Next time you see a horse being chased in a round pen, please ask yourself:
What’s the answer for the horse and how can he get out of being chased?
What does the trainer actually want the horse to do?
If the trainer wants the horse to face him or follow him, why not show the horse first?
Why chase a horse and expect him to work it out for himself?
Why not give the horse the answer before any problem is set?
After all, the trainer is supposedly teaching the horse.
Some people believe that a horse follows because he submits or joins up with the trainer.
This is nonsense. All that happens is that the horse works out it’s easier to follow than to keep running.
There’s nothing magical or special about teaching a horse to come to you or follow you.
In fact, it’s very easy to teach a horse to follow you without ever chasing him in a round pen.
My Starting a Horse Under Saddle Online Clinic shows how to do this in real time.
The reason that some trainers need a round pen is because the horse they’re working with doesn’t understand how to move in a correct circle.
A round pen allows horses to run around the fence.
Chasing, riding or lunging in a round pen will only teach a horse to run around a fence.
And guess what –
if there’s no fence to run around, there’s no circle.
Instead of relying on a fence in a round pen, every horse must be taught to walk a correct circle, one step at a time.
Instead of lunging or chasing your horse in a round pen, take him to an arena and teach him to walk a five metre circle around you.
Use a plain leather headstall and a soft lead rope, and show your horse step by step, what you want him to do.
When your horse learns to walk a five metre circle, ask for a ten metre circle.
When he understands how to walk each circle, in each direction, correctly, ask him to trot the same simple circles.
You’ll be surprised how much more you and your horse will learn when you stop relying on the fence of a round pen.
It’s high time for everyone to stop following fads and start thinking about what’s best for every horse.
And it’s past high time for everyone to think twice before they chase any horse in a round pen.
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