Sounds like you just applied too much pressure and the horse saw no other way to escape.
If the horse really cannot turn right for whatever reason and in response she got backed across the pen, or driven hard as you put it the other way, then ultimately you gave her no other option.
If I may use your story as an example to reiterate some points I feel very strongly about in general. (and these are not aimed at you in anyway but just to try and share some things for people to consider who read this)
Round pens if used incorrectly have a huge propensity to cause harm. That is why I dislike them so much because I see them so misused, or rather used without consideration for the animal.
Firstly even for a small horse 50' is nothing. That puts you well within their personal space and unable to remove yourself from it to provide relief. communication is therefore immediately limited and the context set.
Secondly cantering or even trotting on such a circle is stressful physically on the horse. Worse still a round pen allows NO relief. If you work a horse in a field or a square arena at least it flexes and straightens, flexes and straightens. In a round pen it has to stay bent. You try running in a circle or running leaning to one side. You won't last long I can assure you. Not only that but it's the action of the flex, not the maintenance of the flex that creates improved flexibility. So we want them to get relief.
Then there's the psychological factor. By it's very nature we risk launching the horse into flight mode.
Finally the horse cannot escape so people risk too much pressure, plus in reality when the horse can escape it will, whether that be physical escape, running over the trainer, or worst of all mental shut down and introversion. The very horses that submit to this the easiest and the very ones who need round penning the least, and the ones who suffer the most sickening abuse.
I hear expressions such as make the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy. That's fine. Sometimes. Unfortunately if often sits alongside a distorted attitude that horse are lazy, or wont do something because it all about dominating us and other tripe. People often fail to consider that sometimes the right things isn't easy and it's not possible to make it easy. Applying more and more pressure to make the undesirable harder just means that the horse will consider ever more dangerous ways of release. Just as your horse did.
I am just pleased neither of you are injured (I presume).
As for a solution? Start at the basics. Watch your horse free. Watch it's movement. The directions it chooses, the way it holds itself. If something gets it's attention how does it look at it? I have discovered that horses have a preferred eye for different things, but that with development it can be changed. For example a horse will spook and consider something say with the right eye. But then when they are excited in a fun way will look with their left eye. Is this the brain? I dont believe so. I believe it is down to physiological balance and lateral preference. As supporting evidence I notice that once a horse has become truly flexible and exhibits less lateral prejudice so they spook differently and will approach or consider an object head on, much as we would with our binocular vision.
Look at Tellingtons leading work. Or Peggy Cummings. Lead the horse through the right turns, serpentines, angle poles etc. Then work up to reverse yields into a turn. Then onto lunging but with at the very minimum a 25ft line with you walking a 6-10' circle and only trot. Finally tape off an area within an arena or whatever (80-100) foot and only ask for the canter within such a space, walking an oval so the horse can flex and release, then flex again at the corner.
Finally video yourself. Watch what you are doing and how the horse responds. Is it consistent? Is it light enough? Start to feel what you see in yourself, that way you will recognise how you look when you are doing it without needing to see video anymore because you become more self aware. Much of our problems as humans are because we have so little self awareness of what our bodies are doing, and even when we are shouting at our horses. This scares the spooky ones and makes the stronger ones dull. We are all capable of influencing a horse over a great distance, several acres in fact, not just 25 feet across a round pen.
Anyway I'm rushing so not very eloquent and as i say not attacking you so no offence, but just some things for people to consider in general when next in the roundpen. All the best.
Last edited by Doe; 08-10-2011 at 07:07 AM.