Long Reining: The Saumur MethodLong Reining: The Saumur Method by Philippe Karl
I was first introduced to long reining by a neighbor who had learned of it while his US Army father was stationed in France. I was 12, and tall enough to throw the reins over my pony’s croup. Lacking for proper equipment, or even a source of proper equipment, we attached reins to a snaffle, and ran them through run-up irons, and walked and trotted a respectful distance behind our ponies. And accomplished nothing. Unable to understand the merit of the exercise, I stuck with lungeing and riding. Which was lucky for my horses, because knowing what I know now, I realize I could have innocently done a lot of damage.

When this book came out, 30 years later, I bought, loved and studied it. Thrilled by the gorgeous images, I had the proper equipment MADE, and then discovered that although my horses benefitted immensely from loosening and stretching the dorsal ligament by going long and low in low reins attached to a cavesson But I could not progress my own technique, or theirs, because even at 6’1 and fully able, I could not flip the reins over the croup of 17.2 hand hand horses at trot, much less canter. Put the book back on the shelf.

Eventually a very promising prospect came to me, who I realized truly needed long-reining. He was a more manageable 16.1. So I girded myself, delved into this book and proceeded, cautiously, to let the horse teach me long-reining technique. In the spirit of a game, that the horse could and did win every session. For our mutual benefit.

Just last summer came to me another young horse whose bone structure predicted athletic movement, but whose earlier training had imposed an upside down posture on his movement. I knew that if I did not reform him from the ground before riding, his schooling time-line would be doubled if not tripled, so I was glad to have taken the time to learn correct technique previously. Still, last summer’s horse was not an easy study. I’ll publish his journal soon.  I could not have reformed that horse without having studied Karl, I am sure. I doubt he would even be sound now, 18 months later.

Whether you think you might ever long-rein a horse, or not, I recommend you have a long look at this book, if only to enjoy the photographs. And if you look long enough at these stills, you will see that they capture the footman’s posture in the same position as when influencing the same movement of the horse astride!!!!!! Perfectement. Absolutement perfectement!

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