Saturday, April 18, 2015

werk that line, mare!

So remember that thing that has been on my to-do list for ages and ages - since December, actually? You win a cookie if you guessed long lining! 

(Wait, you mean nobody remembered that??)

Well it finally happened! Yay!! The weather was glorious and my horse isn't quiiite ready for working under saddle... but she *can* start light light light work - so. What more of a reason did I need? Plus, when I asked barn mate N (our resident long lining aficionado) if I could borrow her lines, she actually volunteered to show me the ropes (hee hee). I was actually quite impressed with Isabel too - she showed right up with her thinking cap firmly in place. It's not known if she's ever done this before, but no matter, she was very very good. I can't exactly say she wasn't braced or tense, bc she was. But it wasn't about resistance or the 'I don't wannas.' Rather, we were asking her to move in a new and different (and, coincidentally, more correct) manner and it was a little difficult for her. (Have I mentioned just how crooked this horse is? Bc she's pretty crooked...)


I let N kick things off with the lines since she actually knows what she's doing. Meanwhile I asked approximately 8 million questions (and took just as many pictures... do zillions of pics make walking on a circle for an hour look interesting?? bc... there's that many in this post and they all pretty much look exactly the same haha).

She started by walking alongside Isabel in big sweeping circles while Isabel sorted out what in the fresh hell it was we wanted her to do now. Once the 'go' button and steering worked, N drew it into a fairly small-ish circle, maybe 10m, and stayed stationary in the center. She said it's ok for the horse to go as slow as it needs to - and it CAN sputter to a stop, then you just ask it to start walking again. No racing here.

She explained the general mechanics of what she was doing. The inside line should always be straight and taut, with that hand anchored at your side. The outside line (which goes behind the horse's legs) can give or take and that hand is mobile. So when the inside line goes slack you increase tension on the outside. When the inside line is taut you give with the outside. 

And it's ok for the horse to be counterbent (Isabel was, actually, for most of it) as that's a sign that they have some unevenness in their pelvis that they need to level out. We're just supposed to focus on the lines.

It's actually very similar to holding the reins while riding, and when it was my turn I had the same exact issues I always have haha. Like floating my inside elbow forward when it was supposed to remain steadily in place. And not getting the timing quite right with giving the reins... Plus oddly enough I could feel myself collapsing through my core on one side or the other the same as I do while riding too... inneresting. 

N also told me a bit about what she looks for in the horses while they go - different muscle groups letting go of tension and relaxing.She learned all this from our bio-mechanics trainer, with whom she's been riding for many years - so it was actually a mini lesson for me. N couldn't quite describe how the muscles change when they're relaxed (tho she knows it when she sees it), but did say that 'jiggling is good.'But really, Isabel was quite good and settled into a slow but seriously engaged and over-tracking rhythmic walk. N didn't have any preference about starting on good side v. bad, and randomly chose to track left - the easier side. She spent a good while letting Isabel sort herself out before handing the lines to me. I didn't make too much of a muddle of it, and got pretty close to the 'objective' of having Isabel travel a couple laps with the inside line remaining evenly taut (we got about 3/4 of a lap. close enuff). So I passed the lines back to N so she could show me how to turn the horse around (not actually very complicated) and get started on Isabel's tougher direction.Going right was definitely more difficult for Princess and N pointed out that she really wants to fall in more (you don't say!). So I let them sort it out and when they achieved a better degree of relaxation over Isabel's back, we let it be done with that. Isabel was in an excellent mental state the whole time - really trying and processing and thinking. I didn't want to mess that up by giving her a rougher go in her tough direction relative to how N handled her. So N ended on a relaxed note, with Isabel coming to a soft, round, and shockingly-close-to-square halt all on her very own.So I think we'll try this again. All in all we spent about an hour doing it, and Isabel never threw a fit or got bored or too distracted (just once - the earlier pic w her head straight up when some deer ran by). Plus, by the end her whole body was nice and warm, but not hot or sweaty, and she wasn't breathing very heavily and hadn't coughed once. N recommended that we start tracking right next time tho - and that we should really focus on getting more relaxation through Isabel's back in that direction. By the end, Isabel had moments, but nothing consistent. The idea is that the more you do it, the better the horse understands what you're doing, and the easier it becomes to find that relaxation and looseness. Have you ever long lined your horse? Or do you use other ground work methods for similar results? Lunging, side reins, etc?

18 comments:

  1. Because I drive as well as ride I have done a reasonable amount of long lining. If I was just starting with a horse new to it I would be using either a surcingle/roller or my stirrups to keep the lines sorted. There have been more than a few wrecks in the world from the long lines becoming tangled and the horse panicking and running. Also, as it takes you firmly in the kick zone a helmet is a great idea. All that said, have fun, it is a great way to work on straightness.

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    1. great points - thanks! my mare needs all the help with straightness that she can get lol

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  2. Keep us updated. This is so cool! Would love to incorporate long-lining into auto's work!

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    1. i will for sure - already a few days later and i think i'm seeing some positive benefits from it !

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  3. That is so cool! I have always wanted to learn to long line as well. I haven't come across anyone experienced with it to learn from. Awesome lesson. Go you!

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    1. it was definitely very helpful to have someone there to show me how... esp to tell me what the specific objectives were and how to hold the lines etc

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  4. Oh interesting! I hope there are further posts about this, I want my young horses to start long lining this summer :)

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    1. that's good motivation to keep me doing it haha

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  5. That's neat you guys are trying this! Isabel is such a good girl! She looks great! I worked Max in side reigns the last month and it really helped us work out an understanding of relaxing and accepting collection without giving up forward (it was a constant either/or conversation for us under saddle). Looking forward to reading more about her progress!

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    1. it really is a constant 'conversation' like you say - and i think it was helpful for isabel to sort it out without me in the saddle. side reins also seem like something that could help us - but again i'm hesitant to try them without some guidance lol

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  6. I've heard so many great things about long lining. I need someone to teach me! Seems Isabel liked it, and it looks like more fun than hand walking.

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    1. wayyy more fun than hand walking - and more productive too, i think

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  7. I've never tried long lining, but I've lunged a lot as you read on my blog. I have learned to look for similar things when lungeing, mostly relaxation. I'm starting to recognized when they are relaxed and without tension too. I'd love to read more about long lining! It's something I've only seen in pictures and I know next to nothing about it(except what you wrote and that it is used to start driving horses).

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    1. i love reading about all your lunging activities, and very cool that you're developing an eye for seeing their relaxation. lunging hasn't typically been great for isabel bc she tends to get distracted and zip around like a speed demon. having that second line helps keep her focused and on track

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  8. I long line occasionally. I don't love doing it, but I will if I think they need it. How cool that you're learning it though! I'm glad that she was so good about it. It really can be helpful :)

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    1. she was really so good - i was so pleased with her! i'm hoping the results will translate to a straighter horse under saddle, but we'll see!

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  9. Sounds like a perfect way to get your girl back into work without overdoing it! I've lunged Addy a couple times when I think she needs to get some ants out of her pants before I get on, but we don't really do it consistently. She understands commands and behaves like a lady, but because the goal is always to let her play and run around, we don't worry too much about relaxation. It would be cool to do some more ground work with her!

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    1. haha yea if nothing else, the long lining was the perfect low-impact work to get her started again! definitely a very different activity then letting them get the bucks out tho haha...

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