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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I bought my first draft horse ( and my dream horse, next to my Kiger, April) back in September and did not ride him much at all due to his lack of weight. Now that he is gaining weight and Spring is coming up I am ready to get him into shape and get more acquainted with him.

He is very green, knows walk/trot and was used primarily for driving. He came pushy but I fixed that right away and now he leads like a dream. I took him to the round pen today and free-lunged him... The round pen is a fairly good size. We worked on walk, trot, and a little teensy bit of loping. We did a bunch of direction changes and stopping.

I would love suggestions and please let me know if you see a flaw in my technique.

1) When I ask him to change direction, 90% of the time he turns away from me. When he does change direction towards me, I let him go another halfway around the round pen and then stop him to let him rest for a tiny bit. Is this right?

2) When he had enough, every time he got to the gate he would run into it and start pushing on it to try and bust out. The gate can be broken, it is sturdy but the chain holding it is not. I know I could get a bigger chain, but I am wondering how I can keep him from doing this. After he did it a couple times I attached the lunge-line to him and worked him that way, near the gate, and every time he would think about turning towards the gate I would usher him by it.

ETA: Guess I didnt need to include his breed in the title.. Lol
 

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Regarding #2, what I would do is anytime he gets near that gate and even looks like he might try to do that again, I'd make him work harder. Put on the pressure. He needs to learn that escape attempts = more work. :) Just be careful to put on the pressure and get him moving away from that gate and not through it. Oh the joys of working with drafts. :)

Regarding #1, there are two guys who give a ton of into on this who I watch a lot: Clinton Anderson and Sean Patrick. I think Sean Patrick does a slightly better job of explaining what to do. The turning towards you thing starts happening when they get the idea of joining up, even if they don't come all the way in. With my girl, she used to turn butt in instead of head in, but then after doing the round pen stuff a few times, she finally figured out what I wanted. I tried to follow CA's explanation of getting after her if she turned butt out, making her go back in the same direction she was going originally. But SP said to just work on getting the direction changes and feet moving at the speeds you want and then they kind of naturally start turning face in because they're recognizing you as the boss. I'm not sure I'm explaining that very clearly. If you can get your hands on SP's video (33 steps to broke), you'll see what I mean.
 

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Him always wanting to turn away from could be from the way you are getting te change if direction, or from him feeling more drive from you than draw. Him pushing on the gate means he may be feeling a lot of pressure without understanding where to find a release from that, except to LEAVE te pen .

I would suggest working on getting him to draw to you , getting him to face you, releasing the pressure, but asking him to rest out there, not coming in on you.
Then get the turn to the other direction. So, add more "draw" to your work.

Also, if you are asking him to go around be sure that you "help" him grt past the sticky spot f the gate by putting on a bit more pressure BEFORE he starts thinking about the gate. The helps him surge forward and not get drawn there.
 

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First off, I reeaally like round penning a new horse- there is just SO much you learn right off the bat about them!

To me it sounds like you're doing a pretty good job ;) The only thing I can discern from what you explained is exactly what TinyLily said; you may be putting too much 'outward pressure' on him, and not enough invitation.

All horses are sensitive, but some are more sensitive. Round penning is a great way to get a feel for the horse's level of sensitivity. Body language is huge. If your hips are slightly more toward the shoulder than the hip, the horse will feel more 'outward pressure', and will either go faster, or try to escape.

Just like riding, there should be phases where you 'ask' your horse to do something (cue him to turn, stop, or change gaits), phases where he complies and you are both harmoniously communicating, (when he does what you want, and you release your cue, simply resuming your position of hips/shoulders facing the girth line) and phases of invitation (where you yield the driving position and ask him to turn toward you).

So to put it simply, try to be very aware of exactly where your hips and shoulders point when you ask for him to turn in. Your whole body should 'yield' the space to him, and therefor invite him to turn toward you. Even a backwards step while looking away could help- many horses are intimidated by direct eye contact.

Hope this helps! Good luck :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone for the answers, I am ready to dive head first into this. I normally dont ask questions and just observe the different threads... So thanks in advanced!

After reading the posts, I agree that I am probably putting too much drive. I lunged my mare today and practiced pointing my shoulder and hip towards her girthline... This means I am standing sideways or slightly diagnol, correct? Before I was facing her as I lunged.

How do I create more draw than drive?

The way I cue--- Point in the direction .. then click .. then raise my stick .. then wave my stick towards his shoulder. I do it in steps, if he doesnt respond to the point I click, etc.
 

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Thanks everyone for the answers, I am ready to dive head first into this. I normally dont ask questions and just observe the different threads... So thanks in advanced!

After reading the posts, I agree that I am probably putting too much drive. I lunged my mare today and practiced pointing my shoulder and hip towards her girthline... This means I am standing sideways or slightly diagnol, correct? Before I was facing her as I lunged.

How do I create more draw than drive?

The way I cue--- Point in the direction .. then click .. then raise my stick .. then wave my stick towards his shoulder. I do it in steps, if he doesnt respond to the point I click, etc.
Do you have a lunging whip?

I also point in the direction I want a horse to go- at first. After they are trained to my body cues, however, I stop pointing and resume the 'classical' lunging position, which is to say, the exact upper body position you have while riding. This position not only allows you to get a better feel of your horse on the lunge ( you can talk to their mouth just the same as when riding, minus longitudinal cues), you can easily collect or extend your horse, as you have more direct control of both the haunches and the forehand.

Your leading hand should have the lunge and your trailing hand the lunge whip. Using the lunge whip should be a kind of relaxed swinging motion- more wrist than arm. I kind of just swish it back and forth on the ground to get them used to it. If I want more impulsion, my first cue is to say the word 'trot' or whatever, then put more 'outward pressure' on the girth by taking a more advanced step, then following up with a 'swish' of the lunge whip toward the girth area. You always want to use the girth to drive, as this is where you will be driving from while riding. While doing this, remember that if your hips/shoulders are ever in front of the horse's shoulders, you are actually telling him to stop or turn away from you. Your driving force is all about where you put your pressure, which is the imaginary vector pointing straight out from your hips/shoulders.

To transition down, I use a light wiggle on the lunge, which should just collect him a bit, then let off on the drive just a wee bit. If he doesn't transition down from that, let your imaginary drive line get as far back as the haunches.
 

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This is a total draft thing. Most of them feel like lunging is a waste of their time.

Use a lunge line in the round pen for a while and you can correct the turning in. Then it's just a LOT of patience and repetition with a draft to convince him that this is not optional and he has to do it. Some of them are REALLY stubborn when it comes to lunging, they just don't see the need for it.

Longlining is sometimes more successful with drafties.
 

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First teach him to come in to you by putting pressure on his hip. Look away from him to increase draw. After he comes in well just start redirecting him the other way in the circle. Of course start with the line so he will know to come in rather than speed up with pressure on his hip.
 
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