Warming Up at the Canter

Welcome to The Art of Long Lining


Long Lining aka ground driving is a beneficial way to work your horse from the ground. I was introduced to long lining to help rehabilitate my horse after a 2 year lameness.  Long lining has changed both of our lives.  It has made him stronger, more balanced and improved his self-carriage.  It has also given me a wonderful way to work and enjoy my horse.


 Long lining is valuable training method.  It can be used for starting horses, improving a horse’s fitness, rehabilitation from injury, teaching new movements without the interference of the rider, or building a closer relationship with your horse from the ground.


 Long lining involves training or exercising a horse from the ground using two reins attached to the bit rings. The reins are used to control the horse's movement by giving similar cues as the reins on a ridden horse. Long lining can be done in a round pen or other enclosure, on a circle; or with the handler walking behind.


 The initial training sessions on the long lines should ideally be in a round pen, or at least an enclosed area, to let the horse get accustomed to the feel of the reins, and learn to respond to directional and speed control. Once these basics are achieved, long lining can be continued indefinitely. 


With a skilled handler many things that can be performed under saddle can be achieved using long lines, including dressage movements such as shoulder-in, and piaffe, or navigating obstacles like cavaletties, or low jumps.  Even for horses who are ridden, long lining remains a good way to introduce new exercises, maintain strength and balance.


The renowned Spanish Riding School of Vienna is a good example of what can be achieved using long lines. They use long lining extensively in their horse training. Most of the ridden maneuvers, including the impressive airs above the ground, are initially trained on the long lines.

The Art of Long Lining

c/o Success In U LLC

PO Box 4668

Canton GA  30115

(770) 365-2668

E-mail: kgraham@successinu.com

To contact us:

Warming Up at the Trot

Leg Yield

Teaching Half Steps to Learn Piaffe

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Long Lining - Benefits


Working with your horse on the ground allows you to build a greater bond, increases communication, establishes trust, and helps develop a long lasting relationship.   When correctly done, long lining is an excellent way to improve or maintain a horse's overall fitness, strength, and topline. Long lining can also be used to provide variety in the daily routine, introduce new exercises, work on problem areas or target specific muscle groups. On a circle the horse can be worked at different gaits and the duration of each gradually increased as required. Long lining outside of the arena and on trails is also beneficial. It safely introduces the horse to new surroundings and various objects without the rider on his back.  Incorporating hills into the routine is especially good for building up the fitness and hind quarters of the horse.  Not to mention it is also good exercise for the handler!


If a horse is too young or weak for a rider it can prepare the horse both physically and mentally to be ridden. Horse rehabilitation is another key area: either bringing a horse back into work after time off, or as an alternative to ridden work when that is not possible in the case of inclement weather during the winter months. Although long lining takes a little more time to learn and requires the handler to work as well, the benefits are well worth it. 


Even for those riders who may not be able to ride their horse any longer.  Long lining provides an avenue to work and enjoy your horse at the same time.  If you have suffered an injury and are unable to ride any longer long lining may be the best solution for you.  As long as you can walk for an extended period of time (30 – 40 minutes), then long lining provides a viable option to work your horse on a regular basis.  Not to mention it will quickly get you back in shape!


My horse was recently out of work for two years due to a lameness issue.  I started him back in work using long lining.  In just a few short months his entire body transformed and his balance and self-carriage improved tremendously.  Some time ago I injured my back and I am unable to ride. Long lining has given me an opportunity to enjoy my horse again without riding him.  The work we do together on the ground has far exceeded anything I have ever done in the saddle.  My partnership with him has grown and my bond is closer than it’s ever been.  Through long lining we have learned to perform various high level dressage movements; shoulder-in, haunches-in, leg yield, pirouette, piaffe, flying changes, etc.  Every time I work with my horse I feel a true sense of accomplishment.  I truly feel he also loves the work and looks forward to learning something new each time we work together.

Long Lining has changed my life and my horses’ as well.  He loves his job and I love the time we can spend together!


Long Lining Compared to Lunging


Lunging is a very common practice and is used for many of the same reasons as long lining. Long lining is preferable for several reasons, the main one being that it is much more versatile. Lunging confines the training of the horse to a circle with no opportunity to incorporate different movements. Although it can be used to introduce verbal cues, there is no opportunity to train the horse to the rider's rein cues as compared to long lining. The benefit of long lining is it can be used to train ridden maneuvers such as leg yield, shoulder-in, piaffe, cavaletties, etc.


Lunging can cause a horse to move incorrectly. Often the horse will pull against the line pressure. This pull on the horse's head will cause the whole spine to be out of alignment. Instead of following the curve of the circle the horse pulls his/her head to the outside to balance. This incorrect movement puts more strain on the horse's body and builds up the wrong muscles. Injuries may occur, and over time the horse will get in the habit of moving this way, and it can be hard to retrain correct movement. If you need to lunge your horse I recommend a very large circle and not for an extended period of time. If you have to lunge your horse then only lunge your horse for 8-10 minutes in each direction.