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Round Penning/Free Longing question

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  • Round Penning/Free Longing question

    I recently moved my horses to a facility that has a round pen, so I figured why not give some roundpenning/free longing a go.

    Today I played around with both my guys, and the main thing I tried to work on was getting them to change direction facing IN rather than facing out.

    With a lot of trial and error I was able to get them to turn across the middle and change direction in front of me, which I hope to eventually tighten up to neater turn.

    Currently though, just getting them to turn in and come across is a trick and a half, very much of the "sometimes it works, sometimes we go around the perimeter 30 more times" persuasion.

    Any tips?
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  • #2
    How big is the roundpen ?

    What tools are you using (rope, whip, flag, etc .)?

    What are you doing, exactly ?

    How fast are the horses going ?

    Both at one time in the pen, or individually ?

    How do you send them off ?

    How do you stop them ?
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    • #3
      When I teach free longing to my guys I have certain vocal cues that I use for each gate. Clucking, Kissing and Verbally saying Whoa and Turn.

      When I teach them to turn, I want them to turn in to me, so I step in front of thier shoulder, say Turn and then take a step back. Taking the step back is like an invitation. They may not get it the first few times that they are supposed to turn in, just because they are so used to turning out.

      Try it and see how it goes. They eventually get it and I never reprimand for turning out to the fence. But, when they take the turn to the inside, I praise the heck out of them!

      Good Luck!
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      • #4
        I agree with Boomer. The step back seems to be the trick to get then to turn in. I also think it helps when starting out to have them stop, invite them to step towards you, and then turn them after they take that step. Eventually they get to where they do it faster, but sometimes it seems to help to break the turn down into smaller chunks.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
          How big is the roundpen ?
          It appears to be about the size of a 20m circle, but it is hard to tell when I am on the ground not on the horse.

          What tools are you using (rope, whip, flag, etc .)?
          I was using a buggy whip. It is basically a shorter longe whip with a shorter tassle. It is crackable for a noise.

          What are you doing, exactly ?


          How fast are the horses going ?


          Both at one time in the pen, or individually ?
          one at a time

          How do you send them off ?


          How do you stop them ?
          As for the other questions, I am sure I am doing all of them incorrectly, or at the very least, not well.

          I would love some instructions that I can follow and hopefully do it better.


          Sacred and Boomer, that is really helpful. I have not really been using voice commands so I will try to incorporate more of them.
          I do try to take a step back (which turns into basically walking backwards in a small circle as they go around and around) but I think the really broken down version that Sacred suggested will help explain it to both horse and human better.

          Thanks!
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          • #6
            Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
            I do try to take a step back (which turns into basically walking backwards in a small circle as they go around and around) but I think the really broken down version that Sacred suggested will help explain it to both horse and human better.

            Thanks!

            I don't know what level of training your horses have, but I know with the colts we start, if they're stopped and you've taken a few steps back and they're not really locked on to you and following, or they're dinking around and looking where ever they feel like, we send them back out and make them keep working. After a circle and a half or so, we try again, and keep doing that until they're more focused on us. For me, I take it as kind of sign of respect. When I ask them to stop I want them looking at me for the next direction, but my old guy probably hasn't roundpenned in 5 years, if he ever roundpenned at all, and he's perfectly respectful, so that might be all in my head.

            Also, it sounds like you have a large roundpen, which is nice (I'm a little jealous), but sometimes in those big roundpens you have to be a little more obvious with your body. When you want them to stop, you have to really get in front of their shoulders, or even their neck, which can (at least for me, since I don't run very fast) mean some creative geometry in where you walk to get ahead of them.

            The biggest thing in roundpenning is where you're positioned in relation to the horses body. For me, what this means is that if I'm squared up to their hip and their head is more towards my peripheral vision, I'm driving the horse forward and I expect them to be moving away from that "pressure". On a horse who's kind of unresponsive or lazy, I might stay there unless I'm asking them to turn or stop. Ideally (for me) or on a horse who's more sensitive or flighty, once I have them going the speed I want I'll step slightly forward and square myself up between the flank and girth area so I'm not driving them forward so much, and I can see their head better. When I want the horse to stop I'll round off (so my body position is less agressive and more passive, shoulders relaxed, chin tipped slightly down) to the head, and then take a step or two back to draw them towards me. When I want them to turn then, I'll take another step towards where the horses head was to open up the area I want them to turn in to, then I step towards the horse and drive from the hip again.

            Sorry if this is way more information than you were looking for. Roundpenning is one of my favorite parts of starting a horse, because I love watching how they'll move depending on where I move my body. IMO, Monty Roberts is the real master of roundpenning, and he's good at explaining how your body position effects the horse, so if you can get a hold of some of his older videos (maybe your local library), they're interesting to watch.

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            • #7
              I think you are getting ahead of yourself a little bit. They aren't looking to you for guidance, they're running around to get away from the pressure. Step back a bit, and start with just making sure they are paying attention. Body language is key to round penning work - even more than it is on a lunge line. When you send them forward, you need to be stepping behind the shoulder, "pushing" with the shoulder that is away from the direction you want them to go while opening the door with the other shoulder by pulling it back. Basically, if you are tracking left you need to be behind the horse's left shoulder, your left shoulder should be back and your right shoulder forward and putting pressure on the horse. Probably about a 45 degree angle with your horses.

              Then, work on stopping them by stepping in front of their shoulder and changing the direction of your shoulders. Turn your left shoulder in to shut the door. If the horse doesn't stop based on your motion - he's not effectively listening to you. Once you can do that you can add the step back and point the other direction (your shoulders are already in the right position) to ask them to move the other way.

              It becomes a dance ... and it's very enjoyable. Horses are more in tune with body language and energy than you might think - I can even do this with my nearly fully blind horse.
              If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
              ~ Maya Angelou

              Comment


              • #8
                The correct amount of pressure and release are very subtle variations of distance and body position. It's something I don't think I would want to try to explain in words and probably not something that someone can explain to you and then expect to be able to go out and do it. It's something that has to be learned with practice. Fortunately, you won't mess the horse up unless you start chasing it around. He's waiting for you to get it right to give the right response. The least amount of movement and effort that it requires from you and gets the right answer is the right amount.

                It's funny how it almost looks like magic to some people. I have a friend that sells cows once a year. They sell the young bulls and old cows, and keep the cows to increase the herd size. The people that he usually gets to load them get all worked up, chase the cows around in the pen, beat on them, and generally both people and cows get all worked up.

                One year out of desperation, I got in the pen with the cows by myself after they just weren't getting them sorted out. I had always just pulled them to market for my friend. I got the herd walking in a slow circle, put one guy on the gate to open it in, when I wanted one to go to the next pen toward the loading chute. I'd put very subtle pressure on the one cow I wanted through the gate to get him to stop, signal the guy to open the gate-just enough to let the one young bull through, get the cow to step forward through the gate, and so on through the herd. No one got hurt and no cow got worked up. The same sort of subtle pressure and release is used in the round pen with a horse. All the guys hanging over the fence thought I was a magician.

                If you are working hard, both you and the horse are working too hard.

                All the long talking works good for keeping a crowd interested in watching a demo by John Lyons and those guys, but I always tell people that when watching the videos, to turn off the sound and learn to feel what he's doing.
                www.HistoricHousePreservation.com

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                • #9
                  I have my horse turn out not in - because I use the turn (at all gaits) as a way to ask him to rebalance and engage his hind end. I use free longing either as a warm up in that way for under saddle work, or by itself to help him use his back, his hind end, etc.
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                  • #10
                    You people understand. Please pass the message that horses are very subtle.
                    All this flapping, waving, rope wiggling and roaring round a pen drive me crazy -
                    when a small step, a look or shoulder movement is all that is required - and less and less as the horse knows you and your methods better. Also, recognizing the horse's subtle response and intent to obey before he actually obeys, and lightening the instructions. It's indeed a beautiful thing.
                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                      You people understand. Please pass the message that horses are very subtle.
                      All this flapping, waving, rope wiggling and roaring round a pen drive me crazy -
                      when a small step, a look or shoulder movement is all that is required - and less and less as the horse knows you and your methods better. Also, recognizing the horse's subtle response and intent to obey before he actually obeys, and lightening the instructions. It's indeed a beautiful thing.
                      If you could please explain WHAT KIND of small step, look, or shoulder movement, and WHAT TO LOOK FOR from the horse so that someone can KNOW WHEN to do this small step, look or shoulder movement, ideally in a step by step sequential process that starts out basic and can be built upon, that would be much more helpful than

                      "horses are very subtle," or "to some people it looks like magic."

                      To some people dressage looks like magic but nobody ever learned how to do it from the instructor standing in the middle of the ring saying "it's a beautiful thing."

                      (And for the record, my horses were "roaring round the pen" at a relaxed, medium-paced, long-toplined trot.)
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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Tif_Ann View Post
                        When you send them forward, you need to be stepping behind the shoulder, "pushing" with the shoulder that is away from the direction you want them to go while opening the door with the other shoulder by pulling it back. Basically, if you are tracking left you need to be behind the horse's left shoulder, your left shoulder should be back and your right shoulder forward and putting pressure on the horse. Probably about a 45 degree angle with your horses.

                        Then, work on stopping them by stepping in front of their shoulder and changing the direction of your shoulders. Turn your left shoulder in to shut the door. If the horse doesn't stop based on your motion - he's not effectively listening to you. Once you can do that you can add the step back and point the other direction (your shoulders are already in the right position) to ask them to move the other way.
                        Thank you.

                        That is incredibly helpful!
                        The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                        Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                        Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                          Thank you.

                          That is incredibly helpful!
                          You're welcome. I have to say it's extremely difficult to try and explain it while typing ... even without a horse it's much easier to show! And don't get discouraged if it takes a bit for the horse to figure it out, patience is your friend in the round pen.
                          If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                          ~ Maya Angelou

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                          • #14
                            I tried typing this out but gave up. I learned to do this by watching an old Chris Irwin video.

                            Watch a video. Maybe there is one on youtube.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I second watching this in person or on video. It is hard to learn by reading. It is much better to see the video and watch it many times over. You can pay attention to one aspect of the trainer, rewind, and watch it over. Then you can practice it......

                              Definitely worth doing!
                              Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

                              Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!

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                              • #16
                                If I could add...not only is reading a description not enough, but watching it once isn't enough either.
                                Ideally, find out if there is someone locally whose horses perform in the roundpen as you desire, and ask if you can watch. then, when you really like waht they're doing, ask if they would show you once with your own horses. they can help your horse understand what you mean, FIRST, and then can help correct you.

                                So many people assume they watch one Lyons session online and suddenly "anyone can roundpen". Agreed -- anyone can chase a horse away from them in a circle with enough yelling-et-al. but to actually communicate with a horse in their own natural language (hence the phrase natural horsemanship), and make the right requests and get the right results -- like any area of riding -- is an art that takes time and effort and ideally outside help.

                                Imagine if, you've been trained to drive horses with a cart. Suddenly, one day you decide you wish to learn to ride, western, and neckrein. Will someone explaining neckreining in an online post make it so you can do it immediately? unlikely... the same is true for at liberty work with natural horsemanship.

                                We have some ok videos on our page at cwer.org, that are hopefully at least somewhat helpful of seeing a horse working in this scenario. one that we have is 2 horses working simultaneously in the round pen -- including one horse going each direction, going at different gates, etc. It's pretty fun to watch, and helps illuminate some of the points of why, for example, 'chasing' a horse, limits a lot of what you are able to ask of your horse.

                                Best wishes and I hope you are able to work with someone locally who can help you get to see what "this beautiful thing" can look like up close.
                                AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
                                Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)

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                                • #17
                                  Watching is of course better than reading But if you watch and don't understand what's happening ... it doesn't help much. It's easy to miss something subtle like a shoulder angle or the lift of a chin, or the release of a breath and relaxing of your body to release pressure. So ideally you'll be able to watch someone who is good at explaining things.

                                  I once had a "discussion" with my horse while round penning that made even our cowboy trainer stop and ask what I was doing. He was very subtly challenging me with his body language. He was standing still, sideways, with his chest and shoulders lifted and his head up. He wasn't being mean or anything - just a challenge. So I mirrored him, stood sideways, lifted my chest and shoulders, sent off slightly more energy than him, and stood my ground. We looked at each other and stood there "discussing" who was boss for probably 5 minutes. This was early in our training and I feel a key point in our relationship - he wasn't going to move off, he wasn't going to submit, but he also wasn't going to challenge me with violence - he's not like that. After about 5+ minutes of us just standing there and discussing, he finally relaxed his chest and shoulders, dropped his head, licked and chewed, etc ... and walked off quietly on a cue. Problem is round penning requires that kind of subtlety and being willing to use their own communication against them - which is hard to teach.

                                  Pi is the king of body language and patience - he just ignores most of the horses that challenge him, and is patient and willing to wait. But he nearly always takes over the herd, even if he doesn't always choose to be the loud, obnoxious dominant type. You may even think he's one of the weaker ones until he decides he wants something and the herd parts for him. Add in that he's nearly blind and half deaf and it's just STRANGE that he gets such respect from the herd. He was a feral stallion until he was 7 and I assume most of his traits are from that.

                                  Somewhat OT, but here's an example of how Pirate is currently working on gaining dominance in the small herd at my parents' house. We're house sitting. Shamall is your more typical horse - loud, challenging, etc. While Pi pretty much ignores him, gives a little, then walks right up and if you watch closely - pushes Shamall with his shoulder and steps on his front foot to make him move over (tell me horses don't know where they step and what they are doing when they step on our feet?)

                                  http://www.youtube.com/gentlespirith.../0/0mFnVKrfRk4 - Pi is the pinto.

                                  After this, Shamall stayed in the small pen with the baby all day, while Pirate was in the big pen with the rest of the herd. The pens are open but they naturally segregated. Yesterday Pi was the outcast. Since they seem to be pretty even today, though Pi did steal Shamall's herd and mares - I would expect Shamall to be back in the herd tomorrow with Pirate clearly in charge.
                                  If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                                  ~ Maya Angelou

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                                  • #18
                                    Watching is of course better than reading But if you watch and don't understand what's happening ... it doesn't help much. It's easy to miss something subtle like a shoulder angle or the lift of a chin, or the release of a breath and relaxing of your body to release pressure. So ideally you'll be able to watch someone who is good at explaining things
                                    When I suggested watching a video I meant a video where this is explained and demonstrated. That's how I learned to do it.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by egontoast View Post
                                      I tried typing this out but gave up. I learned to do this by watching an old Chris Irwin video.

                                      Watch a video. Maybe there is one on youtube.
                                      Chris Irwin has a series of training videos free on horse.com and at State Line Tack. There is an excellent series on round pen work. http://www.statelinetackvideolibrary...e_training.php

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                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by _Cherie_ View Post
                                        Chris Irwin has a series of training videos free on horse.com and at State Line Tack. There is an excellent series on round pen work. http://www.statelinetackvideolibrary...e_training.php
                                        Thanks very much, Cherie!

                                        I will definitely have a look at those.
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