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Pessoa Lunging System

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  • Pessoa Lunging System

    Thoughts? Anyone use as a tune up? I have a horse that has been out of consistent work for several months. The trainer at my barn suggested that we use this system for a few weeks, once or twice a week - in addition to riding, to help him remember how to move his body without the encumbrance of a rider..he had his first session today (just 20 mins) and I saw him soften and relax and really work...in just a short time...

    I have never been one for gadgets, but I think this might be a tool to help rebuild his topline (in addition to good, slow flat work)...

    I would add that we kept the system on a loose setting -- I am not interested in cranking him into some tight frame that he can't handle...

    Just wondering if anyone else has used this system for a short time with success?
    Last edited by AliBus; Aug. 4, 2009, 04:27 PM. Reason: typo

  • #2
    I've used it on quite a few of our horses that need a tune up on the ground, usually once a week or every other week. I have been happy with its results, however don't suggest using it on a young horse that doesn't have much experience on the lungeline as having the pressure from behind can give them a bit of a scare along with the extra connections etc. I use it on our 4/5 year old jumpers and older once they have gained enough experience on the lunge line in Vienna reins and are submissive to the contact. But all in all, I like the system as long as there is enough encouragement coming form behind to go forward into the contact and engage.
    Ryu Equestrian & Facebook Page
    Breeding Horses Today, for the Equestrian Sport of Tomorrow.
    Osteen & Gainesville, Florida.


    • Original Poster


      my guy is 13...he was doing jumpers until 2006, when I started law school. Since then he has mostly been used as a trail horse -- hacking out once or twice a week..I was excited to get him back into work earlier this summer, then he had an injury (blew an abscess in a weird spot) so he couldn't be ridden for almost two months...I have been riding him a time or two a week, but not anything all that regular...but my summer internship has ended and I am ready to get serious about getting him back in shape (and keeping him there)...I have enlisted the help of a new trainer at our barn who seems to get along with him well...but using this system is new to me, so I was looking for opinions...

      He really needs to build his back muscles and topline and remember how to move again...

      She's going to help me with the Pessoa system and a ride a week, and I am going to ride him the other days, working on flat stuff...it will be a while before we will jump again, we need to work up to it...(both of us)...

      Keep the opinions coming


      • #4
        I made one of my own... not the exact Pessoa system, but it was a pretty darned good copy. Worked small miracles on my mare. Haven't used it on the gelding as he doesn't really need it, but wouldn't hesitate to if that need arose.


        • #5
          The "Pessoa System" is just the latest version of something that's been around forever-just costs more with the designer lable.

          It works...but can cause problems if used improperly, for the wrong reasons or used too often-they just learn how to sling crooked to avoid it.

          Look in some other catalogues for less pricey versions or do what we did, made it out of some clothesline rope and bungeees, couple of swivel snaps and a little electrical tape. Looked a little sketchy. Lasted 10 years. Got the job done.

          I do dislike it when somebody markets a hundreds of years old training device as "their" system.

          Anyway, I would not go out and buy one at the price they want. Borrow it, go cheap or make it.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            I got one off a bb for not too much and I love it! I work my guys about once a week and it has realy helped each in many different ways!


            • #7
              I agree with others-- It can be bought more made more cheaply. And one of the pulleys on mine broke and has proven impossible to replace. I swear to God, I'm not spending another $130 to replace the whole shebang because I can't get one part, or even a similar sortakinda similar one at ye olde hardware store... any of 'em.

              I also agree with others on another point: It has its place. But 20 minutes of work in this biting rig is *plenty*.

              Actually, I kind of like the idea of using it for an initial phase of rehab or legging up when you'd like the horse to really use himself at the walk and don't want to get that done under saddle.

              It's also nice if you think it would help you to *watch* your horse move in an engaged way at any gait, rather than ride and feel that.

              But ask this question on the Dressage forum, or do a search, and you'll get a different set of strong opinions. Maybe you'll find some useful info in there along with the stump speeches about the Platonic form of horse training.
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat


              • Original Poster


                The trainer who is working with my horse has a generic version -- I just used the brand name to be clear about what I was talking about -- but thanks for the advice I am glad to see that no one has said anything bad or given any real horror stories...at least when this is used in moderation or not much at all...
                I am looking forward to seeing a difference in a few months...I think I will take some before pictures so I can compare his progress...

                Thanks again to all that replied


                • #9
                  One potential horror story: The horse who needs gentle but engaged work and gets *pissed* at the ropes and broncs around. Mine would rather buck and rage than just canter in one of these, no matter what I do. I'd like to train him to do otherwise, but it's doesn't seem worth it at this point. He says, "It's my last hold out as a Horse and a Man and a proud possessor of Free Will and all the good things that God gave me. I will not be literally roped into using my butt."

                  Whatever. Just know that the Pessoa thing can cause a horse to get all up on his righteous stump and pick a fight you didn't intend.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat


                  • #10
                    My crafty mare just stood there. No way she was going to arrange herself like that. The application of a whip to remind her to go forward resulted in up.

                    It does not work with all of them.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                    • #11
                      One thing I do NOT like about the Pessoa system --- and why I prefer side reins attached to a bridle and either a saddle or surcingle -- is that it never "gives" when the horse goes in the proper frame and engages. There is always pressure on the bit, and there is really no reward for the horse when it does relax and travel in a frame. When you use side reins though (loose at first), the horse is rewarded for dropping his head and carrying himself in a frame because then there is no "pulling" or pressure on the bit -- the freedom and "give" is the reward -- horses understand that. I think a lunge in side reins is more productive, safer (bucking horse can get tangled in Pessoa ropes), and allows the horse to teach itself how to find the reward.

                      And some horses are so fixated on the rope behind their flank/on their hock that they never relax - I've had a couple of horses buck and cavort for 15 minutes because it pissed them off so much -- not really a productive use of a gadget and, frankly, a bit dangerous and a risk of an injury. Lunging itself is REALLY hard on a horse, IMO.

                      I don't believe in drilling on the lunge line - use it to let a horse get rid of a little starch, or to reinforce obedience to the ground person (do lots of transitions instead of galloping around in a small circle). Use of the side reins is also good when training a fresh or hot horse on the lunge line to make sure you have a little more control - but keep the sessions to no more than 15 minutes, and put the horse on the biggest circle that you can control. Your horse's hocks and stifles will thank you.
                      Last edited by LH; Aug. 5, 2009, 12:53 PM. Reason: clarification


                      • #12
                        "Lunging itself is hard on a horse, IMO." I agree with LH on this statement...

                        I have never been one to try and get any training done on the lunge line. An occassional turn or 2 to make sure I won't get dumped after a winter off is about it, but generally I feel it is hard on them as well.


                        • #13
                          I've used it on a lot of different horses. Never had one that it didn't work on. Now some did better with it than others but eventually all of the ones I tried it on accepted it. The key to doing it is to build them up gradually.

                          The Pessoa system comes with instructions on how to use it and how to set it. You first start with it through the bit in between their legs. Makes them raise up their shoulders. Once that topline is more developed you can put it to a different setting. Second setting is moving the snaps from between the legs to the side (by where you'd hook up the girth), then the next step is where you'd hook your breast collar up to your saddle, the final step (for dressage horses is what is says, I've never done it this high) is that you cross the snap over the whithers and snap to the other side on that "breastcollar" setting and do the same with the other side.

                          It is a bit confusing until someone shows you how to do it. The knockoffs don't have these instructions. If you know how to use it, sstack has a knockoff that works quite well and is way cheaper. Quality is about the same as the pessoa system.


                          • #14
                            Oh, I can assure you I know how to put it on properly and adjust it and so did the trainer involved. Between us we must have had 75 years experience and have used other versions many times.

                            Some just don't like their head basically tied to that butt strap...even loosely. Adjust it all you want, they will not accept it and can get you into a big wreck. Some cannot stand the very presence of the butt strap, which, IMO, is what uncorked my mare.

                            Funny thing about horses, they can't read how they are supposed to react. This overgrown, fancied up bitting rig is not a be all end all and, like most of this stuff, can get you inTO as much trouble as it can fix.
                            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                            • #15
                              I prefer to use longlines (2 lunge lines). You can constantly adjust the length, so you can change amount of bend, contact, etc depending on what you want to work on and the horse's reaction to it. Plus you can go all the way around an arena, ground drive, do figure 8s and such. More versatile than the myriad of gadgets out there on the market. I'm wary of anything that fixes a horse's head in a position.


                              • #16
                                Hey, findeight I did not mean to say that you didn't know what you were doing. I just haven't personally had a horse who has fought it like that.

                                My reason for writing all of that down was for people who either buy the knockoff or make their own and haven't seen it being used before. It isn't the easiest thing to hook up the first time and without experience or detailed instructions people can get in a world of trouble quickly. This is especially true for horses who have never been taught the correct way to go on a bit etc.


                                • #17
                                  I was a TOTAL skeptic. Seems to work well for what we have used it for. We start horses for about 5 minutes and build up to 20.


                                  • #18
                                    Some moons ago (won't say how many of course) when we were taught to long line, and lunge with lines (aka Pessoa, as it has been around since Samur in the what 1600s?), we were taught to make sure the horse wears blankets with blanket straps. Our instructor (FN) insisted that any horse that is used to blanket straps can lunge with the double/long lines or pessoa. Basically the pessoa is long lining/double longe for dummies.

                                    I have uploaded a basic description of how-to for the system on scribd


                                    Like any longing, it is only beneficial if it is forward, and on a true circle, in a controlled manner. Any horse that is careering around on the lungeline like a maniac, falling in here, pulling there, is going to get themselves injured. Lunging is like riding, balance and gymnastics. For those that are good at it, this is just the best.



                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by findeight View Post
                                      Oh, I can assure you I know how to put it on properly and adjust it and so did the trainer involved. Between us we must have had 75 years experience and have used other versions many times.

                                      Some just don't like their head basically tied to that butt strap...even loosely. Adjust it all you want, they will not accept it and can get you into a big wreck. Some cannot stand the very presence of the butt strap, which, IMO, is what uncorked my mare.

                                      Funny thing about horses, they can't read how they are supposed to react. This overgrown, fancied up bitting rig is not a be all end all and, like most of this stuff, can get you inTO as much trouble as it can fix.
                                      Ditto - I used the Pessoa on several horses - seemingly successfully -- until my 2 smarter horses thought I was a raving idiot and showed me why this was NOT for them. Their reactions taught ME the problem with this gadget. My mare was most expressive in her disdain for this stupid thing, but worked really well with side reins and understood how to get the reward of the side reins.

                                      One more thing - I've never seen a Pessoa rig used in europe - instead, they just tie the reins to the girth billets - kinda' like side reins . . . .


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by LH View Post
                                        One more thing - I've never seen a Pessoa rig used in europe - instead, they just tie the reins to the girth billets - kinda' like side reins . . . .

                                        Yes and no

                                        Attaching the reins behind the saddle is done often, and when a horse is nice and forward, it is just like side reins. Sidereins with rubber are the worst for the horse, it must be 'tight', hence the reins. So yes, you see that alot. Especially when a sales horse just needs to trow steam for a minute before getting on.

                                        Young horses in training, at young horse barns, and other horses in training go often in a Pessoa type lining system. It is a required 'course' before graduating a 'trainer', and when I groomed for an international dressage rider in the Netherlands, ALL horses went int he Pessoa twice a week. But that is more in the training, not at shows or sales. So 'no' to that nobody uses it.

                                        Plus, as I sell, this system (secret inside information ), I can tell you that they manufacture 500 a year, with them usually being sold out within 6 months. That's within Europe, I don't get that many in

                                        As to attaching it 'loosely', I'm sure that was an error. Loose equipment to the bit is of course annoying, and means the horse is not forward. 'If he isn't reaching, you aren't driving', rule #1 of lunging. So if the equipment is loose, and dangling, then that is not good, all horses react irritated, some sooner some later. When you attach any lunging gear, while the horse is standing still, the nose MUST be slightly, in front of the vertical. If the nose is too far out, it will dangle and is useless and irritating. If you have it attached the correct way, and it is 'loose' during lunging, that means the horse is not truely in front of the aids. Not forward, and that has nothing to do with the horses speed. When that happens you most likely have not confirmed the basics of lunging before adding equipment. And you need to take a step back.

                                        I can go on and on and on. I taught 'lunging and long lining' @ Ermelo, I know way more about lunging then I have time to spend on this board.

                                        I don't know if any of you have the 'horse journal', but a little while back they had a really good article about lunging and why some horses fall in and then out, they pointed out how that had to do with the horse being behind the aids on the lunge line. I don't know who wrote it, but it was a good article!