Starting a Horse: Bits and Long Lining

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Starting a Horse: Bits and Long Lining

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  • Starting a horse
  • Long-lining a horse w/ butt rope setup

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    06-04-2013, 10:04 PM
Starting a Horse: Bits and Long Lining

I want to start out by saying I apologize if these questions have been asked before. I skimmed a bit and didn't find anything, and my searches came up with too many matches.

I have a four year old paint gelding who has his basic ground manners down (for the most part). I am at the point in which I am hoping to back him in the next month or so, but have hit a kind of snag. He will be the first horse that I have started from the ground up. I know what I am doing for the most part and have people who have started horses before to help me, but I know very little about bits, and next to nothing about long lining. I'd like to get a bit of information on here because I'd like to make educated decisions about my horse rather than simply blindly following what friends tell me to do.

Question number one. What bit do you find to be best the start a horse in? Full cheek, D ring, loose ring, egg butt, etc? Single/double jointed snaffle? Something completely different? He has had a bit in his mouth a few times, a full cheek single jointed snaffle, as the last girl working with him got as far as saddling and bridling. Lunging him in it didn't go the greatest though, and he just doesn't seem to be comfortable with it. He is constantly mouthing it and king of hanging his mouth open. I believe full cheeks are good for teaching steering, but I was thinking about going with a french link, would that be a good idea? I also think his current bit is a little too thick for his mouth, so that might be part of the issue.

Question number two. I know next to nothing about long lining, but I would like to include it as a step in our training. I do not plan on attempting it by myself. The previous girl working with him (she owns him as of now until I get settled in my new place and purchase a new car) has extensive experience starting horse and as used long lining in the past. However, I would like to have a general understanding of how it works, and how to train a horse to do so. So I'd love to hear your stories, instructions, pros/cons and so on.

Anyway, thanks for reading if you did (sorry for the essay). And thank you ahead of time for any input you may have :]
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    06-04-2013, 10:26 PM
About the bits it just depends on the horse. Some horses like straight bar snaffle others like french links. You just have to try a few and see how your horse works in the bit. About the long lining you are smart to have some one show you or have someone do it for it. Long lining can be dangerous if the horse does not know whats going on. Let alone if you don't know what you are doing it can be bad. When we have students that come over to learn how to work with the horses. We start them off with a horse that knows what to do. Then later on when there hands get better we put them with a horse that is still learning.
    06-05-2013, 02:38 AM
Which bit to start a horse in? Well I don't start out with a bit, until the horse is reliable & responsive in a halter, but then whatever bit is the most comfortable for that horse.

Long reining is like lunging(well, the way I lunge) but with 2 reins & you can be beside or behind the horse. It is a method that will get the horse used to your cues from wherever you are in relation to his body. I'd desensitise him well to ropes all over him first, but then if he already leads, lunges & drives well, shouldn't be a stretch to start ground driving.
    06-05-2013, 03:18 AM
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I start mine in either a full cheek or a large ringed bit. This helps them understand turning as they get the pressure on the side of the mouth. I like either a straight bar or french link.

As for long lining. Have the horse lungeing and then introduce the second rein. Some horses do not like the rein going over their hocks so you can get them over this prior to introducing the second line by tying a rope from the roller/saddle so it goes over their hocks.

Once the horse is happy with the two reins you start to introduce turning on the lunge by asking for the horse to turn away from you.
Then start asking the horse to go straight rather than on the circle.
Some horses, when you disappear behind them will panic slightly and cases like this I will be behind them but to the side so they can see me and then get them use to me being behind them.

Driving is great fun. Many the mile I have put in behind a young horse!

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