Lounge Lizard to Pegasus – Using The Round Pen to Develop The Gas Pedal in Your Horse

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Round Pen You Say? Like I said in last Tuesdays blog- this is something I have never suggested before, but in this case it can be effective when needing to increase your horse’s gas pedal. Use the round pen only if it resonates with you to use it. Next Tuesday I will have another game for you to use that will help motivate your horse’s herding instincts at liberty that you might want to wait for.

When a horse has lost his natural herding instincts it makes it impossible to dance at liberty with him. In today’s blog I am going to talk about how to use the round pen to return the natural herding instincts of a horse to respond to a driving aid. When you start with this exercise, I am setting it up so that the horse can see that we are wanting to bring back his herding response from a friendly approach. You initiate the game like you would surprise a friend with a good game of “Boo! I can catch you!” that would develop into a game of tag.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll Keep the lesson short, and use body language that would send a horse away like shooing baby chicks back to the hen house. Use anything that would surprise your horse to get him to move with exuberance. Choose an aid that would not be too threatening to him but would get a good response. You could choose to swirl a rope, shake a plastic bag on the end of a lunge whip, or some sort of cracking sound. You could start by shaking a balloon in your hand, and if your horse does not respond to that, you could twist the balloon creating a sound that would activate him. With the right amount of energy expressed through your body language, and by sending him a telepathic message of your intent along with the aid you choose should encourage the response you are wanting to generate. Remember, we want to encourage not alienate.

Continued Pressure is No Longer a Game As soon as you get your horse moving, stop whatever sound you are creating as well as your pursuit. Wait for him to completely relax. Once he is relaxed, praise him and feed him a carrot if he responds with good energy from your driving request. You can repeat this exercise until he seems to have the idea. By stopping the sounds and your pursuit teaches him that he can get away from your driving influence. When he learns this, he will see it as a fun game. Little by little, each time ask him to go faster by keeping the sound going longer, but only pursue for 5 seconds at the most. Continued pursuit is no longer a game. Be careful to work within the zone of what would create a greater response and not hurt the bond and would bring out the play attitude in your horse. To keep pressing him for a long period is not good. It is too aggressive. You do not want your horse to develop Stockholm Syndrome which is to falsely bond to the one who has him captured.

Round Pens Do Not Replace the Benefits of Liberty Work Working horses in small spaces like a round pen can be very effective in the right hands, but it does not in any way replace developing a relationship with a horse at liberty. When we begin with the initial training of a horse, we need to first focus on the relationship at liberty without a horse needing to perform any act. (These are all of the things that you will be learning with me in the Insider Circle and Extended Circle Programs coming up in May). We are focused on polite conduct during intimate interactions around food and Sharing Territory. Our first focus is on growing the bond, then we focus on develop the trust, followed by focusing on developing respect. When these Heart Felt Strings of Connection are shared between you and your horse, a spontaneous magnetic connection will magically occur. To have this connection will be the most exciting part of the cross-species bond. When this happens, you want to practice with this connection so that your leadership will become smooth and inviting and the dance is natural and easy to follow like a dance partner. From this point, you can work on developing the call up and send out at liberty. By building your relationship in this manner at liberty your horse is well prepared and has a strong desire to learn traditional training methods using tack for any and all equestrian pursuits.

Personal Growth and Understanding as a Leader Developing a relationship with your horse at liberty in this way grows your understanding of the individual horse you are working with. This will cause you to develop a deep understanding for all horses needing to be dealt with from their own individual point of view- and you will know how to go about it! You will love how liberty training develops you as a horse communicator and trainer as you experience fully the relationship you can have with your dream horse.

I have offered these exercises to help you and your sleeping dragon to qualify for the Insider Circle or Extended Circle programs starting May 1st 2011 so that you and your horse can experience all the benefits of Liberty Training™ through developing a cross-species bond.

I look forward to hearing about new horse and human sightings!

Have a Great Weekend!

Carolyn