warming up for about 15 minutes.
Balance in 2-Point
The first exercise is all about balance in the 2-point. Move your body up into your 2-point position with the horse at a trot. You may want to grab the horse's mane to help balance yourself for the few circles. After you are comfortable, release the mane and hold both hands out to the side while maintaining the 2-point. Move your arms back in after three strides, and then back out after three more strides. Continue for about ten longe circles.
The sitting trot improves strength and confidence in the saddle. Move the horse up into a trot and instead of posting, remove your feet from the stirrups, and sit the trot. Remember to sit up straight, relax your buttocks, and follow the horse’s movement with your pelvic muscles while keeping contact between your inner thigh and the horse to absorb the motion.
The next exercise is a safety exercise that can help you while in the arena or on the trail. Pick up the sitting trot without stirrups once again. Get back into the rhythm of the trot. When you are comfortable, put your feet back into the stirrups. Practice doing this until you do not have to look down and can replace your feet within three strides. This exercise is useful if you ever lose your stirrups -- you can find them without stopping to regroup.
- Work only in an area with soft and even footing.
- Move the horse in a 40 to 60-foot diameter circle to maintain ligament health.
- Work the horse in both directions for the same amount of time.