Circling Is Not Longeing

Here is a summary and some notes on Circling Is Not Longeing by Linda Parelli
(November 2011 Savvy Times, Pg. 60)

  • Keep your feet still vs. walking in circles with your horse.
    • If you walk circles with your horse while he circles this acts as more of a Driving Game.
    • Your movement is stimulating the horse, causing or supporting your horse's continued movement.
    • Your horse's responsibility is to maintain gait/direction on the circle without coaxing from you.  There is a Send, an Allow, and a Bring Back for the Circling Game - by standing still and staying in neutral you are executing a proper Allow.
  • Keep your hand in neutral.
    • Do not hold your arm up and lead on your horse's halter.  Let your arms hangs by your side and pass the rope around your body and behind your back, letting the horse bring the rope to your next hand as he comes around.
    • By allowing your arm to hang it puts some elasticity in the rope if your horse drifts in and out on the circle.  If the horse drifts out it will lift your arm and it will drop naturally as he comes back in.  This will help him become more consistent with his shape on the circle.
  • Have some fun!
    • Playing on-line is a warm up for your horse so allow him to express himself.
    • Progressively give him things to think about rather than getting too concerned about the shape of his body or how he is carrying himself.
    • As the circles become more interesting he'll naturally start to use his body more efficiently.  If you're too particular too soon then it becomes more like training vs. a warm up/game.
  • Think about how you can make the Circling Game more interesting by doing things like:
    • Walking from point A to point B while your horse circles around you (Traveling Circles)
    • Asking for upward and downward transitions on the circle; you can even ask for different speeds within the gaits.  Put a little energy in front of Zone 1 to slow down (light, vertical wiggle of the rope/Carrot Stick) and behind Zone 5 to speed up (use your Stick/String out behind you, then to the side, then toward the horse - don't just aim for spanking him right away).  
      • When it comes to Introverts, asking them to go as slow as possible can be really fun and good reverse psychology that actually makes them want to go faster!
    • Put an obstacle in the way (pole, jump, barrels, something to go through/between, tarp, hill, water, etc)
    • Changes of direction at any gait - changes of direction help calm a nervous horse and get them thinking, they help make things more interesting for a Left Brain horse.  They're also a good way to help build energy on the circle.
    • After a certain number of laps do something unexpected - ask for sideways, to touch something with his nose/feet.  Works well for Left Brain horses but may be startling for Right Brain horses.
  • Make it a Game!
    • When your horse doesn't do what you want it's common to get frustrated.  Try to think to yourself "How interesting!" or "Oh Boy, I get to practice my (fill in the blank) again!"
    • Consider standing in the center, relaxed and in neutral (leg cocked, arms down), and dare your horse to break gait or change directions!  It's quite a different feeling to think "I can't wait for my horse to break gait" as opposed to "Stop breaking gait!!!!!".  When your horse does break gait do something about it - not before he does it.  He needs to be allowed to make the mistake so he can learn rather than be micromanaged.  
      • When you do something about it remember to have a plan and act fairly.  If your horse is an extrovert he will most likely break up in gait (faster), if he's an introvert he'll most likely break down in gait (slower).  
      • If he breaks up in gait gently flick your Carrot Stick way back in Zone 5 as if to say "Yeah! You need to go faster, let me help you!"  
      • If he breaks down in gait instead of trying to send him forward again ask for a change of direction.  If he's a Right Brain Introvert, ask gently for the right gait as he makes the change.  If he's a Left Brain Introvert once he's reversed direction tag the ground in Zone 5 just as he passes you - that means you need to run forward to that spot.
  • If he goes faster or slower within the gait don't do anything!  Only do something and come out of neutral if he breaks gait.

Remember Zone 1 and Zone 5 extend a mile ahead of and behind the horse respectively. 
On a circle Zones 1 and 5 meet at some point.