Longing Around

I have stood and watched horseman work with horses on the end of a long rope for over half a century. It’s referred to as longeing which is derived from a French word for working a horse on the end of a long rope or cord. Some Westerners referred to it as gypping. The purpose of this type of training I suppose, is to help A horse learn to give to pressure, but when I see someone walking all around an arena, essentially being dragged by their horse I have to question “who’s learning what from who? “

The famous French classical trainers used a pillar, or pole, to do longe work. They also had a lot of spare people around to help them. A strong piece of headgear was placed on the horse, a cord attached to the ring on this piece of equipment known as a cavesson (which actually translates head – gear) and the horse was taught to move in a circle around the pole. At first the cord was very short, and an assistant would lead the horse around the pole, while the trainer managed the rope. Gradually the rope was lengthened, and the assistant moved away. The horse then was encouraged forward, limited by the rope wrapped around the pole, which was immovable. The horse then had no choice but to make only perfect circles around the pole, and over time, to yield to pressure, becoming lighter as time went on.

In the west, we refer to the pole as a snubbin’ post, and we work colts around it with a Hackamore. They learn a true circle, and they learn to follow their head, and “give” to pressure. They don’t learn to drag the trainer around, rather they learn to respect the superior strength of the pole, and they become softer in their responses, while learning to yield to pressure and bend through the body. With repetition they translate this soft “give” to the hand of the trainer. An illusion is created by the use of the pole; “Them little two-leggeds sure is strong! “

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