Now you have worked with your leading exercises and groundwork and it feels like it is finally time to start longeing. How do you do then?
Start working the horse a bit in groundwork and when you have a nice moment you carefully move down beside the horse and turn, belly facing belly. Walk close enough that you can easily use your whip on the horse if needed. In the beginning we walk along with the horse as the circle will otherwise be too small, when we are that close. Then we may have to turn slightly forwards in order not to stumble on our own legs as it is difficult to walk fully sideways.
If the horse finds it strange to walk along you on a bit of a distance, vocally urge the horse on and praise it a lot when taking a step. Try another step and praise a lot! Do you walk very close to your horse and cannot move away from it? Raise your whip against the inner hind leg and ask it to move one step away from you while walking. Praise a lot! Gradually continue to move the horse away from you so that you can use your long whip on a comfortable distance, where you still reach your horse. In the beginning we just want the horse to understand to move along with us while being positioned around its belly, approximately where your leg will be when riding. The loser you are to your horse the more you have to walk so the circle will not be too small. When both you and your horse are more experienced you move the horse further away from you and finally the circle is big enough for you to stand in the middle and move the horse around you.
When the horse understand to move around you on a circle it is time to look at the shoulder in and quarter in. Is it still possible to do a shoulder in? Turn your body to move the inner hind leg out and to invite the outer shoulder in, just like you did in groundwork. Add the whip in the inner leg position and give an impulse when the inner hind leg is in the air. Only when the leg is in the air we can affect its direction. Maybe you need to give an impulse in your hand to ask for better stelling? Did it work? Fantastic! Return to bended straight and then try a quarter in. Turn your body to invite the outer hind leg inwards and move the inner shoulder out, just like you did in groundwork. Lift your whip over the back of the horse against the outer hind leg if needed.
Sometimes it is enough to show the whip in the leg aid position without actually touching the horse, regardless of inner or outer leg. You constantly want to work on improving your own and the horse´s sensitivity to the aids, so when the horse has a basic understanding of them, start by adding the whip in the air next to the horse, if that doesn’t work add a soft pressure on the hose and if that doesn’t work add more force to get a reaction. You must always start very softly though, to give the horse a chance to learn to react to a soft signal. If you constantly add a lot of force you will always have to do this as the horse learns this is the signal. Then you have taught your horse not to listen to a soft signal. When not using the whip to give a signal, angle it down toward the ground so the horse will not constantly get pressured by it if you unconsciously wave it around while walking.
- Walk belly to belly, in the position of your leg aid.