Fancy trying long-reining with your horse, but wondering about the right way to introduce it? Classical dressage trainer and author Claire Lilley shares her advice on long-reining.

A lot can be achieved from long-reining, even when a horse is beyond the initial breaking in stage. It can help to build trust, and you can do pretty much everything from the ground that you do in the saddle, while also observing your horse’s movement and responses.

Your horse needs to have gone through each stage of training, so long-reining is something he remembers and is comfortable with.

If this isn’t the case, I would begin with in-hand work where you work alongside your horse instead. You can use in-hand reins for this before progressing to long-reins.

Try lungeing on a circle with a long-rein on each side (the outside one coming around the quarters) before expecting your horse to be OK with you behind him.

Remember that horses have a blind spot directly behind, so working slightly to the side can avoid shocking him at the sudden sight of you. Talk to your horse and reassure him as you encourage him forwards.


Move around the arena and change direction regularly. Allow for straight line work and circles for variety.

Allow natural movement and rhythm; nothing artificial is beneficial. Moving too fast causes tension; too slow will not develop muscle.

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