Long and Low

This is what we looked like... courtesy of Yahoo image search for "long and low."

I managed to ride twice last week despite the abysmal rain and general dreariness of the weather. I actually like rain, but I don’t like the  muddy pastures and soggy arenas that result. We’ve been riding down residential streets and Baron has been a champ about confronting all manner of terrifying spectres, such as dogs and trucks. Satan’s chihuahuas love to bark at us and fling themselves willy nilly at their chain-link fence. It’s amazing how much noise such small dogs can make.

Yesterday Baron was kind of being a butthead and didn’t want to go very far away from the barn. I let him turn around, but I made him work in the arena so he wouldn’t get the idea that he could quit early. We did circles in both directions and then I tried an experiment. At the trot, I held my reins down low by his shoulders and wide apart. I’ve heard that would encourage him to drop his head and go “long and low.”

It worked! He gave me a very nice, even trot and dropped his head down like he was sniffing the arena dirt. He went around with his head low in a nice stretchy trot for several minutes. After a particularly good stretch, I hopped off to reward him.

It’s so fun to be able to influence him with my riding. Instead of being constantly hung up on my leg position or some other position flaw, it’s nice to be in a place where I’m riding well enough to  make changes that influence my horse positively. I still have such a long road ahead to be a competent rider, but it’s rewarding to see progress. And without a proper arena at that!

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One thought on “Long and Low

  1. kshai1715 January 23, 2012 / 10:20 pm

    I love long and low, my horses love long and low, and it’s amazing how many people do not do it. Long & low does so many things, it brings the horse’s back up, gets them moving truly forward and actually working, tracking their back legs up under them, and it is the start to true roundness.

    I drive now a days, no longer ride, but still of course strive for long & low laps in our work outs. I get moments of true beauty, long, low, foward, and really working. It’s amazing the difference you can feel when that head start to comes up, or when I ask for more roundness and get the frame and poll flexion I want from there.

    I was always taught like this…. “Imagine if you have just taken your horse out on a long trail ride. He’s sweaty, tired,and you’ve just turned him home. He starts to pick up his pace, stretch his neck down, and really head off, without “bolting”, he’s just finally moving out. That is the point when your horse just started working.”

    I strive to get that, although it really does take the whole drive before I achieve it!

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