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collection-on-the-longe-line-3When our horse is well prepared thanks to groundwork, longeing is the next step.

Longeing is also an important training pillar of Straightness Training and it consists of different exercises.

The end result of performing these longeing exercises is a well-moving horse prepared for riding.

Read more about the different longeing exercises and the 14 characteristics of a well-moving horse in this article.

Why longeing?


It is important to spend a lot of time doing longeing exercises before riding your horse. Like a rough diamond that first needs to be polished, the young horse first needs to be ‘suppled up’ on the longe. In this time the horse can build up its fitness, develop its muscles and find balance in all gaits. Those who invest this extra time in longeing in the first few months of training will be rewarded throughout the horse’s education.

The goal of longeing is to exercise the horse on both reins. The horse is asked to walk with lateral bending while placing its inside hoof under the center of mass. Because of the stretched outside muscles, the horse releases tension in its back and moves in a forward-down position.

Central theme: LFS

The structural theme in longeing are the first 3 keys of straightness training:

Longeing1. Lateral bending

The horse on the circle must bend evenly in its body. When the horse has found the proper lateral bending, the circle will be perfectly round.

2. Stepping under

With a correct bending of the body, the inside hip will come forward, thus making the inside leg move forward under the point of weight.

3. Forward down

When the horse bends laterally, the back muscles are relaxed. This makes the horse lower its head and the neck is relaxed, forward down.

LongeingOn both reins, the horse is asked to walk with correct lateral bending, which makes it release its back muscles. Also, it brings forward the inside hip so that the inside hind leg can step under the point of weight. This is done in walk, trot and canter. When the horse has learned to move with these three elements –LFS- on the longe, you will have made a great step forward in the education of the horse.

When the LFS is correct, the horse moves in a balanced way and with a correct forward-down position of head and neck. This makes the use of side-reins unnecessary.


Longeing is done using a cavesson and a longe line. The line is attached to the middle ring of the cavesson.

On the longe, the horse will start with the familiar groundwork exercises and than teach the horse some new exercises:

1. Forward-down at a stand still

The first groundwork exercise we present the horse is to bring its head and neck forward-down. Every longeing session you start with this exercise, also with an advanced horse. You can check very easy how the horse’s stiffness and suppleness is and you can relax the horse.

2. Stelling & bending at a stand still

In the second groundwork exercise, stelling and bending is asked of the horse. You can read more about these first two exercises in the section Groundwork.

3. LFS in hand

The third exercise is to ask the horse to move on a circle with correct lateral bending, a forward-down position of head and neck and a hind leg that steps under. While in this exercise, stelling is asked through the cavesson, and at the same time, the head is asked forward down. Wth a very gentle tap of the whip you can activate the inside hind leg to step under in the moment the hind leg is in the air.

4. LFS on the bigger circle

After the horse has learned through the first three exercises to step under, walk forward down and maintain the correct bending, it can now be taught to walk further away from the trainer on a bigger circle.

Longeing Longeing

5. Other exercises

When the horse can maintain the LFS in walk, it can be asked to do this in trot and in canter. When the horse can maintain the LFS in all three gaits, non-progressive transitions such as from stop to trot and from canter to walk can be executed.


LongeingIn longing, we can teach our horse the following exercises:

  • Basic transitions such as walk-trot, trot-canter
  • Speeding up and slowing down within a gait
  • Stop
  • Transitions such as stop-trot, canter-walk
  • Changing the lead through the circle (by making a S over the middle)

6. Collection

Once our horse has learned all exercises and masters the six keys of Straightness Training, we can also develop collection on the longe:

collection-on-the-longe-line-2 collection-on-the-longe-line

14 Characteristics of a well-moving horse

The end result of correct longe work is a well-moving horse prepared for riding. A well-moving horse has the following characteristics:

  1. Bends equally from head to tail and yields easily to the pressure of the longe.
  2. Has a forward-down tendency in its head and neck.
  3. Steps under its point of weight with its inside hind leg.
  4. Moves in a balanced way, with a horizontal equilibrium.
  5. Moves in a supple and relaxed manner.
  6. Moves equally well to the left and to the right.
  7. Moves with a controlled speed.
  8. Moves fluently.
  9. Moves lightly.
  10. Moves with a clean rhythm and tact. In walk the horse has a clean four-beat tact, in trot a clean two-beat and in canter a clean three-beat.
  11. Moves regularly: the time and length of each step is the same.
  12. Has a relaxed tail.
  13. Has a friendly moving of the ears, the inside ear is focused on the longeur.
  14. Has a satisfied, friendly and relaxed look in its eyes.

Longe frequently with the saddle. When the horse has mastered all longing exercises, gained better fitness and muscles, and is well-moving, the riding training can then begin.

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8 thoughts on “Longeing

Comment author said

By Horseperson on 22 April 2013 at 15:46

Another excellent reason for correct longing is that the inside hind leg takes up the inner legs length of stride by bending its inside hind leg joints more so as not to step on the heel of the inside fore. That’s why the rhythm can remain the same. The horse automatically figures this out. By having the inner hind leg joints bend more, they are suppled and able to ‘carry’ more weight upon them. This also is what helps the horse to find its balance in all 3 gaits in both directions. Another point is that when the horse is ideally balanced in all 3 gaits in both directions, the circle track will remain narrow. If the horse is not yet as balanced as one may want, the track of the circle will be wide…….horseperson


Comment author said

By Mark on 22 April 2013 at 15:48

I really enjoy your articles, thank you! However, I can’t be sure what the word “stelling” means (I only speak English), and you also use the acronym LFS in the article without saying what it means in the first instance. It would be great if you could explain these two terms.

Thanks again for all the great information!!

Best regards,



Comment author said

By Louise Reynolds on 22 April 2013 at 17:21

LFS is the 3 basic requirements which are Lateral Bending, Forward-Down, and Stepping Under. All of these are needed for Straightness Training and are covered by the exercises described above.
Hope that helps. Try downloading one of Marijkes free books – they are really good.


Comment author said

By Dawn S. on 22 April 2013 at 16:18

I love the she breaks every stage down in a detailed format that anyone can understand! She is very thorough and gives great visual aids. And the fact that she is teaching lounging as a positive warm up that centers the horse, and prepares his mind positively instead of mindless circles and drilling of the horse. Good job!


Comment author said

By Louise Reynolds on 22 April 2013 at 17:24

I would like clarification of ‘Stelling’ too please – I understand it is something to do with the bending of particular vertebrae but why is is different to lateral bending?


Comment author said

By Anouk on 22 April 2013 at 23:32

Lateral bending is from head to tail, stelling is only from poll to last cervical vertebra. Stelling is the first step of preparing for a turn when riding, I guess a very free translation would be ‘pointing’ (the horse’s nose in the right direction). In this particular article it would simply be bending of the neck.


Comment author said

By Petra on 4 February 2018 at 12:00

One question remains openly:

In the forward-downward movement, the horse falls continuously on its forehand. How can that prevented in the here shown lunging exercise?


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