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Long-Reining the OTTB

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  • Long-Reining the OTTB

    Curious if anyone long-reins their OTTB. Mine is really good with contact under saddle but learned with a previous owner that lunging was for blowing off steam (to the point we just don't lunge him for fear he'll hurt himself). We tried him on side reins once- he was fine for a while and then decided he was done and very deliberately went over backwards. We have avoided side reins and lunging since and haven't really needed them. However, recently the vet recommended long longing to build up his back muscles for 2nd-3rd level. His conformation (croup to withers is basically straight across vs. uphill) makes it hard for him and he tends to compensate under saddle vs. using the right muscles and building them up. Anyone else run into this? What did you do?

    Just wanted to add- I don't think this is a ground-work issue. He has excellent manners on the ground and under saddle and the trainer I have is very skilled on the ground.

  • #2
    I frequently long line my TB, when there aren't a million jumps in our ring. In the winter I probably do it 1/x per week, or even for a few minutes before I get on.

    She also gets stiff in her back and hind end, esp in the SI region. It's a great way to loosen her up with out weight on the back. She's even started lateral movement in lines, actually better than under tack.

    The most important thing is still maintaining forward into the bridle. This you discovered with the sidereins when he when over backwards. Have a long driving whip to keep him moving forward. If you have no experience with long lining, please practice with another horse or have someone experienced try it the first time with your horse. The good thing about long lines is you can adjust the tension on the bit, on the fly. If he acts like he is going to go up, give him a little slack with the reins and quickly send him forward. Something you can't do with side reins.

    It is a skill, but can be learned. Good luck!

    “You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take.” - Wayne Gretsky


    • #3
      Yep. I like it better than lunging for the ones that don't bend well or overbend in one direction
      OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


      • #4
        I love long-lining my horses and use it as regularly as I can with most of them. I tried to do it with my OTTB early on in his training and he quite deliberately tried (unsuccessfully) to play cat's cradle with the long lines. I've never seen a horse so hell bent on wrapping himself up in the lines. And this from a horse who was totally content being lunged, ridden, and worked in just about any manner from the ground!

        I tried a couple of other times through the years, but he just isn't interested in it. And since he's jumping at the higher levels with me there's no reason to push it since he's good under saddle and on the lunge (i.e. willing to really work on the lunge, not just play).

        I don't think that his issue is related to being an OTTB, just related to his quirky brain It's a shame though, because there have been many times in his life where I think long lining would have worked much better for him than lunging.
        Flying F Sport Horses
        Horses in the NW


        • #5
          I do it with my energetic mare, Adelaide. Lunging just bores her, and me too! Long lining really helps Adelaide relax and settle. She'll be 7 this spring. I actually like it when there are jumps set up....we circle around them and do all sorts of patterns. Great fun, and a relaxing training session for a spicy OTTB!
          "Anti-intellect and marketing, pretty, pretty, who needs talent
          Crying eyes, we're so outnumbered, fight for the right to remain silent" Buck 65


          • #6
            Agree with the advice given by ET's Home. If you are not experienced long lining, get someone to help you. I love long lining horses and think it can be so beneficial. But, many horses get excited when they feel the long line across their backs and then against their hind legs. I always put a halter on over the bridle and have someone I trust lead the horse during the first session at least. Some horses settle in almost instantly and are not bothered by the reins. My OTTB mare was not so easy, and it took 3 or 4 sessions of having someone at her head. Even after that I always had to do things slowly and carefully when I wanted to change direction. Still highly recommend it, though.

            Editing to say that once your horse is trained to long line, you may actually find it much easier to longe him.


            • #7
              I went from lunging with side reins to long lining and cannot believe the difference in my mare (even though she is not a OTTB). But I will admit that it is harder for me than for her. It takes a lot more coordination on my part but luckily my mare is pretty patient with my mistakes. Good luck and have fun!
              We do not have an overpopulation of dogs, we have an under population of responsible dog owners!!!


              • #8
                Everytime I get one off the track, I start in the long lines. I like to work from the ground first to get used to MY voice commands, test their softness to the hands, etc. I think its kinda neat to get to watch them moving around in a nice working frame without having a rider in the way too

                Also good for those days you don't feel like getting all geared up to ride....slap on a few things on your horse and some gloves for yourself and you're ready to go

                I have 4 OTTBs currently and they all do it just fine. One gets a lil pissy about it, but you just have to work with her and she'll settle.
                Horse Drawings!


                • #9
                  My work with OTTB's has incorporated lots of trail riding, especially using hills (if you have them). I am blessed with long, fairly steep hills which really help build those muscles over the back and in the loins and helps them balance. Many OTTB's have never seen trails or hills, so they concentrate so much on the whole experience, it helps them forget about tension or anything but the effort at hand. It is also useful for strengthening their hocks, especially in the young ones that might slip a bit. Overall, the trail work is so beneficial to them emotionally as well - helping with relaxation, learning a good walk with swing, which gets their back to relax, thus the tension that is restrictive and counter productive melts away and allows them to soften through the topline and gain good muscling. I'm a big fan of getting out of the arena or even a big field, although you want to use that as well. The trails just get them to start reaching into the bit and stretching over the topline so when you come back and work some in the arena it's much more productive. I'm not that great at long-lining except to use it to start my babies so they learn about the aids and get used to me in a position such as a rider prior to getting on as well as wearing tack. It's probably a very useful tool if you are skilled with it over and above just teaching the basic aids. But at the early stages, it could make an OTTB feel a bit confined and thereby increase the tension. Good luck!


                  • #10
                    I am fortunate enough to have a trainer who is very skilled in this technique, and it is a fabulous tool in our arsenal for both my horse and myself. I use long reining as a break from saddle work (and it helps me when I am back in the saddle), when I want to focus but have only a short time, when I am working on straightness, on lateral work. One of the best "feels" was the concept of just having him move forward from the vibration of your torso - sounds nuts, doesn't it? But it so reinforces the connection between myself and my horse.

                    I have an OTTB, but I think this is a wonderful tool for any breed, and any rider. It is unfortunate that it is almost a lost art.
                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues