Squaring Up & Turning To The Inside
I took a job working with 6 horses about a month ago. This is my first time ever training a horse or working with them in a roundpen even though I've been riding for years. The owner of the 6 horses permanently injured himself so I'm just basically his hands and he directs me to do whatever needs to be done. Over the past 2 weeks, though, I've realized that he's just about as clueless training horses as I am. He refuses to hire a professional trainer because "why pay someone else to do something that I can learn to do just as well." Ugh.
Anyways, I'm focusing on 2 horses right now until I get the hang of things. Both are mustangs off the BLM although they're pretty tame now. One is an 8 year old mare and the other is a 5 year old gelding. I free lunge both of them around the roundpen. The gelding confuses me because I see his nose tipped towards me and I can catch his eye, but then when I try to bring him into the center, he just stops where he is. He has come in once or twice and squares up to me, but it's not consistent at all. The mare and the gelding both turn towards the outside when I ask for direction changes, even though the mare always squares up and comes into the center when I ask her. I don't like putting the gelding on a lunge line because he cuts his circles smaller and smaller around me. He really doesn't respond to pressure when I ask him to move to the outside and it makes me nervous when he throws a temper tantrum so close to me. I can literally smack his shoulder with the lunge whip over and over again and see the marks I leave, but he'll just do it again everytime he makes a circle around me. I hate being this rough with a horse and it's not working anyway, so there must be something I'm doing wrong.
It doesn't matter all that much if they turn facing you or not, at least to start with.
As for him leaning his shoulder in on you, that must be addressed.
Does he push in on you when you free lunge him? When he comes in to you does he come in politely or come rareing in with a feeling that he owns you?
I would go back to free work with the gelding. Start by moving him any direction . If you put pressure on him, does he move forward willingly? Do you have to use the lungewhip, or can you move him with just an increase in the energy of your body? Don't stand still in the middle and expect him to go. If you want him to circle, you circle too, but on a much smaller radius; like one leg almost just pivoting and the other walking around it.
If you want him to speed up, raise the energy in your body and only use the whip if he ignore the change in your body language. Body language always first. Always remember what you are asking for. If you asked for faster, than you must get that. Once you do get a change in him, let him coast for abit. Don't chase him. Then ask for faster again, get it, let coast. After a bit, stop your feet and see if he stops his. If he doesnt, try some small thing to get his attention, such as a scuffle of the whip in the sand or tap you boot with the whip. and back away from him slightly. If he is listening, he will draw to you. If not, then step around in front of him (may have to cross the pen to cut him off) and force him to turn around and work other side.
Offer him to come in. If he stops and looks at you but his feet get stuck and he can't make the next step of moving toward you, you will need to help him. You can back away fron him and move in a semi circle around to his hind end. chances are this will cause him to move his hind away from you. When he does, you kind of step away and turn your shoulder to invite him to conitinue stepping toward you as you walk off and he may follow you and go for a walk with you. That's the beginning of join up.
If he really wont come, then move him off again and make him mover around a time or two and offer again. You just keep offering him the choice to come in. If he choooses not to, you ask him to move some more so that you can ease off and give him another opportunity to choose to come to you.
Also, if he comes in too close to you, flick the whip out at him and step toward him quickly and in an aggressive manner to wake him up. YOu can throw your hands up and startle him. IF he is ignoring your whip only requests to move his shoulder off, then make yourself really hard to ignore. If he tantrums, let him. He can , as long as he doesn't really kick out at you. Get him moving foraward again as soon as possible . Dont brood over his attitude nor let him have time to brood over it either.
Thanks for responding Tiny :) He does try to circle smaller and smaller around me when I free lunge him, but it doesn't feel like he's doing it out of dominance. It seems more like he gets lazy and doesn't want to do full circles on the rail. To get him moving I always point in the direction I want him to go in, take a step or two towards his drive line, and then start swinging my whip. I always do the "ask, Ask, TELL" thing with the horses, but I swear he waits until the last second to move on purpose. It's the same thing with trying to take the pressure off and letting him coast. Almost every lap he tries to cut his circles smaller and I have to constantly be after him to push him out to the rail again.
I am so scared of messing this horse up because I know I'm not experienced enough to handle him.
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