Thursday, May 8, 2008

Round-Pen Reasoning or Lack Thereof




Today I arrived early enough for my dressage lesson that I had time for a really good grooming and some ground work. I am a fan of the round pen for seeing what I have to work with on that day, for setting ourselves up for success with a calm session of join-up etc., but I encounter a problem sometimes which I'm hoping someone might be able to help me with.

Here is how we start out, with my OTTB Montana on any typical day:


Then as he gets warmed up and muscles nice and loose, the trot gets bigger and springier; all good, right??



Then we do a little join-up, horse-follow-closely this PonyGirl etc., feet pickups, and general stroking "I am your comfort zone" stuff.

Back to work but things start to get a little more interesting; he is sniffing the air and I love the way he shows his noble Arab ancestry, but I know he is thinking thoughts of how spiffy he's feeling:



And then we get this type of thing:




And while I am saying, "HUP-hoa" and trying to project calming vibes with my body language, he goes on to this:



And then we get a bit of this:



And I believe at this point he is apt to damage himself in the small circle that a roundpen presents.

There have been days when he just bucks and farts and gallops around the roundpen at a solid slant until he is too tired to move, and then we have the fake 'join-up' of a tired horse and a relieved human.

Is there a way to keep the buckey/slantey/gallop phase from ever starting up in the first place?

11 comments:

Mrs Mom said...

Nice to see someone working on the ground before mounting up! TB's are insanely intelligent-- when you get him to the "springy" stage, change things up a little bit. He might just be looking for a change in his routine there. Lots of direction changes, transitions, stop and back, add in a ground pole, etc. Halter him, and ask for stretches too- and some in hand backing. That might just help smooth things out there for you!

Best of luck- he is a good looking fellow!

Flying Lily said...

Thanks! He does like changes under saddle so I will certainly try the changes here too. A ground pole would really help engage his mind, as would direction changes - take away that bucketing forward thing. Great ideas and I will try them out tomorrow morning; thanks again!!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Mrs Mom gave you the same advise I would have. Sometimes these guys just get bored and you have to make them work a little bit to keep them focused on you. Whenever I have a horse that starts ignoring me, I do a lot of direction changes. Not soft easy ones-quick and attention getting.
Sometimes I will move into their space and make them move forward and then I will cut across the pen and ask for a whoa. If they are wanting to cant away, I ask them to move again and whoa-until they stop square and look at me. Then you can ask him to roll over his hocks and move the other direction.
I always ask my horses to turn into the center of the pen, but some people don't care if they turn away. I don't like it if they roll away from me. I always want the head facing and the butt away. That has always made it easier to catch a horse too. Seems if they are trained to whoa and look at you-you can catch them anywhere(if you can get them to look at you-LOL).
Have fun and change it up a little...

halfpassgirl said...

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20 meter circle of life said...

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Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lostine gets like that sometimes. I'm afraid she will break a leg at that pace. Half the time she's looking around to see if the other horses are watching her show off, and then she crashes into the railing. I put a long line on her, and if she still ignores my cues to slow down, I'll step in front of her and wave my arms to get her to turn. If your horse is good at turning without having to go to those extremes, you can turn him sooner and sooner from each side until he's hopping like a cutting horse. That'll get his attention on you.

sue said...

when Tonka gets this way (yes I know he's a drafty, but he can move!!) my trainer always suggests change of direction and mixing up it.. just like everyone else has already suggested... these blogs are great, not only are they "entertaining" but I learn so much from everyone's suggestions!!! thanks, it keep the old brain thinking....

Flying Lily said...

Thank you all for the "change it!" advice. It is working VERY well and I think I am getting a generally more listening horse - great results!

naturalhorseman said...

Hey I just came across your blog and am SO happy! I do that silly ground work stuff to, and to see you do it before mounting, YEAH! I hope more people catch on to the importance of that. Anyway, I would've given the same advice to change directions more often.

My blog is new and I'm feeling my way around here. Maybe you could stop by and say hey sometime. I'll be coming back here to read more stories!

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sulman farooq said...

I am very satisfied with my 60 ft. diameter round pen. I only use it to work my horses, never as turn out! Round pen panels
I firmly believe that horses need pasture for turnout. Not a small confined space. They are healthier if they can self-exercise. Sure, my guys might get a cut now and then, but they are so much happier being out all day in a 50 acre turn out.