Long reining used to be a crucial part of backing a young horse.  Unfortunately it has become somewhat of a dying art.  With the right training and a quiet experienced horse, anyone can learn to long rein. It is strongly recommended you learn on a quiet experienced horse in a safe environment. Teaching a young or nervous horse requires experience and speed for it to be a successful outcome!

Allowing a young or nervous horse time to work things out not only builds confidence, it is a sound investment for the future.  

Some of the benefits of long reining are:

> Teaches the horse to be confident, striding out in front learning the big wide world is an exciting place and not something to be feared
> Before the backing stage the horse, without the weight of the rider, can learn how to turn left and right, stopping, and walking forwards on command
> The young horse gets used to the feel of the bit (contact)
> Manoeuvring in and out of bollards
> Stepping across perceived scary object, for example poles and plastic sheets
> An excellent way of re-schooling a horse, building confidence and trust
> Working a horse who is unable to be ridden under saddle, for example a sore back
> Lunging with two reins gives better control of the hind quarters
> You can even teach lateral work, the possibilities are endless.


Probably the most common method is to attach the long reins to the bit then through rings on the side of the roller. If a horse has not had a bit in his mouth, you can start long reining of the headcollar.  However, make sure you are safe, for example in the school.  If you do not own a roller then you can just as successfully use a saddle.  The stirrups need to be pulled down, passing the long rein through the stirrup irons.  Note:  To secure the stirrup irons you need to fasten a piece of cord on the right stirrup, pass the cord under the horses belly and fasten securely on the left stirrup iron.  This will prevent the irons moving, making the long reins insecure.  It is a good idea to use boots to prevent injury.

BREAKING BIT                                                                                          
Traditionally breaking bits are used, the theory behind the keys is it encourages the horse to mouth the bit. 

This bit does not suit all horses and you may need to look at alternatives, for example using a straight bar bit.  The type of bit will dictate the action, not to mention the size and shape of the horses mouth.  No matter what, your horse must be comfortable. 

Remember, this is their first introduction to "work", having strange things put in their mouth and on their backs; it needs to be a good experience not frightening or uncomfortable.


                                                                                       Above: straight bar loose ring snaffle
A roller can be used in place of the saddle.  Use a thick pad underneath the roller to ensure the horse is comfortable.  

Tip: To prevent having to over tighten the girth or the roller slipping back and frightening the horse, secure the roller by fastening some cord to the rings forming a breastplate.
Position of the Trainer

The trainer walks behind the horse's hindquarters at a safe distance, with the outside rein coming round the quarters.  When first starting the young or nervous horse an assistant can walk at the horses head, eventually stepping away leaving the horse to go solo.


For safety a skull cap or hard hat must be worn, together with loose fitting gloves to prevent burns should the horse panic and try to get away.  Safe and sensible footwear is a must to help give you a secure footing.  Once you venture out onto the road, fluorescent clothing for you and the horse is essential.  See and be seen!