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Surcingle while in round pen?

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  • Surcingle while in round pen?

    Trying to think of possible problems or hazards if I were to use the surcingle with sidereins while the horse is working (loose) in the round pen.

    I'm having a serious issue with this new mare I just got. When worked in the round pen she will stop and fire both hind feet at me. She can also spin to the outside and change directions really, really fast. So I have been lunging her with sidereins or long lining. Tried her loose again today and she tried the stop and kick thing. I hit her with the whip and got her going again. I need a way to control her head and thought of the surcingle. But what is the downfall?

    If I had the money to send her to a trainer I would. What I'm tempted to do is put her on a transport and send her back from whence she came.

  • #2
    I suppose if she put her head down, she could get a leg over the side rein.

    I have some velcro loops that I use on the surcingle so they will break away in an emergency. (I think they originally came from an electronics store, to tie up loose cables behind desks.)

    Something like that might be in order if you decide to work her loose.
    ... and Patrick


    • #3
      I lunge my youngsters loose with the surcingle on, sidereins hanging down to get them used to something dangling on their sides. Never have had a problem.
      As far as her bad behavior, I'd get after her when she does that but keep working her until she's too tired to even think about kicking out. A little sweat certainly won't hurt her and once she figures out she's still got to work, she'll change her attitude. Good luck!

      ETA: Re changing directions 'really fast'- fine, let her and then make her work in the direction she's chosen to go. She's changing direction to avoid working plus she think she's controlling the situation. Nope, she changes direction, push her so that she thinks it is your idea, not hers. Hope this helps.
      It's only when a mosquito lands on your privates that you realize there is always a way to solve problems without using violence. fb meme.


      • #4
        Just be on the lookout for things that will catch the reins / side reins - a small nail, piece of wood, or gate latch.


        • #5
          Meh, if the walls are high enough that she's unlikely to jump out, I'm thinking two things:

          she's overwhelmed so she's freaking out and exploding from being overwhelmed
          she's pissy about being directed and told what to do after a lifetime of puffery.

          If your heart and head say it's the former, back off, slow down, and ask for less speed and less precision. Ask for less and go slower.

          If it's the latter, I wouldn't truss her up- but for every FU I'm turning around I'd be at her eye and driving her BACK into that wall and you WILL go back the other way. And within a 3/4 circle, I'd double her BACK the way she wanted to go. Done suitably hard and fast and with an eye open for her to make any effort to be polite (so you can quit and get quiet and say at ease, Soldier)...this can nip that crap in no time.

          Either way, no trussing said turkey. They aren't supposed to be for such a purpose.

          Assuming it's a 50 or 60 foot pen she isn't going to pop you, she's just spooked you. Smaller than 50 is way too small to be pressuring a horse in unless your timing is impeccable.


          • #6
            I rarely lunge a horse loose in a round pen, especially one who is being naughty. I want the horse under MY control which they are not when loose. The side reins don't really address your problem. Although I wouldn't be too worried about the dangers of the side reins, I think a lunge line would be more educational. I use a chain on a bad actor as well!!!
            Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


            • #7
              The side reins won't fix this problem. Side reins are good training tool but not for re-training bad behavioral problems.

              I have re-trained horses like that; it's no fun.

              If you don't feel competent, either send her to a Pro or back to where she is from.

              Where is she from? Is it possible that she was "trained" to do some join-up a little too much and/or by ignorants?
              ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

              Originally posted by LauraKY
              I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
              HORSING mobile training app


              • #8
                How old is the mare? How long have you had her? What training/experience has she had? What training/experience have you had?

                ETA: How far away is back from whence she came?
                I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


                • Original Poster

                  Crosscreeksh, I think I'm going to stick with the longlines. Like you said, I can keep her under control at the speed and in the direction I choose. I'm not good enough to teach a horse how to work correctly while at liberty in the round pen. The trainers on tv make it look easy, but if you've got a problem horse you really have to be quick with your reactions.

                  Cindyg, this is an older mare with zero training. In the PNW.


                  • #10
                    I very often use a surcingle with vienna reins in the roundpen (made out of livestock panels). I never use a longe line though, I always work the horses at liberty, whether they are "dressed" or not. I would rather direct the horse's choices so he makes the correct one and learns that RESISTANCE IS FUTILE, BWHAHAHA!

                    However, you are correct -- you DO have to know what you are doing and be very very quick, know the horse's language and be ready to respond to whatever they throw at you. So if the line gives you the ability to control her and be productive, then use it.
                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                    Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                    We Are Flying Solo


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gestalt View Post
                      The trainers on tv make it look easy,
                      Close the TV.

                      but if you've got a problem horse you really have to be quick with your reactions.
                      You need to be 'quick' in the sense of being able to quickly see the subtlety and have truly refine aids/body control. It is the tiny details that count. You don't want to be quick/abrupt, you need to be calm/quiet/precise.

                      If I had the money to send her to a trainer I would. What I'm tempted to do is put her on a transport and send her back from whence she came.
                      Either find a trainer that could give you lessons or send her back.

                      Your lack of knowledge to train this particular mare will undoubtly lead to more problems especially if you want to ride her.
                      ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                      Originally posted by LauraKY
                      I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                      HORSING mobile training app


                      • #12
                        Sounds like Willow, a bit.

                        I always make sure that I'm attached to her, with a bridle on. I think I lunge her more than I ride her, at the moment. I keep her in a small circle (think parallel lunging) close to me. She can't wheel and kick me or get away from me when I have that much close control. It takes some skill to master, but I think that having her closer to you properly, will help her. If she can get away from you, she's too far away.

                        Have a trainer come help you, just for a session or two.


                        • #13
                          I am a huge believer of free lunging. At my barn, they call me the ground work nazi. Part of that is because I want my horses to understand that I am in control whether I am connected to them via lead/lunge or bridle or not connected to them at all.

                          If she wants to stop and spin and kick out..try this with her.

                          YOU MUST BE ALPHA ABOUT IT!

                          1. The spin and turn tactic - she is doing this for two reasons. One is to show you she can do as she darn well pleases and two is to assert herself. If she wants to spin and turn..fine. Let her go about 5 strides, then TELL her to turn the other way...let her go about 5 strides, make her turn again. Keep doing that until her attention is on you! She wants to act like an a**, she can work her little a** off while doing it.

                          2. The kicking out. Everytime she does this you need to make a huge issue out of it. You might look like an idiot, but she will get the hint. You have three seconds....scream, chase, lunge the bejesus out of her. Keep her going at a canter for about 2 times around, or until you have her attention, and then bring her down and work on the other gaits.

                          Here is the idea. She isnt going to relax and do anything you want her to until she knows you mean business. Show her. Tell her. Once she accepts and gives, go back to being nice mom and ask her to work. She wants to spin and kick out...MAKE her work and TELL her how to do it.

                          I know some people wouldnt agree with me, but it has worked for me for all of my horses. I had a mare that would take you out if you went in a field with her. Feet teeth she didnt care what she used to take you down. After a week in a round pen with that strategy, no more kicking, no more biting, no more attacking. She learned patience, respect and most of all trust.

                          Do not attempt to do this without a firm mindset tho. You have to be completely set on making her do her job and making her get over herself. One lapse of letting her get away with it will lead to having to start all over.

                          Good luck!
                          Boomer's Hopes & Dreams
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                          RIP Boomer - May 21, 1989 - November 3, 2010


                          • #14
                            is the issue behavioral? Believe me I am all for cracking a whip when a horse or pony are being naughty, but you said she was older so this opens up other doors of possibility.

                            Does she have any pain? Is she coming into season? Does she need regumate?

                            How is she on the ground just grooming her? Does she know you as a 'friend' or someone that chases after her in the round pen?

                            I personally do not like side reins, they don't teach a horse anything except brace against the bit.

                            What would I do if this mare was mine and she was kicking at me.? I am a driver so my double lounging skills are pretty good And I would take the pressure off, I agree with the above poster that you could be over facing her. I know its just round pen work but its more work than she has ever had prior.

                            I know this sounds silly, but I would take her out on a lead (with a chain over just in case) and a dressage whip in my hand. She needs to learn to listen to you (if that is what her issue is) and just take her for a walk. She needs to say just behind your shoulder and you march around the farm she gets ahead of you, you have the chain or touch her with the whip on the knee. She starts to get slow tickler her with the whip. Use your voice. Whoa, walk, come (right), trot, stand, over (left) what words you use.

                            Good luck OP!


                            • #15
                              I personally don't think that "training" should ever devolve into a physical fight- training should, preferably, be a kind, gentle, gradual process where neither of you feels the need to defend or attack. You gently explain to her what you want, then you motivate her to do it, and then you gradually increase the difficulty of the work, but never so fast that she feels threatened enough to feel the need to physically fight you. If done right, both trainer and trainee enjoy the process.
                              If she's kicking at you, that means something has gone seriously awry- she feels threatened by what you are doing- kicking is a defensive action. Which means she's in pain, confused, or you've over-faced her (gone too far too fast).
                              the surcingle/side reins aren't supposed to be about "control", they are supposed to be about helping the horse to use its body correctly. Thus they are the wrong tool to use in this situation.


                              • #16
                                I agree with the idea that you may be putting too much pressure on her, and that's what motivates her to strike at you. Try doing as little as possible to get the result you want. But you also have to be prepared to move quickly to make your point if necessary.

                                I have one horse that I had a devil of a time getting to do downward transitions in the round pen. I knew I had to lower my energy, but just couldn't seem to lower it enough. Finally, one day, I just took a deep breath and let it out slowly, consciously dropping my shoulders. Instant downward transtion. To this day, when I either roundpen or longe this horse, I don't even use my voice, just my breathing. If you have one that is that sensitive, you have to consider that, feeling a bit defensive yourself, you are simply putting on too much pressure.
                                "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                                Spay and neuter. Please.


                                • #17
                                  Sheesh, not every single situation requires a professional trainer. OP seems astute enough to recognize her limits and stop and ask a reasonable question. Now, I agree with others that sidereins are not the right tool to keep the horse from kicking out, but it's not such a harebrained idea that she deserves the knee-jerk "You are not qualified to own a horse".
                                  OP, just keep at it. Don't end a training session on her terms--which means don't start a round pen session when you're pressed for time and have to call it day halfway through. Probably need to get more firm in your corrections. If your cues don't produce the response you want from the distance (from her hooves) you want to be at, don't change your distance -- increase the intensity of your cues. I wouldn't canter her in the roundpen until you have reliable control and respect at the trot. Gives you both a little more time to think/react.
                                  Now, if what she's doing is backing up at you, to intentionally land a kick, that's a different story and you're not safe with that horse. But I think a pissy "I don't wanna!" kick-out while out on the rail can be solved if you keep her working on your terms.


                                  • #18
                                    Okay, as I see it, there are several things going and unless we have a video, it's hard to say which is what...in which case we still prolly wouldn't agree amongst ourselves!!

                                    I'm not a fan of sidereins because the times I've seen them used in the roundpen (not me, I was watching from sidelines), every time the horse changed direction, horse had to stop and handler had to lengthen/shorten the reins. The inside rein was one hole shorter than the outside. ??

                                    Plus, with sidereins, it always seemed to me, it's making the horse put its head whereever but not engaging the rear end. Another ?? from me.

                                    Kicking out, if horse is kicking a lot, OP, if you're not up to it due to age (as I wouldn't be at this point in my life, middle middle-aged and not as fast nor as good hand/eye coordination) then ship the darlin' back. No horse is worth getting hurt.

                                    But! Back in the day (the glory days), I had a few who would kick and I never mastered the lunge line in the round pen thing and did 99.9% of lunging free style. I have had them kick at me, even viciously, and I walloped the snot out of the horse. At that point, I'm not concerned about their little feelings, it's my safety. If a horse got a mark, oh, well, que sera.

                                    But! Then again, I've had horses who could NOT process a round pen. It's like they checked their brain at the gate. It would wig them no end and then wouldn't listen to me. Maybe it reminded them of being herded into a blind box canyon in a previous life, I don't know, but I do know they couldn't deal with it. So, RP'ing was used sparingly.

                                    You never know on a horse you didn't raise what has happened in their previous life before you. I still think people over handle their horses nowadays, it's like they don't realize it's quality, not quantity. That's not being taught very much either.

                                    *flame jammies on, just in case*
                                    GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      HHippo, you have hit the nail. This horse is easy to handle, has been ridden and generally seems like a nice horse except that she's also a bit of a worrier and a spook. She hasn't been handled much in the past and is physically out of shape.

                                      I am taking it slow, all I'm asking her for is to listen and act upon my walk and trot verbal commands. I want her to stop looking everywhere except at me and walk in a relatively round circle.

                                      Watching what she does and then reacting when she is just thinking about being bad is much harder than it looks. That is what I mean about seeing trainers like Julie Goodnight, etc on tv. They know from a twitch of an ear what the horse is going to do. I am pretty good at ground driving and lunging in general and when this horse is in bridle and working she is okay. At liberty in the round pen is the problem. She simply refuses to acknowledge me and when I press her she will stop moving forward and kick directly at me (with both hindlegs). She's pretty damn fast at it too and it is obvious she is saying f u.

                                      If I just continue to work in driving lines with control of her total body, will that ever get me ahead? I'm pretty sure I need to get someone here that can address this problem, or send her back and hope the barn owner doesn't turn around and send her back to me!!!!


                                      • Original Poster

                                        goneriding24 I am in complete agreement!!! That is how she acts when loose in the roundpen. She totally checks out and will not look at me. I've never had a horse in all my 40+ years act like this. Other than this she isn't a "menace".