Horse following trainer in the round pen
Watching a lot of videos of trainers who use join-up/hooking or variations thereof on horses that already know how to lead and I started wondering. If the horse already knows how to lead and follow a person, isn't all the trainer does when it chases the horse away is effectively punish it for something its been taught to do and then after making it tired, reward it for doing the very thing it got punished for doing in the first place?
And in which case, the fact that the horses very quickly learn what they need to do to come back in close to the trainer and so get relief from tiring circles is neither surprising or remarkable. We either use leadrope pressure on their heads or we make them tired- both use unpleasant stimuli to motivate the horse to respond and remove that unpleasant experience once they have complied which rewards the following behaviour.
It is a different situation with horses that don't know how to lead, although the reward the receive when they do come in and follow the trainer is the same- relief from effort or negative reinforcement of following the trainer.
But in terms of the horses which already know how to lead- what are the training benefits of chasing them away one minute only to singal them to come back and stay with you the next?
How and why I do it (mind me, I'm not a professional and I don't follow a particular "style", be it PP, MR, CA or somebody else) - I often work with my horse in a pen (I don't have a round pen, it's rectangular and larger in size) in liberty. He sometimes trys quitting a new or harder exercise, by running off and having fun along the arena fence. I then show, that it's ok, he may run, but I will want to be in every single spot he tries to stay. I'm not chasing him, I'm not trying to push him around with my energy or string or anything - I'm just showing first with my body and then tapping with the string in the spots where he's trying to stay. He sees my warnings and it is his choice to move or to get tapped (very light taps only), and once in a while I offer him - how about coming to me now, doing the previous exercise and having a rest? It usually works very well with him. It's also never a punishment and he never gets stressed about it - it seems that he perceives it as a lead horse claiming his territory, and soon goes to his own - which is by my side.
Feel free to disagree, it's just something I do how I understand it, and what works well with my horse. :)
I , too, do not do any set form of "join up". I do not run my horse around until he is tired and begs to come in. If he will follow me around the pen from the moment we walk in, which he often does, then he is already mentally hooked on. The reason I may drive him away, and it's better to say "send" him away, or "move his feet", is to see if he will maintain a mental connection to me even when asked to move.
When I ride him, I will be asking him to move, not to stay next to me. but I dont' want his mind to leave just because he starts moving off. So, in ground work, I am kind of testing him to see if I say, move your shoulder away from me and walk off, ok now I am no longer asking you to move, I have just stopped and am standing here, will you notice that? Will you be so attentively listening to for my next direction that when I cease pushing you away you will turn back to me for direction. THAT is what I want.
ANd, if I am asking for the horse to move forward, I want him to move forward in accordance with the amount of forward I am asking for. So, if I want him to move forward and really GO!, then I will put some reall push on him. If he holds back, then I need to maybe open up and put some sudden pressure on to break him out of whatever mental block or resistance is making him not want to run as fast as I ask. Once he moves freely forward, I cease all push . His job is to notice this and look back to me , slow down and come to a halt, and look to me, and if I invite him, come in to me for a rest and a cuddle.
Round penning is like dancing; I push, he gives, I draw, he comes. When the horse is really mentally hooked on, he becomes like a mirror. I am not saying I always achieve this but I look for this. THis is developing feel. I am a real beginner, but I have inklings at times for what it feels like and it's amazing!
^ very well said! Its all about the mental connection.
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ur lucky u have a round pen
When I started out in riding, the influence of the PPs, CAs & my own personal favourit MR was minimal. The British Horse Society method was all for one and one for all. But not all horse owners and all horses have the same mentality. What might work for one amateur trainer might not work for another with a different horse.
What the modern gurus do provide is to bring some orderly method into training a horse, itself an extremely complex subject. Round pens are rarely seen in the UK but larger rectangular arenas with flat sandy surfaces are becoming more and more evident even though they cost a fortune to lay down. I now wonder how we ever did without them. The ladies of the BHS would certainly not approve of all my own self developed handling techniques.
If your horse will follow you loose around a round pen, then why indeed chase it away? But I am sure MR will tell you exactly why it is good practice and there is no doubt his system works for him and his followers.
Horse riding and training is very much based on what works for you and your personality and your horse and its mentality. I watch my horse carefully and her reaction to me. I am constantly trying to work out what is going on in her head. I am pretty sure if I pushed her away, that she'd think to herself that the lesson had finished. So I don't ask her to move away. All she knows is that when the head collar is fitted she is at work. When she is completely free of all tack, then she is at rest and play.
I do know is that the human's body language is as important if not more important than actual human speech to a horse. When lunging my horse, the handler's relative position to her is important. And inadvertent movement of my hands will give her a false command.
But even deliberately set loose in the training arena of whatever shape, she isn't going far - as long as she smells those tidbits in my pocket. It is what works for you and your horse that counts.
Trust your own judgement and occasionally experiment.
I don't really do join up, but I do respect that is what some trainers do, and they get good results for it.. What I do is simple. Hang out with the horse as much as possible. But, unlike most people.. I don't stand and pet and groom the horse all day.. Sure, I may groom it for half and hour, but then I just stand back 20 feet while they are in their field, and follow them a bit, gently, when they move. Do you see horses constantly right next to each other never leaving their side? Rarely, and even if they do, they usually are a couple feet away from eachother.. And teach them proper manners of course..
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