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Roundpen vs. squarepen
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Blaze
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 Posted: Sat Sep 19th, 2009 02:13 am
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Hi Dr. Deb,

I'm in the process of setting up one end of my arena for winter work. I have the resources to set-up one third of my "seasonal" riding  area with non-slippery footing and lighting. I also have safe panels for the fencing.

I'm wondering if there is any advantage or disadvantage to setting up my panels in a square configuration or as a roundpen. My horses all average 14.2/14.3 hands. I'm thinking a 60 foot or perhaps 66 foot pen would be an adequate size.

This area will mostly be for lunging, ground work, improving the walk, and transitions. Any extensive trot/canter work I will trailer to an indoor or ride out if the weather is clear. One horse is green -  all 3 are for the most part very quiet.

I found this thread where you discuss use of a roundpen and the sizing: http://esiforum.mywowbb.com/view_topic.php?id=456&forum_id=1&highlight=roundpen

I did a quick internet search that didn't reveal too much other than perhaps historically a square pen or manege was used.

Aside from setting up my training area I am curious about how the use of a roundpen came into being. Do you cover this in your book Conquerors by chance? Or know of any other resources I could study?

Thanks for your time.

Erin

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Sep 19th, 2009 11:13 pm
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Erin, a roundpen is not really to be used for any of the functions you mention. If you want to longe your horse, you can do that better and more safely in the open arena. Improving the walk also needs to be in a large area. Transitions are, likewise, not specially helped by reducing the amount of space.

The one and only real purpose of the roundpen is for the development of liberty work. We use the pen at a sixty-foot diameter so as to make it, on the one hand, big enough that a totally green horse or a mustang can be in there with us and yet not be so close to us that it scares him so bad that he feels he needs to jump out. We have it not any amount bigger than sixty feet across so that in teaching a horse that has had a little time and is no longer terrified, we don't have to walk ten miles and wear ourselves out.

The pen CAN also be smaller than sixty feet; Allen Pogue has posted several times to say that he likes a smaller pen for certain purposes, as most of his work is to develop horses with a definite "circus" set of skills. Small pens are used with horses that have no fear at all and that are learning specialized skills, such as turning figure-8's at liberty, rearing on command, jumping through a hoop, or working in a liberty troup with other horses.

The walls or rails of the pen serve the purpose of preventing the horse from running away or increasing the distance between him and us. He has to be "about so close" to us or else our statements to the horse become ineffective. He has, in short, got to be close enough that if he throws us a thread, and we accept that thread, that the thread will not be broken in the next instant because you push just a little bit too hard and he gets scared and runs off and breaks it.

The pen confines the horse to being in the classroom with us; the pen is the classroom, in which he is -- gently enough, but firmly enough too -- compelled to pay attention to whatever lesson we are offering.

The reason that the roundpen is not a good place to either longe or ride, is the factor that I call "fence effect". To a horse, the perimeter fence has a force field coming out of it. That force field causes the horse to want to displace either the midpart of his body, or else the midpart and the haunches together, toward the center of the circle. This is tantamount to moving crookedly, and that would be one thing you would not want to practice. Therefore, you go outside of the pen -- out to the center of your larger riding area, where the horse is not very close to any fence -- and that is where you will have the least fence effect and the greatest chance of having him learn to go straight on the curved line.

When you are working with a horse in the roundpen for its justified purpose, you will of course be balancing the "push" you give to the inside hind foot with the "pull" you exert by calling the horse's head and forequarter. In this manner, totally at liberty, you teach the horse to come in off the rail toward you. Learning this balance is the key to all roundpenning and all liberty work -- that the untracking of the inside hind leg drives the horse to straighten, even against fence effect; drives the horse to curve his body correctly, thus bringing the forequarter in to face you. And then in that moment when the horse looks at you and throws you the thread -- his Birdie comes to you -- then you learn to accept the thread and pull on it, gently, just as if you were pulling gently upon the lead rope, and the whole horse then comes to you, softly and submissively, forgetting altogether to lead with his haunches or stiffen them in any manner at all. Learning this balance is for you the primary purpose of roundpenning, and teaching this response is for the horse likewise the primary purpose.

Why you have a round rather than a square pen is a consideration for working the frightened, very green, or mustang horse. If such a horse is in a small pen and he starts running, and the pen is square, he will like as not run up into a corner. There he will "stick", not being able to figure out how to go off to his right or left, and in some danger of choosing the worst option (especially if you in your own greenness press forward toward him the least amount too much) -- he will jump over. To jump out of a roundpen generally the horse has to be a lot MORE motivated and/or terrified, and to get it done they will have to cut clear across the whole width of the roundpen. In a square pen, they can get bunched up in a corner and just pop out from where they are standing -- not a wreck you really want.

So, long and short, I wouldn't bother if I were you with building any kind of restricted area at all, unless you are (1) desirous of learning how to start mustangs, (2) desirous of learning how to work with a more experienced horse at liberty, and (3) are under the direct supervision at all times of somebody who is expert at roundpenning. Please pay attention to no. 3: very great harm is done every day by people who get a videotape from some well self-advertised guru or other and then figure they "know" how to roundpen. The man most well known for producing such videotapes does not, in my opinion, have anything like a correct or full grasp of the power of the razor that he has taken up. -- Dr. Deb

Blaze
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 Posted: Sun Sep 20th, 2009 02:57 am
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Thanks for the reply.

Nope, not wanting to work mustangs!

I have used a smaller enclosed area under guidance from a knowledgeable teacher for groundwork exercises. It really opened my eyes to how sensitive and perceptive horses are and how "loud" a lot of people are. I think I know who you are talking about in number 3 in your response - that particular person and others like them make me want to puke.

It sounds like If I wanted to continue with doing liberty work a 60 foot round pen would be a good set-up.

All 3 of my horses are responive to being called off the rail and squareing up to me - I hesitate to use the term "hooking on" because I've heard a lot of people use it to describe different things.

The way hooking on was explained to me is there are 3 different ways to execute it.
  1. Your horse comes off the rail and squares up to you - like you explained - drawing the outside eye in, while the inside leg steps under. This would be from any gait you requested the horse to do so.
  2. As you're petting your horse and walking around its body that you could walk from the left to right (or R to L), step off and your horse will turn to follow you - without the use of a lead.
  3. If memory serves me correctly - once again while you're petting your horse you step away and they follow.
What are some other types of things a person can work on at liberty with their horse? I'm really hoping to get a pedestal built or repurpose something I can use as a pedestal. I've used my mounting block but it only has enough room for front feet only.

If there is another thread somewhere in the forum that outlines a progression of liberty exercies I apologize and I'll try and hunt it up.

What is a good size for a riding arena?

Thanks again,

Erin

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Sep 21st, 2009 06:51 am
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Blaze, a horse hooks on when it sends or gives you its Birdie. No matter how far its Birdie may fly out from a horse, the Birdie is always connected back to the horse by the Thread. Thus, if the horse gives you its Birdie, and you walk off carrying the Birdie, then you are also pulling on the horse via the Thread. So long as neither you nor the horse breaks the Thread, you will be able to lead him around by means of the Thread, just as if you were holding a lead rope. Or more so; Ray Hunt used to say that when the horse really committed to giving you a strong Thread, it was 'stronger than any chain'. This is a picture -- a metaphor, a teaching tool -- to help you see what you are doing and what the horse is doing when he hooks on.

There are not three ways of picking up the Birdie; there are an infinite number of ways. This is stuff you don't just do in a roundpen; you do it every livin' minute you're around the horse. If the person doesn't do it, they don't have any real control -- they just think they do, and that's because they are still living and perceiving on a merely surface level. When you live in a way where you're expecting to communicate with the horse by means of the Birdie and the Thread, then you're living on the same level or in the same world as the horse, and you will thus actually be able to communicate with him in a way that is just as sure and certain as if you were conversing verbally with a human friend.

Blaze, there is no 'progression of liberty exercises.' Remember? There are no levels; there is no such thing as a level. So what you do instead is you go be with a teacher who knows how to do liberty work properly, i.e. by means of the Birdie (whether they actually talk about the Birdie or not, you will be able to see and tell whether they are working by the Birdie). And from the teacher you learn a variety of things that a person MIGHT do with their horse at liberty.

When you can teach a horse one of these maneuvers, so that he executes it softly and cheerfully, then you can go ahead and teach him another one. You teach them one at a time, or I should rather say, you teach the essential parts of one, which you will then, when the time comes, find to be applicable also to several others. These essential parts are to be practiced to repletion, and they include stopping, moving forward, untracking, drawing in, sending away, waiting, stepping back, and stepping the forequarter around. These are the building blocks out of which everything conceivable is built. Success in doing any of these things depends heavily upon your ability to apply pressure at the right time, your understanding that the removal of pressure is the greatest reward, and above all, your ability to combine these two concepts so that you remove pressure at the right time.

The practitioner who becomes good at THIS, will not need food treats in order to train what are called "tricks". This does not mean that food treats cannot be used; but they must never be used in lieu of applied pressure and the perfectly timed removal of the pressure when the horse realizes what is wanted and complies.

So, as you see, I continue to tell you that you do not need, and probably should not be using, a roundpen -- unless your teacher is right there with you. Otherwise, you will find that you will be practicing these essentials just as much from the saddle as from the ground. Once the horse follows a feel on the bridle, it does not matter whether he is at liberty or mounted.

As to the size of a riding arena, go have a look at your neighbors' pens and see if you can see what would work best on your own property. You know as well as I do that riding arenas vary greatly in size and shape, and there is no one ideal size. It all depends on the ground you have and what you're expecting to do with your horse, with or without cattle. You need to have enough room so that there is plenty of room, and if you have friends or boarders at your place, or if you plan to sponsor clinics, then you'll need to take that part into consideration too.

Nuno Oliveira used to say 'if you can't train your horse in the confines of a 20-meter circle, then you can't train a horse.' -- Dr. Deb

 

Blaze
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 Posted: Mon Sep 21st, 2009 01:40 pm
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Thanks!

AdamTill
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 Posted: Mon Sep 21st, 2009 06:35 pm
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Liberty work can be anything you do normally with tack...just without the tack.

When I think of really good liberty work, I remember a video I saw of a ground driving session where a horse was being worked on long lines that weren't there. The horse was walking about three feet in front of the handler, and would go through the gaits, bend, and collect in perfect harmony with the handler;  it was as if someone had gone in after the fact and erased the lines from the video. The best part was the fact that this wasn't the horse's regular handler, but a visiting clincian instead.

I like to try to confirm the things I work on by asking my horse to do them loose in the field before I bring him in - just for fun, really. If he's willing and able to do them there, I figure he both understands them and enjoys the work.

I got to work with Josh Nichol again last week, and he helped to refine some of the details that my horse and I had been working on (sticky shoulder as a result of some spacial confusion between us for one, and more effort by the inside hind in our lateral work). After the first day was over, I went out to his paddock to feed before heading home, and Tindur was willing to go through our entire lesson again with no tack involved. I could ask him to release a few blocks in his neck through the "rein", connect that "rein" to his hip, and start up in a lateral step rather then flowing into it. Very cool stuff, and skies the limit really. When the horse is working off a feel rather then a physical connection, "liberty reins" feel just a real as normal ones.

Jeannie
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 Posted: Tue Sep 22nd, 2009 11:18 pm
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It is ironic that the more people rely on equipment -- fences, halters with chains, ropes, cross-ties,etc -- to control a horse, the less likely they will be able to communicate with, and therefore, actually control the horse.

Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Fri Sep 25th, 2009 02:53 pm
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Hello Blaze et.al.

 Dr Deb wrote:

 These essential parts are to be practiced to repletion, and they include stopping, moving forward, untracking, drawing in, sending away, waiting, stepping back, and stepping the forequarter around.

The picture attached illustrates an easy way to practice all of these exercises using a corner of a square pen, a pedestal and a pair of whips..

 The method is quite simple to execute and the result easy for the horse to understand.  What you do is to first lead the horse around the  square pen and 'introduce'  him to the corners, where you halt, perhaps walk a few steps back, or turn inward to proceed to the next corner. After a relatively few repetitions, add a pedestal as pictured,  set near a corner and ask or show the horse to turn inward and step up.. praise lavishly, reward with a cookie if you choose ( this does expedite the process, it is like getting a paycheck) .

 In the beginning it is usually easier if you use a lead rope to draw the horse out of the corner and forward towards you ( on the otherside of the pedestal.

Now after a couple of sessions you should be able to  dispense with the lead rope and use a pair of whips.  I choose to use a 60" straight guider and a long lunge.

 Just like I have seen every great circus trainer do.. The reason is that to use one whip is like tying one arm behind you back, you will have a 'weak' side which the horse will immediately notice and take advantage of. The lunge is used to send the horse forward while you maintain a wide ,safe working space. the guider is used to indicate direction or the strength of your intention.

 By this I mean  when the tip of the guider is held high it garners more of the horse's respect or attention.. when it is lowered it indicates that you are more 'satisfied' with the horse's compliance. When you place both whips under your arm in a reversed position and approach the horse open-handed it indicates completion.

 The basic reason we incorporate a pedestal is to give the horse a very obvious piece of real estate that is 'his'.. something a flight species is in need of.

 Once a horse has become accustomed to standing boldly on 'his' pedestal then you can  begin to ask for more actions, like walking the hind quarters around, saluting -- first one leg then the other, stepping up with all four, then stepping off with just the front. or perhaps just a 'smile'..

 Prof. Jesse Beery wrote in his horse training pamphlets that a horse only understands "actions and objects", he did not elaborate on the fact that they also can understand  'associations' of the two. Though I am sure he understood this quite well.

 It is creating useful associations that make early training progress at a relatively rapid pace.. The horse pictured is a big rawboned Mustang that had very little interest in doing anything a handler asked. The picture was taken 3 sessions into this 'trick'.

Allen

 

Attachment: Spirit on ped.JPG (Downloaded 583 times)

rifruffian
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 Posted: Sat Sep 26th, 2009 09:12 pm
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Interesting post, Allen.....especially for me  the paragraph referring to the position of the tip of the guider. I had 'accidentally' found this out when manoeuvring with my lunge whip.

Last edited on Sat Sep 26th, 2009 09:13 pm by rifruffian

Blaze
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 Posted: Sun Sep 27th, 2009 12:21 am
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Thanks for the reply Allen.

The thought that the pedestal is to be the horse's own piece of property is a good one.

To me it seems like when I go watch my mom work her agility dog. All of the handlers bring along their dog's crates or x-pens and they have their own spot to chill between exercises.

Are your pipe panels painted or do they tape on them? Are the colors for a decorative touch or do they have some sort of meaning training wise?

Thanks,

Erin

Jeannie
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 Posted: Sun Sep 27th, 2009 04:21 am
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Allen,  I have fond your insights into how horses learn  to be great food for thought. I was inspired to get a large heavy board with a rubber mat on top after seeing your photos of the plie bow. Now when I bring it out, my horse puts his front feet on it and looks around for me, so he can do his bow, so clearly he is associating the object with the trick.
     I was curious if your horses who know the " rules" ever correct the other horses who might be doing their own thing?
                             Jeannie

Patricia Barlow Irick
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 Posted: Mon Sep 28th, 2009 01:08 am
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I have two square pens to train mustangs. One is 20x20 and the other is 24x24. The corners give the mustang somewhere to get farther away if needed. I rarely use the 60 ft round pen we have here unless it is to train following at liberty. The corners of a square pen automatically teach the mustang to turn if you give them a tug each time they get to the corner. The USFS is going to provide me with four 12x12 pens for training..... one of the problems I have had is that the horses are all kept in common pens and sorting the trainee out gets adrenaline levels up.

We just finished up our first roundup and adoptions we placed 40 horses in adoptive homes and have 8 left. The old horses that were trained were all adopted and they were no harder to train than the foals and yearlings.

Round pen abuse is extremely common. People don't understand the concept of "release" and just get fixated on chasing. Developing running away as a habitual response is a very common problem the round pen creates.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Sep 28th, 2009 09:22 am
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Patricia, the problem is certainly not created by the roundness of the roundpen. It is created by the ineptitude or ignorance of the handlers.

I never use a small square pen, as I indicated initially in this thread, and I get along just fine with whatever horse I'm working on, mustang or 'bothered and troubled' or somebody's buggered-up "pet" that they have nearly ruined by teaching it to run away. I also never use two sticks, like Allen advocates, the reason being that I don't need ANY stick. I've never felt like I had either of my hands tied behind my back. My teacher once suggested to me, very gently, that "....Debbie might not need a flag." Understatement of the year.

The point is this: I respect both you and Allen, and what this discussion brings out is that the 'Art of the Thread' very much depends for its execution upon the kind and amount of inner energy that the handler brings to the situation. So I don't use two sticks because I can create a very strong Thread without a 'guider'; and, as my teacher said, as for the stick on the driving side -- well, just Debbie's energy might be plenty. Yet Ray Hunt, whom you all know I respect, often used a flag, and so do many others who are carrying on Ray's legacy, and I would gladly send anyone to them for help or instruction.

For me, though, I have had to cultivate my own style. This reflects a saying of my teacher's: "This is something I had to do by myself, for myself." There is a way to send energy out of your hands. I have been very interested in this phenomenon or human capability, and have lived it and developed it within myself, and attempted, through the Birdie Book, to share some of it with other people.

I can also coach someone else to improve their roundpenning skills. I call this 'close coaching'. They very often don't realize all that needs to be realized about every detail of their body position when they are in the roundpen with the horse....this is the real root cause of the problem you mention, Patricia. They also don't read the horse well enough, so they don't see when the penny has dropped. If the student will comply and try their very hardest to do exactly as I tell them when they are in the pen, with my voice to guide them they are soon able to stop inadvertently teaching their horse to run away, and they soon become able to call him in and then produce proper, calm 'up' transitions with no flee in there as they learn to send the horse away. Gradually then I withdraw my voice support and then they can do it on their own, and not only that, they can do it whether they are in the roundpen or in any other kind of pen. I call this 'learning the principle of the thing.'

Now you on the one hand, and Allen on the other, have goals that are to some extent different than my own when working with horses. You also have chosen different sorts of horses to work with. I'm interested in hearing your approaches and you both have been good help here.

Just remember that it's the operator, not the equipment. If the operator knows what they are doing, they set their own situation up to succeed, and every person who reads this thread needs to remember that.

Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Wed Sep 30th, 2009 05:27 am
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Hello Dr. Deb  et.al.

  Always seems appropriate to give the good Dr. her say, and then let it sit a while so all the interested members can digest and integrate the knowledge.

  To answer a couple of questions:

Jeanie, Do the older, more experienced horses attempt to correct or guide the young ones?  Absolutely!

Patricia,

 I understand the delimma of having to move semi-wild (or is is semi-tame) horses from paddock to pen from training. The solution definitely is not individual 12x12 pens for training.

 An alternative would be an aisle way, or alley way that connects the turnout living area to the training area so that you are not required to first catch and then lead the half-tame horse.  12x12 is WAY too small.. You have to allow the horse just enough room to move ( safely away from the handler) and yet not so much that he can get up a good head of steam and try to launch himself over the panels, if pressed too hard..  the actual size will be dictated by your training style.  In any event the panels should be at least six feet tall.

 Erin,

    The pipe fence (and buildings) are painted red,white and green as a reminder that every day is like Christmas when you have a trick pony in the barn. Also the white sections make the fence much more visible in low-light conditions.

   Another consideration is that I want to inspire others to look at their own situation and make it such that when you go out to play or work with your horses you have a clean, tidy, bright, lively environment that is 'uplifting' .. The idea is to have fun all the while knowing in your heart that you have gone the extra mile for your horse's benefit and safety.  

Other exercises you can begin with are limited only by your own imagination and yet more importantly, IF you provide an enriched environment your horse(s) will soon begin to use their own imagination and start to come up with new behaviors that (if  you are clever and quick) are worth capturing.

  I cannot take credit for the best  Liberty 'tricks' my horses know. They evolved from the horse's  ideas. Now sure perhaps at first it merely was an evasion tactic, but the important fact is, that it was the horse's idea. I simply saw the opportunity to "put a button on it" and get the horse to repeat it.

   Something I have learned is that if, in the beginning, a new behavior is the horse's idea then consolidating it into a learned behavior is extremely easy. The alternative is impress your ideas upon the horse, which usually is not quite so easy.

 I find it very curious to know that this is the corollary to Ray Hunt's dictum:

 "Make your ideas the horse's ideas" ..

The corollary version for Liberty schooling might be stated as:

 "Allow the horse's ideas to become your ideas".

 after all Liberty schooling really is: "The Realm of Equus".   

 Specific/ Basic exercies:

First and foremost, teach the horse to respond to his/her name. IF the horse does not absolutely know their name they cannot be held responsible when you call them out and they ignore you.

 From that the horse should come when called and go when commanded. They should 'go' at whatever pace you ask. They should understand to quicken or to slow the pace on cue and yet not change gait. To halt on cue, and remain in place as long as you require.  

 To reverse direction.

 To circle about a specific locus (a center point). This could be a traffic cone, a pedestal  or in the final analysis any spot on the large perimeter of the ring you dictate. This is the making of a pirouette or waltz at Liberty.

 To work "into pressure"  this means that if you assume a position well in front of the moving horse's inside shoulder while walking backwards. The horse is expected to continue forward even though you are putting pressure on it to perform. This typically is increased amplitude of the action or lift of the front legs (shoulders and body). To do this the horse has to have adequate drive from behind, this requires that you use the long lunge whip in a low flicking motion to maintain or create the necessary impulsion all the while indicating to the front legs with the guider that you also are asking for more activity.

 This type of training is a great exercise in mental agility and composure.

 From this exercise you can delve into the intricacies of creating the classical Spanish Walk, and then variations of the trotting gaits. With a naturally endowed horse you can go so far as to achieve the terre a terra at Liberty. This is a beautiful Baroque gait where the horse punctuates each stride of a galopade with a levade. This taken to an even higher level of activity and the horse can execute a lancade (the Lance) .. where with each strident levade instead of tucking in the forelegs the horse strikes out with an alternate  foreleg.  This is such an exaggerated action that when it happens you have to stop ever so briefly (in your own mind) and shake the cobwebs out and give the horse his due reward for such a performance.

The way I have been able to explore these possibilities has been with the use of a single pillar also called a "circus pole' or in old  California, "The Palo Verde".. I choose to call it a Liberty Pole.

 The idea is that the horse is connected via a 13ft lead rope to a 7.5' tall pillar with a swivel on top. This allows the handler to assume different positions relative to the horse's body and  direction of movement and yet the horse is still 'connected' to a center point (the pillar). The handler (whose hands are free) can be in front, to the inside, to the outside or even stand completely to one side while the horse circles the pillar on his own.

 It is "through' these lessons that the horse regains his complete Liberty. Hence the name: The Liberty Pole.

 Here are four of eight principles I learned from a high school master that guide my thinking while schooling horses in this manner:

1. Have the horse's attention and respect

2. Prevent the evasions

3. Use repetition to relax the horse into the new exercise

4.  Proceed from the simple to the complex.

now, thinks about it and go have some fun with your horses!

 regards,

Allen Pogue

Dripping Springs, Texas

Attachment: 03-11-06 G ATER SPANISH TROT.JPG (Downloaded 470 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Sep 30th, 2009 08:51 pm
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Allen, that is an absolutely MARVELOUS picture. I admire the way you get results -- you know how to apply pressure so that the horse is clear as to what you want him to do, and you can raise the 'excitement' level in the horse enough that he really gets thinking about doing his very best, his utmost. Yet at the same time he never tips over into hysteria, panic, or fear. This is a high art and one reason I'm glad to recommend that people who want to start their horses on a circus style of training go to you for instruction.

There are some details in the photo that I want to be sure that everyone sees:

1. The horse is tied to the Palo Verde pole. You can just see the red-colored lead rope. Note that it is SLACK. Before Allen could even think of asking the horse for this much energy output, the horse would already have to know how to trot around the post in the ordinary, more relaxed manner, while tied to it -- so that he knows never to take the slack out of the rope.

2. The horse is "straight on the curve". Note the shoulder and ribcage bulge slightly to the outside. The neck curves to the inside. There is no hint that the hindquarters might swing out, or that either pair of legs (particularly the hind pair) might cross.

3. There is no "flee" being expressed by the horse. He is not running AWAY from Allen's green driving stick; he is RESPONDING TO it. This must be learned long before you ever tie the horse up to the pole, or to anything else for that matter.

4. Allen is not touching the horse with the stick. This, also, has long since become unnecessary or indeed would be "way too much". Students MUST learn how much energy they are putting forth at any given time -- this is the reason to forbid sticks to students in the beginning; so that they do not become dependent upon the stick as the silly people with clickers are dependent upon those gimmicks. The sticks are not gimmicks, though, when the operator knows himself deeply enough. Then, they become 'focusing rods' that can direct and concentrate the energy that is flowing out of the handler's arms and chest. Whether sticks are used or not, it is not the STICK the horse is responding to, but the projected energy; it is my belief that this is, in fact, primarily what horses 'see' -- what they really go by.

5. Notice the dark colt tied up to the neighboring pole. He is watching and learning. I wish the photo didn't cut him off....I think the expression on that horse's face is just as interesting as the one on the face of the red horse performing. Allen has said he thinks the "watching and learning" thing makes his work with the "next horse" much easier....they have already learned from the first horse that (a) it is something horses can do (b) it won't hurt them or get them in any other kind of trouble if they do it (c) what the signals from Allen probably mean.

Great thread, folks, and thanks for the big help, Allen. -- Dr. Deb


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