WHAT just happened?! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-09-2011, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation WHAT just happened?!

So I was working Dixie in the round pen, 50' round pen, no distractions, no fear-inducing objects. She refused to turn right so I was having her canter going left. Each time I tried to get her to turn right, I would have to get her to back up all the way across the pen. Finally, I got her to turn right once. Sweet. After a bit, turned her left. She wouldn't turn right so I said "Ok, run hard going left".

She decided to run hard enough to JUMP the panel. Problem is, she's barely over 14 hands so she jumped INTO the panel. Completely destroyed it. She seems to be ok but...

WHAT the heck just happened?! She wasn't fearful, she wasn't laying ears back, she wasn't exhibiting any type of behavior that indicated she was afraid to be in the pen with me. She would let me come right up to her, she would turn toward me, she would be perfectly fine. And then she JUMPED into the panel!?

Some please explain to me what just happened.

Not all who wander are lost - J.R.R. Tolkien
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-09-2011, 08:37 PM
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Sounds like she felt pressure of some sort. They don't need to be scared to feel pressure to get away. I watched Tommy Turvey doing a demo at the tournement of roses parade at liberty. His horse wasn't listening to him and ran to the fenced area where all the camera equipment was. You could just see what was going to happen and I was suprised at what Tommy did as it didn't make sense but Tommy went and drove the horse from behind and it jumped right in on every one. I personally would have went in front of the horse and pushed it back away from the area but he pushed it and it did what it thought it was supposed to.
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post #3 of 15 Old 08-09-2011, 08:43 PM
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Did she seem sore at all? If she was hurting she might not have wanted to go that way.

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post #4 of 15 Old 08-09-2011, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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Nope not sore. She always has trouble turning right, but she did it twice at the very beginning with no problems. Then suddenly it was like she "forgot" which I know she didn't.

I wasn't even putting any pressure on her when she jumped. She had started cantering at the other half of the pen, so I let off the pressure to let her know she was doing good at a canter. My husband was watching from the house and even he says he doesn't understand what caused it.

I'm going to have to assume it was some invisible tiger that I am incapable of seeing, and she got spooked. Heck, maybe the birds in the sky cast a terrifying shadow *sigh*

Not all who wander are lost - J.R.R. Tolkien
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post #5 of 15 Old 08-09-2011, 09:13 PM
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Is this a consistant problem ? Horse's have 2 brain's and what you do with the left, must be done with the right...maybe her right brain wasn't taught ? That's just a guess, as I don't know how long you have had her and what her training has been... If it's on going, I'd send her to a Trainer and get her brain moving and thinking again, with out you getting hurt.

Good luck !

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post #6 of 15 Old 08-09-2011, 09:37 PM
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Some horses are left eyed dominate (sounds like your horse) and some are right eyed dominant. What I mean by this is that some horses prefer to have you out of their left eye and some prefer you out of their right eye. Whatever eye is dominant they will insist on keeping you on that side as that's the side they're cruisey with. A lot of horses are left eye dominant but you do get the odd one that is right eye dominant.

I have a filly who is very right eye dominant. I work her at liberty in the round yard, send her out and guarantee it her first preference is to go to the right as soon as I would send her the other way she'd slice off a part of the circle and turn to the outside to put me back out of that right eye.

Sounds to me like you've got a left eye dominant horse who flipped out at the possibility of having you on the right side. My suggestion is start leading her from the right side, grooming the right side first, approaching the right side first when you go to catch her in the paddock. Because we mainly do things on the left hand side (lead, catch, bridle, do the girth up, get on) we aren't aware that there is a problem until something goes wrong which in this instance was your horse trying to jump out.
tinyliny and Annnie31 like this.

Last edited by GoneRama; 08-09-2011 at 09:46 PM.
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post #7 of 15 Old 08-09-2011, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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It's worth a shot. Thanks, GoneRama!

Not all who wander are lost - J.R.R. Tolkien
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post #8 of 15 Old 08-09-2011, 09:46 PM
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No dramas Goldilockz.

The horse will naturally put you out of one eye or the other and because that's the side that ends up being the easiest to do stuff on we subconsciously do everything on that side.

Glad my post made sense too.
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-09-2011, 11:36 PM
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Yep.. Sky did this just the other day. Refused to stay going to the right and kept trying to turn left. I kept having to jump in his way and send him the other way and made him work at a jog for 20 minutes before he was allowed to walk. No problems after that.

Your horse just felt that was the only way of getting out of what it didn't want to do :P If it had wings..
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post #10 of 15 Old 08-10-2011, 06:01 AM
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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 06:07 AM.
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