Round penning gaited horses.
So help me out here.
I recently got a new client who has two horses that need ridden. One is a gypsy vanner and the other a missouri fox trotter. Both are types of horses don't normally deal with. I got alone with the Gypsy good but this Trotter has me confused.
She is very disrespectful. She kept getting in my space, not respecting me when I told her to move in the crossties or in hand, and when she finally did move wouldn't move where I wanted her. She seems like a kind mare but she's just pushy.
I tried to do groundwork with her but she just kept yanking on the long line and not listening to me. As I would normally do in these situations, I roundpenned her.
Now she didn't act anything out of the ordinary for a disrespectful horse. It was rough, she wouldn't turn into me, and when i said "whoa" there was no stop and when she did stop and turn in she immediately lost interest and went away. I got two turns into me but never got her full attention.
My question is this: The owner stepped in, said she was being crazy, and that she was told to never round pen a gaited horse. She said she talked to gaited horse trainers who said that only made them crazy and would mess up their legs.
I have no experience with gaited horses so by owner's wishes I did not pursue this.
What do you guys think? Disrespectful horse, my instinct is that she needs a roundpen. Mare doesn't have a clue what groundwork is, and she acted just like any other disrespectful quarter horse I'd normally deal with at first. My gut says we just need to get past that hump, but what can I do if the owner doesn't want that happening? Is it really bad to roundpen a gaited horse?
I'm not sure how round penning one would mess up their legs??? I haven't noticed their legs being much different then other horses... But I'm with you on this one, I don't mess with the gaited breeds very often. And I really don't understand how it could make them crazy. I dunno that just doesn't sound right to me...
A horse is a horse. Gaited or not, they can be round penned.
There is one issue I have found with round pens. The size. A small round pen can be hard on their joints. A good size to use is at least 40' in diameter. Smaller than that and the horse is turning pretty tight. Also it is hard for them to get up to a lope without hitting the sides. It can be done but is more difficult for the horse.
A small round pen can actually trigger their fight instinct too. They have no room to "escape".
Edit: IMO, it sounds like the owner wants you to fix her horse but you need to be "nice" to it. Also, sounds like a spoiled horse.
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I just remembered something funny about round pens. We have two horses that are gaited, an Arab cross and a TWH. Both we've round penned and don't have any issues from it.
My wife's horse, the Arab cross, is too smart for his own good. He learned very well what the round pen was for. We would put all three of our geldings in the round pen to mess around with them. When we left them in there alone, her horse would actually lunge the other two. He would make them go around and change directions just like a human would do. All we could do was laugh and shake our heads.
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It is harder for a gaited horse to gait in a small round area. Most of the time they will trot. Not sure about the foxtrotted breed in general as I have no experience with them, but most gaited horses are trained in barns with long aisles where they are ridden back and forth in gait under saddle. This may have been how she was originally trained and really doesn't understand the round pen at all. You can gain her respect that way, but I wouldn't push for any speed. A lot of gaited horses also get bored quickly in round pens, don't know why.
It used to be the gaited trainers didn't like them trotting. Now some have found it is ok that they trot, it actually helps establish better gaiting when they go under saddle. Good Luck
What is your goal in the round pen?
If it's to infuse a sense of resepect and discipline then it's just fine. If it's to wear them down and enforce compliance that's not so good.
As to gaited horses and round pens, like so very may myths in the often closed world of "gaited horse training", it's pure bunk.
A 45-50 foot round pen is a good size as it is large enough to permit easy movement but small enough permit reasonable control.
You don't say where you are. If you are in the No. VA area there's an excellent resource in Secret Passage Ranch in Strasborg, VA. Don Warlick is an outstanding person to speak with. He's a QH guy mostly, but has worked with our Marchadors quite successfully.
Good luck in your program.
Round penning gaited horses is fine. Just use common sense and maybe protect them with bellboots and splint boots. If a gaited horse has showing in the future you don't want to get any scars on their ankles. I see positive effects on a horse's undersaddle gaiting. You want a strong flexible top line for the horse's best natural gaits to be expressed. But I do discourage unbalanced work, if trotting, ask for some direction changes. If cross fired cantering, do the same.
I'm not a fan of round penning and if you have a smart horse, they get resentful about being "drilled" when they already know what they are doing. At that point they think YOU don't know what you are doing :)
She just sounds either a bit spoiled or honestly has no idea what you are asking and both stem from the same problem....not enough of a foundation. I prefer doing 10-15mins of ground work to teach them how to disengage the hindend and to cross over in front. Normally a good horse picks this up in 1 or 2 quick 10-15 min sessions, a horse a bit slower on the uptake may take 3-4 lessons but they all pick it up pretty quickly. Once I have them moving their body when I ask, I then take them and start teaching them to ground drive. I will spend anywhere from 2-5 lessons just ground driving. This teaches the horse how to go forward, reenforces steering and brakes, and also gets them out of their normal routine and can potentially break up bad habits.
After I am confident in their steering and brakes and I understand their reactions to new stimuli I then saddle up and spend 15-20 mins just walking on light contact to get a feel of HOW they move. Are they heavy on your hands, are they "lookie Lou's", are they trying to get out of work, or are they ready for new adventures.
I spend a lot of time improving the walk, especially on gaited breeds. The walk is the foundation everything else is built on. I've spent up to 30 days just walking my gaited horses (asking them to move from flat walk to a dog walk to a running walk then back down again) constant transitions in the walk, asking for circles, serpentines, clover leaf patterns, figure 8 patterns, anything that will engage them mentally and physically. Once I got them moving off well I then ask for either the trot or the next gear for my gaited horses.
She is asking questions that you haven't answered yet, and those kind of horses can really teach you a lot as a rider and trainer. These types of mares are just fantastic to have, once they form a bond with you, they are loyal for life. Good luck with her!
Ground work, lunging will not hurt a gaited horse. I agree too small of a round pen will be hard on the legs and joints of any breed of horse.
A good size round pen is imo 50'.
Round penning will not only teach respect but balance, softness and suppleness that is needed to help maintain gait.
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