Q&A: Long reining safely

  • Q: I should like to long-rein my horse but am worried about what to do if he panics.

    A: Always try to prevent a situation where the horse begins to panic. Before long-reining, work the horse on the lunge so that he becomes used to someone walking behind him and to the rein coming from behind or away from him.

    Continue this until he is completely happy and accepts the rein rather than kicking at it. The horse should be used to the touch of the rein on his hind legs before you let it drop behind him.

    Keep him on a circle and try to keep the outside rein very light but off the ground so he cannot kick his leg over it. Keep circling on the lunge until the horse calmly accepts the feel on the rein.

    If he should panic at this stage, accept that he will canter quite fast on the lunge for six or seven circles before you should try and stop him.

    If the handler does not panic, the situation is less likely to become dangerous and the horse will calm down by himself.

    If the horse does panic because somethingfrightens him while you are behind him, immediately move into his sight. If necessary, turn his head into the hedge or fence.

    Pulling him round to face you is always safer, even if you need to drop the outside rein.

    When starting to long-rein, try to always be slightly to one side of your horse so that he is aware that you are there.

    Never long-rein on roads, as this is very dangerous. Instead, try to find a space in a field where you can turn and circle.

    As in anything with horses, it is a question of preventing danger rather than creating situations which may lead to panic.

    When starting from scratch, be very insistent and always stop your horse when he is frightened.

    When long-reining on tracks or in a field, make sure your horse is wearing a bridle, as attaching the reins to a cavesson noseband gives you little chance of control.

    Read more about lunging and long reining:

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