Is it always necessary?
I was just reading a post on another thread about not making the 7 games the 7 jobs and eventually the 7 tortures, and a light bulb went on. (Thanks Spirithorse for that ) :-)
I am working Walka and a young mare right now and I begin my session with moving them out on the circle (using a round pen) and asking for inside turns and good solid whoas. I take absolutely NO disrespect and shenanigans from either of them(not using this exercise to get the fresh out of them but get their minds focused on me). I use a low energy and allow walk if all answers are correct and calmly given. If all goes well and calmly, then I saddle up and go through exercises in saddle.
So here is where the light bulb came on. Do I need to do the ground exercises any longer, where I am getting consistent responses at a calm and respectful manner. Am I now causing them to be bored and just beating a lesson into them?
Appreciate everyone's opinions and insight on this as I do not want to have them shut down mentally to me or go "great, here we go again".
haha Walkamile, you're welcome :)
Well, it all depends on the horse. Some horses need that kind of consistancy, while others need variety. If the horse is innately more unconfident, shy, timid, etc. will probably not mind the consistant ground work. Now this doesn't mean that is all we should ever do with the horse, but it'll be fine for awhile. However, if the horse is said to be a quick learner, naughty, extroverted, playful, dominant, lazy, etc. then I would definitely move on once they get the concept. Once they get the concept, move on to something else. If you continue with the same routine it will become a drill and the horse will either shut down (as in "I'm not talking to you, you are very boring and have nothing to offer me) or they will act up and get naughty and make games of their own! It's all about balancing the consistancy vs. variety and how much to offer each individual horse.
Each handler will have different goals and mine are to get into the saddle and transfer the knowledge from the ground lesson to the ride.
So the answer is quite subjective and really depends on your horse and your goal.
Many people can show great command and control with a horse from the ground and start to fall apart when in the saddle as the risk is higher to the handler.
As many of the ground tasks are learned I like to put them to the test and mount up as soon as the horse is ready and begin the ride.
The round pen is left behind and only used as a reminder from time to time.
The lay of the land with all the challenges are the training ground.
Thank you all for responding. Yes, I also agree that it is subjective to the individual horse. With that said, Walka is definitely fine to forgo the "litmus test" of the round pen/on ground exercises. I guess that with the mare, she and I are still getting a feel for each other. While she has come very far with her outward displays of disrespect, and genuinely seems to enjoy being with me, I haven't reached the point of trusting her without getting a handle of her mental state before mounting up. Lately, this only takes 5 mins, as she is displaying fairly consistent focus towards me.
So now our work together is about 5 mins (approximate) ground work, and then 30 to 45 mins in saddle. I guess upon reflection, that the 5 mins of ground could be pushed aside, until I see an indication that we need to revisit.
You've given me info to ponder on, and I so love to ponder! :wink:
So, perhaps new game plan is getting a handle of mental state in round pen under saddle, and then work a little out of round pen. Eventually the amount of time in pen will diminish completely, as trust builds between us. She did spook in the round pen last session and responded very well to disengage and stand. While in that area of the pen she would continue to display concern, she was doing as asked, but not in a relaxed way. Sorry, just me pondering guys. Told ya, love to ponder. :)
I wouldn't want to ride a horse that paid so little attention to whats going on that it didn't spook once in a while. I've had horses save me from all kinds of disasters because they noticed what I didn't. I don't want them to leave the country with me because a deer jumps out but a pause and a snort tells me that the horse is awake and staying out of trouble. In your case I would lunge her with the lead rope or reins outside the round pen then get on and ride. I don't use the round pen much after ride 3 or 4 unless the horse is really troubled but I will make them do a few circles around me for a couple of weeks and I always bend their head around towards me when I mount and have them step over with thier hind end once I'm on. This keeps me out of trouble for the most part.
Kevinshorses, I do keep her head tipped towards me when mounting up and she is very steady with it. I will do the disengage after mounting up, usually just have her stand in place while I make any adjustments (plus I like to wiggle ect... to get her well accustomed to anything of that nature). She handles it all very well even though she is green broke.
I find it interesting what you said about the spooking. I guess in her case, with her history, she gets hyper vigilante and I believe spooks herself. In the past her first response is to take off. So for her to spook and respond to my cue to disengage was huge for her. I think that doing a little ground work outside of her round pen would be excellent, for both her and I. I guess the more opportunities I give her to spook, the more opportunities I have to build her confidence and trust in me. Not that I am planning on having anyone jump out at her, but I can feel when she tenses up. That would be a great time to work her to keep focus on me and the task at hand.
I am used to my 2 horses who tend to spook in place. Plus , they know me and trust me so that is huge.
Trust takes time, but she is showing that while nervous, she's willing to listen to me.
Thanks for your insight , it's given me more to consider.
I see people all the time that talk about how broke thier horse is then lunge them for half an hour before they dare to get on them. If you need to lunge your horse for half an hour then fine but it's not broke. Just relaxe and give your horse a chance to learn and to earn your trust.
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