The Art of Long Lining

For many years, I have been a long-time fan of Long Lining, also known as ground driving. Not only is it beautiful to watch, but an effective tool to enhance your horses’ physical conditioning and overall well-being. Here we will explore its benefits. Whether you’re looking to work on a specific issue, release pent-up energy, aid in rehabilitation, or enhance communication with your equine partner, long-lining can be a unique opportunity for communication and understanding.

What is Long-Lining

Long-lining has been a training technique for centuries. It is a practice that involves working a horse from the ground using two lines attached to the bit or a surcingle. This hands-on approach allows the handler to direct the horse’s movements with precision, from simple transitions and lateral movements to more advanced patterns and figures. This comprehensive training method not only enhances the horse’s physical capabilities but also reinforces their mental focus and responsiveness to subtle aids. The famous Spanish Riding School utilizes the technique to introduce their horses to the upper-level movements seen in the Lipizzaner shows.

Benefits of Long-Lining

As a bodyworker I am enamored by long-lining because of its ability to add to the horse’s improved strength and suppleness without the weight of the rider. By guiding your horse from the ground, you can break down complex movements into smaller, more manageable steps, helping your horse understand and execute the desired behavior. All the while, encouraging them to use their muscles in a balanced and controlled manner. Hence, improving strength, flexibility, and suppleness.


Long-lining can be an effective tool for the spooky horse. While confidence building for horses that may be anxious or hesitant under saddle, long lining offers a safe and controlled environment to build confidence. Although, while on long lines it is impossible to make a horse approach the “monster in the corner”, it is possible to take away all other options, such as running backwards or going sideways. Thus, as we say in training, staying ‘in front of the leg’. When the horse has but no choice to move ‘forward’ towards the “monster” or right beside, they gain self-confidence, which ultimately carries over to the ride.

Aid in Rehabilitation

Long-lining can be great cross-training to either prevent injury or aid in rehabilitation. It can provide a low-impact form of exercise that helps maintain muscle tone, improve flexibility, and promote overall well-being without the added weight of the rider. By varying the exercises and movements, horses can work different muscle groups, reducing the risk of repetitive strain injuries and promoting overall soundness.

Release Pent-Up Energy

 In areas of the country where weather is a factor in the training program and horses must take a ‘forced break’ or the horse is simply too fresh and excitable for ridden work, long-lining is an excellent way to release pent-up energy. By allowing your horse to move freely in a controlled environment, you can help move off excess energy and focus on the task at hand. All the while, building confidence and communication. Two for one special!

Enhance Communication

 Who doesn’t want that?! As a Master Long-Liner would say, “what you teach on the ground, transitions to the saddle”. I believe this to be true. Long lining enhances the communication between horse and rider by reinforcing aids, cues, and commands in a clear and consistent manner. It helps develop trust, respect, and partnership therefore leading to a stronger bond and better performance under saddle.

Mastering the art of long lining can bring numerous benefits to equestrians and their horses. Although deceptively simple, it requires patience, skill, and a deep understanding of equine behavior and biomechanics. I took long lining lessons many years ago and remember how with practice my horse and I gained more understanding of each other. Whether you’re looking to address specific issues, release pent up energy, aid in rehabilitation, or improve communication, long lining is a versatile and effective training technique. By incorporating long lining into your training routine, you can unlock new levels of understanding, trust, and harmony with your horse, leading to a more fulfilling and successful equestrian experience.

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