Monday 9 April 2012

You say longeing, I say lunging. Just don't say Round Pen. Or brrrp!

I forgot to mention one of my favourite passages from the "TOP THREE" books.  It is a paragraph from Al's book, The Complete Training of Horse and Rider. 

And now, I can't find Al.  So I can't actually quote it perfectly.  I really apologize.  I will keep looking.  It is probably under the leg of a wobbly table or is otherwise wedging something into place somewhere.  Mr. Motard may have used it for kindling.  But..perhaps someone else with a copy can validate my quote.

In there somewhere he is talking about dealing with horses that are being naughty and he basically says (my words, not his) that sometimes, ya just gotta give them a nice butt spanking. But then, being the wise man that he is, he suggests that you do it out behind the barn, where no one can see you do it.

Huh. Interesting.  Good advice - thanks Al.  If only Anky had kept his book by her toilet for reference, she could have saved herself a lot of internet slagging. 

The strangest thing about this passage - since it is so very true, and so very useful - is how it is virtually NEVER quoted on the bulletin boards anywhere.  It is really weird.  Maybe some bluebirds came by and ripped this page out of the versions of the book published after 1962, or whenever it was my copy from the Horse Lover's Library was published. 

Anyway, when I hunt the book down, I promise I will type the actual paragraph.  But now, let's move on to what it actually is you will begin reading about, when reading about starting your young horse.


Is there anything as...uhhh...diverse out there as what people mean when they say they are "longeing their horse". 

Well - for those who do longe their horses.  Because there is of course (just as with shoeing, vaccination and other things that I consider to be normal, everyday horsie things) a contingent of people that believe you should NEVER longe a young horse.  Only a cruel person would - if you make them circle around too much, they will wear down their limbs, leaving you with a weiner horse on little peg legs or something else equally as frightening.  Or their little brains will be so bored that they will melt and ooze out of their ears. 

These people are idiots.  I don't know anyone who does a decent job with young horses who doesn't do at least a bit of longeing to start rider and horse off speaking a few of the same words of a common language.  No - longeing is not the be all / end all.  But...I think it is more like Dora the Explorer for horses.  Could you become a Canadian embassador to Mexico just watching Dora? No, probably not.  Could you order any number of required beer in a polite and efficient fashion on your next Cuban vacation - uh, sure (since the drunken guy beside you on the plane typically wants to say "oooonaaa ceeerrrrvay-sa pour faavooor" at least 50 times beteween Toronto and Varadero - add this to what Dora has taught you about counting and you are good to go). 

But once you get beyond the Dora Explorer basics that typically go something like this...
1. Put horse on a rope. 
2. Make them go in a circle around you. 
3. Say things like...Waaaalk on!  Terrrr-ot!  Caaaannn-ter!  Caaaaann-ter!  aaaand woooahh (maybe add that stupid brrrrp noise here a few times)...

From there on in.. well, it is kind of the anything goes, wild west. 

Since when it comes to starting young horses, most people are sequestered away in their arenas doing whatever it is they do in private (thanks Al!), the best place to really witness how free form the definition of longeing can be is to go to a horse show.  Preferably one that has hunter/jumper AND dressage rings. 

You will see everything from people flying horses like kites with nothing but a halter and longe line, a sturdy set of gloves and 2 hours to burn - to people with their horses bound up with pads and surcingles and sidereins like Houdini trying to escape from a straightjacket with locks.  And both of these people consider themselves to be "warming up their horses" 

Caaaaannn-ter! Caaaaan-ter!  Cluck-cluck-cluck - brrrrpp!

Add to this the new and trendy ways to make your horse circle around you, such as "the roundpen".

Maybe somewhere out there there is a non-scary roundpen, but I have not yet seen it.  In these here parts, they are typically thistle filled enclosures with a 6 inch deep trough worn around the outside, and are only used by weirdos - such as those people who feel that longeing will wear your horse's legs down to nubs, but somehow, letting them go Mach 9 in a roundpen won't.  These kinder, gentler horse owners let their young'uns rip in these enclosures while turning their bodies here and there to send psychic horse whispery messages their way, while licking and chewing.  Or something. While bystanders just hope to hell the horse won't get its legs caught up in the bars as it flys by trying to kick someone's head off.

So, you can mock me for reading books written by somewhat sane people.  But I do think it helps to set some sort of a step-by-step framework for what it is you would like to accomplish with your young horse. 



  1. I personally HATE the brrrppp noise. What the...?

    Now, annh Annnh! for something bad is more universally accepted. My (admittedly horsie) friend used when a customer at JoAnn fabrics tried to move the bolt while she was cutting.

    The AP line, though unfortunately not nearly as clearly thought out and premeditated as yourself, is actually the very topic of one of my blogs I *just* posted on tonight. I was not wise enough to do it behind the barn. Of course, when the problem doesn't happen behind the barn...
    (shameless self promotion

  2. Spanking HAHAHAHAHA
    Over here Italy, they do not do it behind the barn. The trick is to put sand on the horse flank to hide the blood dripping from the flank O_o
    But TBH the people who wallop, hmm sorry spank the most are the farriers. Because, you know, shoeing is like changing tyre, why that vehicle does not just stand still!!!
    Now I remember reading on a bulletin board, that this "horsewoman" could correct her horses, just by staring at them ...
    I wonder how she would cope with a 2yrs old colt who feels the Spring. Hmmmm... I wonder

  3. So I'm confused..probably because its still early,
    Are you against longing, or just against stupid people longing?

    1. I am generally against stupid people doing anything.

      Longeing done by non-stupid people - that, I like!

  4. So, you can mock me for reading books written by somewhat sane people. But I do think it helps to set some sort of a step-by-step framework for what it is you would like to accomplish with your young horse.

    Or you could skip the books altogether and get help from someone who actually knows what they're doing. But to do that you'd have to elevate yourself from somewhat sane to actually sane.

    1. You do realize that blogs are supposed to be entertaining, right?

    2. Oh, it's entertaining for the rest of us!

  5. there's nothing worse than hearing that obnoxious, high pierced "and canteerr!" Thankfully, years ago, a western trainer taught me to use cluck for trot, kiss for canter, and I don't sound like a screechy nut in the warm up ring/ Oh, wait, I don't lunge in the warm up ring because you aren't SUPPOSE to, unless you thing you are queen of the local dressage county, then you do whatever you damn well please, all while saying "annndd canteeerrr," in your high pitched, voice never changed after six years old, tone.

  6. Chapter 2-12, page 63. 5 1/2 glorious pages of common-sense & reason, which he felt necessary to write due to the 'general decline of culture in this century'. I wonder how fast he spins in his grave these days.

    1. LOL!! That made me snort water out my nose :)

  7. I think I'm in love with you. I can't stop giggling. Thanks for the pick me up this morning :D

  8. I was referred to your blog by Chasing the Dream - so glad I came! :D Hahaha great post... I have only ever had young horses and I think it really depends on the horse (the method of longeing you use) but, yes, regardless of what type of horse you have, I think some people just do stuff that is full of crap. They think it's doing something, they try to say it's doing something... It's not. :P Whatever. I've learned to keep my mouth shut and act like I'm going along with it (just not actually do it) because people are just so opinionated about what they do with regards to their horses!
    Hey, maybe stop by and check out my blog?? :)

  9. I've always been amazed by the lunging vs roundpen dichotomy. Also the magical way come people communicate. Generally, it looks like their horses are just as amazed as I am.

  10. LOL good blog spot on !

  11. Funny Posting. Still, I like the round pen for starting colts. You can teach them voice commands for gaits, reverse and most important, Come HERE! all before you put on a longe line or start working them in long lines. Better than flying a 2 year old like a kite out in the middle of a field!

    1. Can you use round pens for starting Fillies too? Or is it just for colts?

  12. I always shake my head when someone tells me they lunge their horse before every ride to tire them out. At first I would ask what they planne don doing when the horse was accustomed to 15 minutes of dare devil acrobatics in a small circle and they had to increase it to 30 minutes to get any energy out. I got a blank stare and eventually gave up. That being said there are times I put my Arab mare on the lunge to have a "come to Jesus" type talk with her and let her be stupid without hurting herself. Those are few and far between. Oh and she is 15 not a young'en although she acts like it.

  13. It's better by far, if you can lunge in the warm up ring and add a German accent to your words! Throw in a few schons and jahs und so brav. Really psychs out the competition. You can even say bbbrrrrrrrrrrrr with a German accent if you work on it!


  14. I lunge in a roundpen if I am afraid I will be a kite... I say gooooodsah! When they are good... And I make drink a lot if they are bad.

    Spankings? The other day I threw a water bottle at a horse... Spankings from afar!

    What if you don't have a barn to go behind? What if you just went behind the wennebego(spelling?)

    I really dont like the brrp noise its something birds do and birdlike women seem to copy it making if altogether...

    I say, "What if I brrped?" and my hubby says, "Now that would be embarassing for the both of us."

  15. Heh. Interesting view of round pens. They do have their uses, and they certainly aren't a new thing in Alberta. There isn't a hope I could have started retraining my current horse without using some of the 'natural' horsemanship techniques - in a corral rather than a round pen. His previous owner had been intimidated by him, so he had a lot of bad habits. I'd have eaten a lot of dirt if I'd tried to clip on a lunge line to start the communication. He lunges beautifully now, though, and is going well under saddle.

    I enjoy your blog. Your writing is eye-opening to the perils and pitfalls of getting into the dressage world.