Longeing a horse is the act of sending it around you in a wide circle, attached to a long, light line, and controlling the horse's speed, direction, and distance from you. Roundpenning a horse is similar, but you rely on a fence and not a rope for boundaries.
Horse people often use longeing to "get the fresh out" before riding a horse, so the horse can buck and play before you get on. It can also be a very useful training tool in a lot of ways.
One of the common, and dangerous, problems a young horse will have that is addressed by longeing/roundpenning is an eye-changing problem. This is where a young horse feels insecure and wants to use one of their eyes to watch you at all times - if you ask them to turn away from that side they might spook, kick, or run. Obviously, you don't want that happening under saddle, so it is a good idea to get that taken care of at the beginning of training. That is one of the first steps in becoming a well-educated, well-rounded horse.
All horses have strengths and weaknesses, just like all people do, and it is SO satisfying to be able to help a horse get over a fear, develop a strength, and overcome a bad tendency! Horses are capable of such incredible things, and don't ever let anyone tell you they can't think - I have seen them stop and think something over very carefully. It is so cute how you can see the wheels turning in their heads!
My goal in training is not so much to produce a "well-trained" horse as it is to produce a "well-educated" horse. I think of the "well-trained" horse as one that knows it's job very well, while the "well-educated" one not only knows it's job, but it thinks about how to help you with yours. Examples: A cutting horse that "reads" a cow and controls it's direction and movement with no help from the rider; a babysitter horse that carefully watches small children to keep them from getting hurt; a trail horse that moves over next to a stump so you can easily get back on, etc.
But how does this relate to people?
Well, the older I get the more I realize how much God wants me to be well-rounded. This is NOT some self-improvement spiel - I'm talking about the simple fact that God wants to improve our strengths and fix our weaknesses. I hear a lot of talk about working with your strengths, and doing what you are good at, but it seems like people use that as an excuse to ignore their weaknesses. "Oh, I just can't help being grumpy before I've had my coffee in the morning." "I don't know how to talk to my friends about God, so I'll just pray for them." "I was born with a bad temper, so please just don't mind it when I blow up - I really don't mean to!" Etc., etc.... And I have my own little excuses and reasons why I don't need to work on this or that fault....
We also tend to do the same thing with things that are more... not neutral, maybe subtle? Like how much we read, pray, exercise---I keep thinking about the Greeks, and boy, they were really pretty smart about the whole "moderation in all things" bit.
But really, how pathetic is that, to go through life without ever sitting down and developing a personal worldview and belief system? I am not talking so much right now about moral convictions - we can thrash that out later. ;-D I'm talking more about convictions that shape how you view life and make decisions.
For example, one of my convictions that has come through much reading and talking, and yes praying, is that I want to be as healthy as I can be in all ways, and that part of the way to do that is by living sustainably. I make a lot of my decisions based on that conviction, rather than what other people think would be good, or how I might make the most money, or what would be easiest. By now, you may have figured out what my favorite word is…
I guess you could say that my philosophy is if something is worth doing, it's worth doing intentionally. Notice I am NOT saying "worth doing PERFECT. (Or even RIGHT - I make plenty of mistakes!)" I just believe that life is such a precious gift that I want to make the most of it.
What about you? Will you join me in my attempts to live intentionally?