Gord & Debbie Wadds
6605 W. Simpson Rd.
Ovid, MI 48866
Phone: (517) 927-2908
LONGE LINE CLASSES
by Gord Wadds
First Published in the Michigan Quarter Horse Journal
In an era where specialization and selective breeding have created some very nice-moving western pleasure, hunter under saddle and overall performance horses, an exciting new class for yearling performance prospects. It is exciting not only from the standpoint of being a new area of competition, but more importantly, has created a new showcase to market a very popular commodity - the naturally slow-legged, pretty-moving pleasure prospect of today.
From the perspective of the buyer, it allows "one-stop shopping." In most cases these yearlings or early two year olds have been schooled to a much higher degree in both response and consistency of speed. They have been groomed to optimum show condition, as well. As a result, the buyer can get a very accurate overview in a minute-and-a-half performance. This compares favorably to the interpretation of a pasture romp to the show ring.
First I will outline the physical requirements of the Longe Line class and then elaborate on how we prepare for a Futurity.
Horses are to be shown in a halter. Either a regular or show-type halter is acceptable. The only attachment a longe line may not exceed 30 feet in length with a chain or snap attached to the halter. The longe line must hang free from the halter without touching any part of the horse. It is permissible to use a longe whip.
Judges are positioned outside of the longing circle. The exhibitor enters the arena and awaits the whistle. When the whistle is blown the exhibitor is allowed one and a half minutes to present his/her horse. It is suggested that the horse walk, trot and lope in each direction, but it is not mandatory. The exhibitor may begin work in the direction (counter or clock wise) of his/her choice. At the end of one and a half minutes the whistle is blown and the exhibitor leaves the longing area. All horses are to remain in the arena after they have been longed and should stand quietly while other exhibitors are being judged, movement and 30% on their conformation. A pleasure horse should be a happy horse and a natural horse. Emphasis is placed on good movers, manners and attitude, as reflected in the horse's ears, mouth, tail and way of going. Judges are instructed to pay particular attention to the above mentioned and any attempt to alter the above is severely penalized.
Horses must be sound of sight, wind and limb. If a horse's chin or nose area show signs of broken skin, rawness or bleeding, the horse will be eliminated from the competition.
The walk should be comfortable, flat, and ground covering. The jog should be soft, relaxed and comfortable with a definite two beat. At no time should it resemble a running walk nor should it be rough and stilted. The speed and stride should be compatible with the horse's size. The lope should be soft, rolling and comfortable with strong emphasis on a natural three beat.
If the horse plays on the longe line, it is not counted against the horse. He is judged as though the pleasure prospect was playing in the fields.
After the longing competition is completed, the horses line up halter fashion and prepare for conformation judging. The judges may not discriminate for or against bulk, but rather look for a total picture, emphasizing balance and athletic capabilities.
Both the 70% of the score for the physical performance and the potential demonstrated within that performance, and the 30% conformation become a perfect study of the definition of conformation becomes in fact, "The relationship of form to function." It may be helpful to refer to my article, "Let's Find a Western Pleasure Winner," (March 1991 Issue, Michigan Quarter Horse Journal, p.42) which elaborates on desired conformation traits as they relate to movement.
Conventional, show-ring Western attire is mandatory.
Developing a young horse to make smooth, easy transitions, maintain a consistency of speed in all three gaits, and work both directions, in a minute and a half can become a fun project. It will also create an early foundation of understanding that will be of benefit through the entire program.
In order to begin with the correct training attitude, let me give you two references. The first one is my article, "Training the Western Pleasure Winner," (July 1991 Issue, Michigan Quarter Horse Journal, pp. 24 &25). The second reference that is a great help is John Lyons' video on "Round Pen Reasoning."
Learning communication with a horse will be greatly enhanced by studying this training attitude. It has been a strong influence on my foundation development of young horses. As in any discipline, we want to create a base of understanding in response to be able to demonstrate a calm, flat-footed walk. Equally important is an easy-moving, slow-legged, even two-beat cadence in the jog trot. We also want to demonstrate a low-to-the-ground, flat kneed and hocked, three-beat slow lope. The round pen is an invaluable aid in preparing the Longe Line horse. It is possible to prepare a young horse with training on the Longe Line alone, however, it is much easier to develop a mental bond of communication in the round pen. Even the simplest of construction can afford you an advantage. Our round pen is fifty three feet in diameter with solid oak sides up to five feet and then a six foot top rail.
The daily training should be limited to fifteen minute sessions. The trick is to do it EVERY DAY - not just once or twice a week. Good movement and response can be optimized by strength that comes from a regular routine.
Use the verbal commands of "Trot" and "Walk" for transitions down, and "cluck" to trot and "kiss" to lope for transitions up. Added to this will be body and whip pressures and releases to request responses. This is done in a similar fashion to the way we will cue once mounted.
Enroll in Gord Wadds online training course "Competitive Longe Line" - Click Here
Gord will be with you every step of the way, while you train your horse to longe.