When I started working with Marley, he was extremely out of shape and in need of a major tuneup. We focused a lot on groundwork paired with light flatwork for the first month or two, and even though we’re riding more now I still believe there is a place for groundwork and time on the longe.
I did not longe my horses much growing up – perhaps I should have, because one in particular was a rocket ship! – so there has been a learning curve for me. I definitely have moments where keeping track of the whip, 35 feet of longe line, and a 1200-lb horse is more than I can handle gracefully. Happily, Marley is well schooled and knows his voice commands, even if he occasionally chooses to ignore “canter”. I keep sessions on the longe short and try to focus on one specific thing – usually transitions. We’ve also been tightening up the Vienna reins a bit to work on his bend and give him a chance to build strength, particularly at the canter. As a bonus this gives me a change to see how he’s moving and using his body.
Time permitting, I’d like to focus on groundwork maybe once or twice per week. At the moment, we’re definitely closer to once per week given my work schedule and limited daylight!