Riding from the ground
Horse & Hound|January 14, 2021
Long-reining is a hugely valuable tool that can benefit all horses. Stephanie Bateman talks to young horse expert Brendan Gallagher to find out how to long-rein efficiently and what exercises you can do
Brendan Gallagher

LONG-REINING has long been an integral part of the breaking in process in terms of getting a horse used to the rein and voice aids and establishing the steering and brakes,” explains freelance rider and trainer Brendan Gallagher. “It also gives you the opportunity to expose a young horse to scenarios outside the arena, getting them more confident going on their own.”

Long-reining is equally beneficial for older horses and those recovering from injury.

“You can long-rein in straight lines, which is low stress and low intensity, and it is effectively like riding your horse but from the ground,” says Brendan. “You can use half-halts – a squeeze and release down the outside rein – and you can change the bend, ask for transitions and perform many shapes and movements.”

For a horse that has been on box rest and needs rehabilitating, long-reining is perfect.

“It’s great for bringing a horse back into light work without the rider having to get straight on, which is safer,” says Brendan. “A horse that has been on box rest is likely to be very fresh, so having two reins gives you more control [than when you are leading them in-hand or when lungeing]. It’s also a good way to warm your horse up before you ride.”

Long-reining doesn’t have to be restricted to the arena – as long as your horse is established in the long-reins, you can take them anywhere. “It means you can negotiate undulating ground and hills, which can help with improving the horse’s balance,” advises Brendan. “It is not only great for young horses because you get them striding out confidently while experiencing new things, but it adds variety to an older horse’s routine, too.”

MEET THE EXPERT

AFTER a stint as a jockey, Brendan Gallagher focused on training and backing young horses, managing a large breaking and pre-training yard in Newmarket for 10 years. Now part of HB Equestrian in Warwickshire, he provides a comprehensive service breaking a variety of horses from youngsters for Olympic riders to riding club horses. Brendan works with vets and equine professionals in the rehabilitation of “problem horses”, alongside running clinics and helping people work horses from the ground.

THE most common equipment includes a bridle or lunge cavesson with either a saddle (if you are planning to ride afterwards) or roller, and two long-reins or lunge lines. It’s up to you whether you then add in any additional training aids, such as side-reins.

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