How To Long Rein A Horse

How To Long Rein A Horse

Whether you’re an expert or a newcomer to all things equine, we’re willing to bet you’ve had your fair share of challenges in training your beloved four-footed companion.

Training is integral to horse ownership, building trust between horse and rider, and ensuring a safe and comfortable ride.

One trusted training method among horse enthusiasts is long reining – exercising and training young horses without being in the saddle, helping them get used to voice aids and their reins.

In this article, we explore long-reining, its advantages and disadvantages, and how you can use this method to take your horse training to the next level.

What Is Long Reining?

Long reining is a method of exercising and training your young horse from the ground.

With this method, there is no one in the saddle, allowing you to train the horse without the weight of a rider. It is integral to the breaking-in process, helping inexperienced horses get used to all the training and riding equipment.

Horses are also exposed to verbal cues and scenarios outside the training arena, helping build their confidence and getting them used to voice aids, steering, and braking.

The method is also perfect for already-trained, older horses that are recovering from injury.

What tools do I need for long-reining a horse?

To long-rein a horse, you need the following equipment:

  • A snaffle bridle (with the reins removed)
  • Roller with rings (these rings must be large enough for the long-rein clips to fit through)
  • A soft saddle pad or saddle
  • A pair of long-reins or two padded lunge lines

What Are the Steps For Long Reining A Horse?

Follow these steps to ensure you get the most out of your long-reining exercises:

  1. Take things slowly. Get an assistant to stand at the left side of the horse’s head. Expose the animal to the lines, gently moving the lines over its body. This helps the animal get used to the feel of it around their shoulders, ribs, and quarters.
  2. Attach the long reins. If the animal is comfortable with the equipment, pass the lines through the roller and attach them to the bit rings. Next, slip the long reins into place over their quarters.
  3. Find your position. Position yourself as close as possible to the horse outside its kicking range. Hold the lines in your hands as if you were on horseback, with your arms relaxed and elbows bent.
  4. Long reining the horse. Let your training assistant stay next to the horse’s head as you start the exercises. You’ll give the commands from behind the horse, guiding the animal as if you were riding them. Use a lunge whip for additional control.
  5. Change direction. As the animal’s confidence grows, ask your assistant to move away from the horse. Using the outside rein, keep the animal in a straight line. Next, guide the animal to change direction. The inside rein controls the bend, so use it as you’d use your inside leg, gently exerting pressure on the horse’s side to perform a bend or turn.Be creative in your leading – use half-halts and ask your horse for transitions and various shapes and movements. Use your outside line to control the speed and straightness of the bend.
  6. Walking on long reins: Finish each session by allowing the animal to walk on its long reins. This helps it stretch and cool down. As you near the end of the session, move back behind the animal, allowing it to halt.

Long Reining: The Pros And Cons

Like many horse training methods, long-reigning has a range of advantages and disadvantages:

Benefits of long reining a horse

The benefits of long reining a young horse include:

  • Improves fitness and suppleness
  • Helps your animal maintain a straight line while being ridden (using the outside rein)
  • Enhances the horse’s steering and braking responses (using the inside rein)
  • Helps build confidence in spooky horses
  • Aids trainers to work on specific areas without having a rider in the saddle

Disadvantages of long reining a horse

This low-stress exercise does have some disadvantages:

  • This method requires a certain level of stamina and fitness from the trainer.
  • Long reining may not be suitable for very young and inexperienced horses.
  • Another potential issue is that this technique requires a deep understanding of training techniques and equine behaviour on the part of the rider or trainer.

What Are The Alternatives To Long Reining?

Though very beneficial, this approach is not always suitable or feasible. Therefore, use these alternative methods to train your horse:


Lunging is done from the ground and uses a lead rope and lunge whip. Use your lunge line as a soft connection between the horse’s mouth and your hand. The animal is trained in a round pen, and the exercises focus on teaching the animal to move in rhythmic circles, helping it transition between gaits.

Lunging holds several benefits, including:

  • Helps burn off energy before a ride
  • Builds muscle strength
  • Helps improve a horse’s balance, coordination, and flexibility
  • Refines communication with the horse without the pressure of being mounted
  • Improves the rhythm or cadence of each gait
  • Helps detect lameness


Groundwork involves training the animal without a rider in the saddle and is one of the foundational forms of horse training.

It is essential in any horse’s training and lays the foundation for your communication, trust, and respect with the animal. Here, you focus on the basics like haltering, leading, tying, and standing while introducing verbal cues and commands to the trainee horse.

The benefits of groundwork include:

  • Strengthens the trainer’s bond with their animal
  • Improves the horse’s listening and command-following abilities
  • Boosts the animal’s confidence and reduces anxiety
  • Desensitises the horse from everyday situations and objects


Is long reining suitable for all horses?

The short answer is yes; however, it is generally recommended for young, inexperienced horses to break them in and introduce them to various riding equipment. As mentioned, this technique is also suitable for an older horse recovering from an injury.

How often should I long-rein my horse?

Experienced trainers recommend that you long-rein your horse at least once a week. Training a horse without a rider on its back allows you to work on specific areas without the pressure of having a rider on the animal.

Final Thoughts

Long reining is a great way to introduce your horse to riding concepts and equipment and is perfect for young, inexperienced horses that need breaking in.

Also great for horses recovering from injury, this training method removes the added pressure of having a rider on the animal’s back. These exercises help the trainee horse get used to your voice commands and rein contact. Horses can be long reined in straight lines, in an arena, or around tracks or fields.

It also helps to ask other trainers for tips and advice in building a long-term relationship of trust and communication with your horse, through long reining and other exercises.

Similar Posts