Should my horse run the full round pen?
I always make him do so (even though alot of the time it's a constant struggle). He doesn't cut the corners badly, just a little. But I used to have a trainer years back that wouldn't stand for it, and now watching all the people at the stable i board at (they let their horse cut corners) I'm confused.
Is it also a bad thing that once I un-hook his lead rope he automatically starts free lunging himself?
You need to work on that, it's just as bad as when you're trying to get on a horse and they walk off. It could turn into something bad like him rushing you or running into something. I would not let him do that.. teach him to wait for you to tell him what to do, rather than make the decision himself.
As for your question, I would use the entire arena, and work on keeping your horse on the rail. He might be out of lunging shape (running a circle is a lot of work) so you want to start off small, 10 minutes of walk trot, little bit of canter, and build up. Also work on some ground work. Teach your horse when you push where your leg would go and say a word like "over," they move sideways away from you. Then after they understand that, by pointing the whip at the horse's ribs (not touching them) and ask them to move over, he will know to not come into your space. It may take awhile but you can't let the horse cut corners.. OR change directions without being asked. Teach your horse to stand and practice walking a little bit away BEFORE the horse makes the decision to move. Reward him for time spent being still, and he'll catch on and eventually learn to "ground tie."
There are tons of threads with amazing roundpen and lunging information as well as ground work.. good luck :)
You have corners in your round pen?
Push her out. Use a longe line and whip if you have to.
the quick answer is YES use the whole round pen ;) and the quick answer for your other question is NO, do not let your horse make a decision on what you are doing that day. Make him/her stand until you decide to push them out and start lunging.
The round pen is small and your horse will likely want to cut corners, because its more difficult to use the whole thing. However using those corners properly makes your horse bend into the center (where presumably you are) giving you more attending from the horse and therefore more control. It's much easier to teach this at the walk and trot since its much easier for them to get into it without tripping up their stride.
As for free lunging, in my personal opinion, free lunging is 100% more favorable to lunging on a line as its soooooo much better for their legs, hocks and ankles. So I will not be the person who tells you to put him on a line right away to keep him from leaving you. But the line does have it's benefits and and in this case may help you kill two birds with one stone. Switch from lead to loungeline right away and make him stand with you for a little longer than normal. THEN push him out. Use the line and whip to help teach him not only to get in the corner, but bend in the corner (use you whip as an extension of your arm to "push" him into that corner) after he starts to get the idea, you can work on both the waiting and the crners without the line and go back to free lounging happily ever after :)
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