May 30, 2016

Introducing Side-reins on the Longe Line

Yesterday Gentry had a new first. I longed him in side-reins! I don't know why I haven't done it sooner, I should have. However, as I have been working with him on contact lately, I suddenly remembered my side-reins, and thought it would be helpful for him to sort out contact without human error involved.
Longeing in side-reins, at the walk

As this was Gentry's first time in side-reins, I took it slow and properly introduced them to him. Here is what I did.

Introducing Side-reins to Gentry:

  1. Gather the proper equipment: Bridle, longeing caveson, rubber donut side-reins, training surcingle, German style swivel longe line, and longe whip.
  2. Put the longeing caveson on over the top of the bridle with reins twisted and secured with the throat-latch, or removed.
  3. Attach longe line to the top ring on the longeing caveson. I like the swivel end snap kind because the line does not get twisted up.
  4. Attach side-reins to the bit and to the low ring on the surcingle. Initially set them to the longest setting available. Always have the side-reins the same length on each side. I like the rubber donut side-reins because they provide give.
  5. Ask the horse to walk, and let them get familiar with the side-reins. Let the horse take their time and work through it. The horse may initially halt when they feel the pressure from the rein, until they learn to stretch down onto the bit. Gentrly ask them to walk-on, don't allow them to halt, but don't make them over react either. It is important to take this step slow so that they do not get overwhelmed with the pressure and rear up.
  6. Once the horse is comfortable with the reins, ask for the trot.
  7. Once the horse is comfortable at the walk and trot, shorten the side-reins a bit. Not as short as you will eventually use them in training, but just a bit more for them to get the feel of them.
  8. Do this in both directions.
  9. Keep the first session short and easy. Give lots of pets and cookies!
That's really all there is to it. I've never had a bad experience using this method. However, I have heard horror stories of horses being longed in side-reins, which is why I take it really slow at first and only ever use this method. Using the longeing caveson to introduce side-reins is key, because it keeps the pressure of the longeline off the bit. You don't want he longeline to interfere with the pressure that is coming from the side-reins to the bit. That will confuse the horse. Eventually, once my horse is well trained and used to side-reins, I will longe them in full tack and off the bit, if I am longeing before I ride. Generally, if I am just longing and not riding I always longe with the caveson and surcingle. 
Longeing in side-reins, at the trot

The Results:

After our 20-minute longe line session, I hopped on Gentry for a ride. It was like magic. Even with the side-reins longer than they "should" or eventually will be for proper training, he got something out of his little longe lesson. I was really impressed with how much he sought out contact compared to our previous rides. There was basically no fight about putting his head down, and he seemed to understand more clearly what I was asking him to do. He even had a little bit of foam on his mouth during the ride! That was a first. I am encouraged and definitely plan on longeing in the side-reins more often.

1 comment:

  1. I am like you and make sure there a very long to start and only shorten them gradually. Glad I found your blog because my Hubs and I also just bought a 5 acre farm. It is fun to find others on similar "adventures"



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