Longlining question

I thought I understood long lining as a concept, though I’ve never done it. You have a line on each ring of the bit. The lines go through a fairly high surcingle ring for stability. You can either be right behind the horse or on a longe circle with the outside rein over the horses back. Or should you? Is there a reason to be on a longe circle? If you are on a longe circle should the inside line be through the surcingle or just direct to the bit?

I’ve been watching someone cook up their own modification. Fairly tight fixed siderein on one side, outside. Plus the outside long line, through the surcingle on the outside then wrapped around horse’s gaskins, and back through the inside surcingle. And then the inside long line through the surcingle acting as a draw rein to the handler.

Perhaps what this really is, is a homemade Pessoa system? The ammie owner and leaser call it longlining.

It is having no good effect as far as I can see, just getting the horses into a compressed swan neck.

My DYI barn is a great place for observing many techniques :slight_smile: and my general rule of thumb is MYOB unless asked. But it’s good to get a reality check once in a while.

Hmm. Not sure on that backyardigan pessoa system.

You can be right behind the horse, or on a circle with the outside rein over the back. Or behind the hindquarters. It really depends on the horse’s level of schooling and the purpose of long lining.

For horses green to long-lining I usually opt to thread the outside rein over the back, versus around the hind quarters. I will add around the hindquarters once I feel they are established long-liners.

I typically start by driving from behind (with a helper walking besides if needed). Graduate to long-lining different gaits on a circle, and then being wherever I need to be depending on what we are working on. For UL movements you typically are pretty close or directly behind. Not that I ever do any of that.

I prefer long-lining because it is essentially “riding” from the ground, whereas lunging is just having a horse go around in a circle. You have much more finesse, can do half-halts (with a “go” cue), can ask for higher level movements, even things like lateral work.

I feel you on the DIY barns and their inventions. I truck into a barn that is right across the road from me in the winter. It’s anything goes, no-man’s-land there but I tend to just stick to one side of the area and work my horse and go home. I am not going to lie, the big reason I come here is because it is guaranteed to be a great desensitization lesson for my green horses.


I use long lining for ground driving with a youngster that isn’t being ridden yet (or an older horse on a break from riding for whatever reason) so they can get out and about in the world in a way that is more similar to riding (like @beowulf said) - then I am behind and slightly to one side (out of kicking range). I also long line on a circle with the outside rein from bit, through surcingle, and around the hindquarters because I feel it allows me to better half halt on the outside and to remind the horse not to swing their hindquarters outside the circle (compared to having the outside line come over the back). Obviously, this set up in introduced gradually so they are not freaked out with the line around their butt. The inside line typically goes from the bit, to the surcingle, to my hand because I feel contact that way is less unbalancing than coming straight from the bit to my hand. This set up also allows me to change directions without stopping and changing the reins.

These are wellbroke former harness horses (fine about random straps) that run on the forehand and dont have great canter. I think the entire rig is to teach collection and how to “use their hind end.” So more a Pessoa rig intention I guess.

The riders are sticky seat but not very finessed in aids.

Seems like an Equiband or correct riding would work for this.

I second what Beowulf said.

I also have a set of shorter lines for ground driving in the forest and fields. It helped give my insecure horse a bit more confidence being out front.

I long line without or with a surcingle. Depends on the horse and what I am doing. If I am essentially lunging with long lines I prefer to put the outside rein through a suitable ring on the surcingle, keep the rein over the back, and just attach my inside rein directly. That’s what worked for my horse initially. Now he’s fine in whatever set up since we’ve been doing it for years.

I always desensitize them to the lines first. Toss them around a bit, roll them up next to the horse, and generally mine are trained not to panic when they step on their lead rope so the same applies for long lines. I’ve never gotten into such a situation, but if the horse did break away from the handler it’s best if it knows to stop when it steps on the lines or gets tangled.

I would never long line the way the people at your stable are though. Really odd.

I longline and ground drive in rope halters and western saddles usually.

Right line is threaded through the stirrup up to the right side of the halter or bridle. Left stays on the left. If I longline on a circle and stand in the middle, I leave them through the stirrups, but bring the outside line up and over the seat of the saddle.

I don’t usually LL or ground drive in surcingles as they are just not steady without being cranked so tight. They get pulled forward or fall back. I can never seem to get it just right. The saddle solves that issue.

I also don’t put the lines up high like that. I don’t want to see a horse’s head cranked in and high, getting behind the vertical. I’d rather keep the lines low and with some softness/slack to encourage my horses to move long and low on the lines.

Here’s a link to my Youtube video of my last filly I broke to ground drive.

IMHO this gets into the difference between long lining (lunging with 2 reins), and ground driving.

Long lining, where you’re in the “middle” somewhere, allows you to work the horse on a circle, or alternating curvier and straight lines, while having active control/connection with the outside rein, just as if you were riding. That’s why you use the high surcingle ring, to better mimic hand position.

Whether the outside line comes over the back, or behind the gaskins, depends. Like Beowulf said, across the gaskins gives you better control of the greenie’s tendency to swing haunches out, encourage body-bending as opposed to just neck bending while you’re making curves, and you have to be careful not to have a great deal of tension there of it’s going to bump the outside mouth with every stride. I would make sure the horse lunges well first.

When the outside rein comes over the back, that’s much more aligned with how the reins feel when ridden

I think this gets into what you’re trying to accomplish. Through a higher surcingle ring is more approximating of the hand, but it does give you a LOT more leverage so you have to be careful of that. Directly from bit to handler is closer to regular lunging, while still having that outside rein contact. This setup requires a change in how things are set when you change direction. I see it more as maybe some corrective work (not entirely sure what that might be) rather than a working setup

That is most definitely not traditional long lining. IME, the Pessoa system and similar setups are TERRIBLE, as there is no way for the horse to work without banging his mouth every step. The hind end should never be physically connected to the mouth. Ever.

I’ve asked many, many times over many years to see a horse working properly in a Pessoa rig, and nobody can provide one. The rear lines are either set “properly” and see-sawing the mouth, however lightly (meaning there is NO quiet steady contact, or the line is so loose it’s not impacting the mouth but then neither is it having the allegedly desired effect on the hind end.

EquiBand and similar setups are MUCH better for that - hind end, period


Ok that distinction between long lining and driving really makes sense. I suppose intent factors in too. I think that for the folks I’m observing, collection = headset. They have long lines around the gaskins plus independent side reins and are just working trot canter on circles.

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I should say that I introduce a green bean to ground driving I do it with the lines lower on the sides (which can be through stirrups that I prefer to at least lightly tie to the girth do they don’t swing out).

This is so that when they are learning to steer, they have a line contacting their haunch to keep them from swinging their butt to the outside, and when that line is on the inside of the new direction as you’re asking them to turn, it can help teach them to step up and out with the new inside leg, just as your leg would ask them to do, rather than just pulling themselves around the curve with their front end.

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Probly helps the “headset”…hahahahahahah
But sadly, more of an accident waiting to happen.