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Long Lining Issues

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  • Long Lining Issues

    I am starting a new driving pony and am having issues with her long lining. She is lunging nicely in harness and is becoming quite consistent with her voice commands and transitions. She has about 90 days under saddle and is going very nicely. She has been lovely to work with. But, when I try to long line her, she becomes a bronc. If I run the lines through the rings on collar and saddle with outside rein over her back, she is too strong and buries her head. The saddle slips and pulls on her crupper and she bucks. If I run the lines through the tugs with outside rein behind her (which is how I would like to do it ideally), she bucks, spins, and bolts. She won't even allow me to ground drive her with the reins through the tugs as she doesn't like them touching her anywhere on her hindquarters or hindleg. My thought is that she needs to be desensitized, because 1) we cannot move forward in training until she is comfortable long lining and 2) if she has a problem with this, then I suspect she will have a problem with the breeching, traces, and crupper when hitched. Does anyone have a tried and true methods of desensitizing? Any suggestions on working past this?
    Last edited by showjumpers66; Nov. 29, 2017, 02:01 PM.

  • #2
    Yep, the tincture of time. Your rushing and forgetting a few steps in getting them used to breeching and long lines. I like to use a polo wrap around the butt and a surcingle with crupper and turn them out for a good bit. I usually tie hay twine down the crupper long enough that it touches all over the hind end and turn them out with that, then lunge them with it. Then I introduce the lines and put them all over the horses body, under the tail, around the legs, etc.

    I like to get a horse where I can attach a line to the outside and basically swing that line anywhere and jump rope with it with no reaction at all 3 gaits.

    "Anyone who tries to make brownies without butter should be arrested." Ina Garten


    • #3
      Desensitizing is the first thing I do as a baby. I swing ropes. long whips around them all over while they stand quietly.
      After that is solid I would do it with blinders so they do not get startled when something touches them that they cannot see. With her bucking spinning and bolting it sounds like she needs many kinds of desensitizing. May not be the best driving prospect at this point.


      • #4
        I totally agree with everyone else here. It sounds like she needs a lot of desensitizing and lots of in hand work. Don't rush things. It could take a month, it could take a year or she may never be able to drive (I've had all sorts of ponies - some were comfortable quickly, some needed a long time and I've had a few that just did not like it. But they were great under saddle ponies. Only time will tell). 90 days is not a long time. I start my in hand training and long lining when they are yearlings and 2 year olds and don't actually break them to drive until they are 4 or so. I put in a few years of desensitizing for driving as it is really important. Under saddle work I can usually do quite a bit faster, but I still take their 2 year old year to get them used to a saddle and learn how to "work" without over working them. I like my guys to last and to have a good foundation (so important for driving).

        Are you long lining her with an open or closed bridle? Some animals are more comfortable on seeing things at first and then once they are ok with the long lining in an open bridle, it can be changed to a closed bridle. Of course, some are the total opposite and do better with a closed bridle the whole time....

        Do you have someone that can help you? They could always head her and keep her quiet while you walk around her and get her used to things touching her sides etc. Once she's comfortable with that, they could lead her at the walk while you long line her with the line behind her rump. Then work up to the trot once she's comfortable with that.

        I personally do not like to long line with the lines through the terrets. I find they can spin easier, the saddle can slip easily and I don't like the contact up there. But thats just me.


        • Original Poster

          The thing that surprises me is that she is so steady and unflappable normally, but I agree that we need to take a big step backwards and work on desensitization. Thanks for the great ideas!!

          I also don't like the lines through the terrets ... was just trying to get them off her body. I will also try working her in an open bridle while going through this desensitization process as well as having someone at her head when we get to the point of trying again.

          I think we can work past this and I am willing to put the time in. While she is blowing up, I do like her response after she does. She doesn't go far and quietly stands so I can help her. After a couple blow ups, she does settle into work ... I just think it is a red flag that must be addressed before we move forward. Maybe she doesn't want to drive ... we will see.


          • #6
            Going back to the starting point, beginning over as luvmyhackney suggests may be helpful. She needs to wear the cupper longer to get used to the feel. Keep it very clean to prevent soring. On cool or cold days WARM IT UP before putting it on! Watching a nice horse trying to scoot away from a cold cupper is pitiful.

            Then after a bit, adding strings to hang and touch her while in her paddock is really useful. Progress to pony wearing breeching, then maybe add strings to that or light rope with a bit more weight as it moves with her. Our young horse acted very silly about things touching his legs at the trainers. She called it his "hula skirt" when breeching had all the ropes hanging on it touching him while in his paddock. He got tired of over-reacting with all the touching on his legs, quit misbehaving. Took time, daily wearing for hours at a time, but it worked. He just wanted an excuse to act silly. He also had to wear a racing hood with half cup blinkers out in his paddock much of the day after he made wearing his driving bridle an excuse to over-react. Now he is ho-hum about wearing a blinker bridle.

            We KNEW he was being silly because he has NEVER been touchy about legs, never kicky at all. We keep them in tie stalls, so they are used to being handled from both sides daily, lots of body touches all over, non-reactive to that stuff. I worked to make sure he was accepting to harness wearing, even wore the long stringed fly net on him in movement, before he left. Bridle was very open with blinkers, but he got worse, worried about things he already knew, being behind him. So the racing hood worked it's magic over time. Now wearing blinkers, the shafts, cool harness traces, stuff suddenly touching him behind is not an issue for him.

            He is young, 4yr old, a bit bored even with daily lessons, so he thought of these evasions to try. We left him at the trainers for a long time, getting solid in his skills, calm reactions to everything. He is coming home this weekend, where life is not so scheduled. He has to be reliable, which is why he stayed so long. It will be like getting a new horse for everyone equine here! He will be stalled alongside each one, can get nosy thru the divider, friendly again without hurting each other using the tie stalls daily. Reintroducing stall buddies one at a time outside, so he fits in the groups again.

            Trainer says each of ours is alike in easy handling, smart, yet quite different in accepting their driving training steps. She uses all her skills keeping them progressing and happy, says they keep her thinking sharp! She is adaptable to the horse, but horse must succeed, be obedient and comfortable at each training step before progressing to the next one.Some take much longer than others.


            • Original Poster

              Thank you! I feel like that is exactly what I am dealing with. This pony has been well handled and typically never has an issue with anything. She has been so easy to start under saddle, teach to lunge, harness, etc. She hasn't seemed phased by the blinkers. I probably did move too quickly as everything has been so easy but I honestly think she is using this as an excuse to be naughty as when I flap things around her or against her legs and hindquarters, she really doesn't care. When I take the long lines off and put lunge line on, she is fine. Maybe she feels trapped between my hands and the line running behind her. I did purchase a surcingle and crupper that she can be turned out in and I will hand strings off it with a bandage for breeching as suggested. She can live in that several hours a day. Once we get past this, she is going to the trainer to progress her training.


              • Original Poster

                Video lunging in harness a couple of months ago ... probably the 2nd or 3rd time. She really doesn't seem to care about the harness.


                She does seem to be getting hotter/more forward as her training progresses and she gets fitter and more confident. I decided to dial down her nutrition a bit, but I really don't think that is the issue.


                • #9
                  I agree that you need to dial back a step or two.

                  This would be my process:

                  1- Before I even think of long lining I want the horse to be good with things being flicked on and around them. This can be done with a training stick and string, lunge whip, or even just lobbing rope around (over the back, neck, rump, around legs).

                  2- Be sure I can "wrap" the line around the horse and have it follow the feel. For a really sensitive horse you might start standing (outside of kicking range) behind the tail and draw the horse's head to you and build up to standing on one side of the horse's head with the rope around the haunches and draw the horse into a 360 to spin away and then facing you.

                  3- Lunge like normal, but with a second line going up over the horse's back.

                  4- Get the horse used to the far line wriggling and swinging without getting silly about it. Swing it around the haunches, up the back, and down again. Start at the stand and work up the gaits until it isn't an issue.

                  5- Lunge like normal, but slowly work the line to it's eventual position around the haunches and let it hang there. Do it both directions, but stop and change sides or manually turn the horse rather than trying to use the lines at this point. Both lines will be attached in lungeing position, just to be clear, not through any rings or shaft loops.

                  6- Swap to your long-lining headgear (usually an open bridle at this point, but it can be done in a halter, sidepull, lungeing cavesson, etc.). Your inside rein will go directly to you. Your outside rein will go through the surcingle ring or shaft loop, depending on what equipment you are using, but either way you want the rein alongside the horse's body, not hovering above it through terrets. You can start with the far line over the horse's back as before or around the haunch, whichever one you think your horse can handle. Lunge the horse and work the far rein into position. Halt and manually change sides. You will adjust so that the new inside rein goes directly to you and the new outside rein goes around the haunch.

                  7- Inside rein can now go through the surcingle ring or shaft loop. You may or may not still stop and turn the horse manually at this point or start introducing slow, gradual turns.

                  Another thought is while the horse is tied practice bringing the ropes, lines, and traces back and forth across the haunches. This might actually be a first step before lungeing at all.

                  I might post another comment when I have a moment.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks! We have a lot of homework.


                    • #11
                      Other considerations:

                      I only run lines through the terrets when I am driving in a vehicle. The lines parallel to the body help to prevent the horse from "spining out" underneath the lines and causing a real mess. Have I had a horse spin themselves into a mess? Yes, but it isn't so bad and there is less harness twisting when it is alongside the body.

                      I personally am not a fan of cotton web lines. They tend to have too much stretch to them and don't have enough weight to easily direct them where you want them. Flat nylon lines are a little weightier, but the flat lines don't slide as readily through rings.

                      You can also use beta lines, but I would recommend a smaller width like 5/8" as 3/4" or wider can be a bit heavy. They do have a decent weight and you can send a loop down the line and flick it around without too much difficulty.

                      My favorite long lines are made of yacht braid rope. I had a set of 1/2" mountain climbing rope lines, which had a decent feel to them, nice in the hand and easy to direct, but they were a little heavy for some horses and it bulked up in the hand if you had much more than three folds in the line. The ones I use most often now are 1/4", which still has the ability to be flicked and moved easily, but is very light for horses that are a little extra sensitive in the face. I will admit that they don't have as much grip as thicker lines, but I do so much sliding and adjusting while I long line that I'd rather have a little more slip than grip. The small line slides really nice through any rings and you can also fold them up and send them through. Lungeing I prefer something closer to a 1/2" but still prefer the ropes over a flat line. The ropes also tend to not get as knotted and if they do they are easier to untangle since you don't have pinches and twists that can occur in flat lines.

                      I also prefer buckle attachments over snaps for multiple reasons including more options of where to put the rein (ever try to snap on to a slot for a kimberwick or liverpool?), smoother connection, less weight, and you can use the buckle to keep the lines tidy (best thing ever! I can have six 30' lines on the same hook without it turning into those infamous balls of Christmas lights and spending forever sorting them). The snaps that can handle the pressure are pretty heavy whereas a strap of biothane is much lighter. I just buy bit straps like those found on a draft style bridle and they work great.

                      Length wise I like a 30' line, especially working larger horses. You could get away with less on a pony or mini, but I'd rather have too much length than not enough.

                      That all said you work with what you have and make do, but there are certainly tools that make life easier!

                      Any questions?


                      • Original Poster

                        Nope! Great information, thanks!


                        • #13
                          No advice here, but your pony is lovely!
                          Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm: http://thesmallhorsefarm.blogspot.com


                          • Original Poster

                            So I have identified that it is anything strappy that swings from her flanks and hindquarters. She is fine if I sack her out with a pad or blanket. I have spent the last couple days swinging, wrapping, and dangling lead ropes all around her hindquarters and have already seen an improvement. She particularly hates the straps of a blanket trailing off her hindquarters. I feel much better about this now that I know exactly what I need to fix. I guess I just never realized as she is so good about everything ... tacking up, grooming/bathing, farrier, hind boots, riding, lunging, etc. Up until this point, she has been so easy. Thanks so much for the advice!


                            • Original Poster

                              Thank you!

                              Originally posted by Libby2563 View Post
                              No advice here, but your pony is lovely!


                              • #16
                                You're welcome! Driving really does test the mental limits of a horse in a way that riding does not.