Monday, August 1, 2011

Hank Hutson long lining clinic: A report

On June 19 the Lehigh Valley Dressage Association sponsored a long lining clinic with
Hank Hutson at Graystone Equestrian Center. Hank is an experienced eventer (competed at Rolex) who now focuses on dressage. He operates out of the Hassler facility, and he is known for his ability to deal with hot/difficult horses. In this clinic he demonstrated his expertise and tact with long lining a variety of horses with a mix of long lining experience.

My husband and I watched several long lining sessions. I enjoyed watching Hank “read” each horse’s personality and their strengths and weaknesses quickly. Hank worked with a horse at our barn, a personal favorite of mine, Pilot. He's got tons of personality and talent, and when you turn him out he has a naughty habit of bolting before you can get his lead rope off. You can forgive a lot in a horse this special. Initially Pilot was nervous, and I wondered how much they would be able to accomplish when he was so tense. They progressed quickly, though, and when Pilot offered a stunning collected canter Hank said “We can see you’re ambitious, Pilot!” Toward the end Pilot was piaffeing down the long side. Hank commented “I know it’s corny, but I feel like I’m riding him.”
Bob and I sat in front of an open door (garage door size) to watch, and Bob commented that it wasn't safe -- a horse could barrel through -- and some of the horses really were a little excited. Well, we left after a few hours, and I later heard that Bob was right. A horse took off out the doors, with spectators scattering like bowling pins. Hank followed and they longlined for a bit outside, then down the barn aisle, and back into the arena. Cool dude!


  1. I would love to see video of the escape and how the clinician hung on! I long lined my mare throughout her 2nd year, and she got away from me several times - once she got away into a 10 acres pasture on me. Just had to wait her out till she decided to come back to me.

  2. I think Pilot feels the same way about Hutson riding him. Horses may not be verbal, but it was clear that Pilot understood the constant feedback and encouragement. I liked that he chooses to use the same type of whip for long lining that I do. This makes me want to get out and the lines again soon. Darn heat.

  3. I love long lining...knees are making that difficult too, however.

    I am glad to see someone else with both lines going through rings on the top of the surcingle. So many people have the outside line down and behind the horse. I find that rather awkward and much prefer the lines up.

    Looks like a great clinic. And I agree, when the horse goes well on the lines, you do almost feel as if you are riding.

  4. Now that is COOL!!! I do not understand how the horse knows what to do, like Piaffe, without cues from seat and legs. I never heard the clinician tell him to piaffe, he just did it. What magic is this? Or maybe Pilot has been long-lined before and knew what was going on?
    What a gorgeous horse, too. I'd love to sit on a high-level dressage horse like that just once to see what it feels like.

  5. RiderWriter -
    I've ridden 2 PSG horses before and both were in their 20's - both were FIRECRACKERS - both TRIED to buck me off just to see if they could (I was warned that both would try) but man once they were warmed up and you knew what you were doing, it was awesome. Both were super bendy and very fluid. But both required precision or they would flat out refuse to do what you wanted.


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