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Round penning
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Blaine
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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2012 04:33 pm
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Basically, I don't understand it. I have started three horses from the ground up and have never used it and my horses turned out to be very nice, respectful mounts. I've been watching two young horses be started at the place I board at, they are chased around with a plastic bag tied on the end of a whip and it goes on and on for months.
 I am not trying to degrade it, if it is something truly useful I would just like to understand what the purpose of all of this is? I have watched Buck and the tool he uses to move the horse's hip, get the horse's attention, etc. and I agree with and understand this but the plastic bag thing is not what Buck does so I am clueless! I respect everyone's opinion on here and you all always put it in terms that I understand where you are coming from so I was hoping for your take on the subject. Thank you!

kcooper
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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2012 07:33 pm
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I was just talking with a friend last night while working a couple new horses in the round pen about how the good stuff is so subtle yet so meaningful that you really need to have someone explain what the horse does and what you do and why over and over again while you watch and try bits of it yourself because there is so much happening that its hard to take all in at once.


Its much more to do with the 'feel' you create in the space between you and the horse. And less about what you 'do' with the flag.... I have learnt that the flag puts a pressure to the intentions that you exude from your body such as drive or draw. Two fairly opposite requests but you might use the flag the same.... its the intention from your body and what you release upon that's different. I guess what is not subtle though is that if you are effective with the intentions you display, the pressures you use and the release you provide the horse he will find comfort in a very very short time and if you aren't releasing your pressures when they try that thing you were after they will continue to be visually uncomfortable...as in not OK.


I'm sure that was as clear as mud but ...trying to explain this exact thing has been on the fore front of my mind for the last little while so I thought I would give it a try and hope I haven't done an injustice here.

In regards to the round pen these are Joshs words to me awhile ago:
"What I am trying to teach you is a concept, not a method or a bunch of steps."


Kim

AdamTill
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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2012 09:53 pm
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There are people who use the round pen to create a safe, enclosed space for the horse and handler to interact, and those that use it to prevent the horse from escaping...the latter are far more common.

Some people choose never to use a round pen, and that's fine. It just provides a really nice way of letting the horse learn to move out before the horse has a firm command of direction under guidance. I've only had access to a round pen in clinics, and my horse is doing fine. That said, there are a few times where it would have been really nice (google "lesson of the spur" here) to have consistent access for a while to a place where direction was taken out of the equation.

Buck's flag is really no different conceptually from a whip with a bag on the end, it just has certain advantages/disadvantages (ie durability vs delicacy etc).

Last edited on Thu Dec 6th, 2012 09:55 pm by AdamTill

Shelly Forceville
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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2012 11:07 pm
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Aside from chasing horses in a round pen sometimes I think people also get a false sense of security from the round pen and end up getting the horse and themselves in trouble because they do things with a horse that they would never try out in the open. They do things with the horse that he isn't ready for because the round pen limits the blowups some. If they would get the horse to where he is good outside that round pen then they could get on him either spot and have a good ride. This is what I am learning anyway... I've ridden enough blow-ups in a round yard to know how much better it is to get your horse feeling okay.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Dec 7th, 2012 04:43 am
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So, Blaine, I am going to turn your question around in order to help you. What do YOU conceive the purpose of roundpenning to be? Let me hear your answer to this, and you and I will continue from there. -- Dr. Deb

ilam
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 Posted: Fri Dec 7th, 2012 03:31 pm
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I did get first-hand experience with my Arab what it does when a horse gets chased around, rather than using the round pen properly. The trainer that did groundwork with him told me eventually that he chased him around until he was dripping sweat, then the horse was following him around "like a puppy" and everything all appeared ok to the trainer. He was able to touch him all over, he also got him to wear a surcingle at one point. Then he'd turn him out to pasture for a few days and when he started working with him again, he had to start all over, the horse did not remember anything (the trainer's words, not mine). The first thing he told me when I showed interest in this horse was "This horse does not retain anything!". He tried to discourage me from taking him. I did ask the breeder whether (on the tiny outside chance) he had had a normal birth, that was because I had seen 'Buck" the documentary, but that was not the case.

Later I then found that his previous experience literally rendered the whole round penning process useless for me. I had to get pretty creative in order to get him to connect with me, and to convey to him I was never trying to chase him, and even now it still crops up on occasion that he perceives that I am chasing him, even when I am trying hard to show him that I am not. We are getting there, through lots of trial and error and experimentation. It took forever until I had him leading well, he was so uncomfortable to follow you, especially from behind. He even became uncomfortable and resentful when I taught him to follow/pony off of my older horse. He could only walk slowly, as soon as I'd ask his feet to speed up a little, he's pin his ears and became very defensive.

We now have much of it ironed out, hopefully. It is ironic that I first learned 'round penning' from another clinician's videos, whom I know Buck hates, a cowboy at the ranch where I used to board my older horse helped me with the initial round penning session and he also put a ton of pressure on my horse. Back then, I thought this was the way to go.... it appeared to work very well with my Walker. I didn't see the ramifications of that whole approach until many years later.

Isabel

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Dec 8th, 2012 02:07 am
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Once again, Ilam, I am requesting that Blaine communicate by replying to me. You can tell your stories later, or ask questions if you wish; but please let me help Blaine first. Then the rest of the discussion can unfold properly. -- Dr. Deb

Blaine
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 Posted: Mon Dec 10th, 2012 09:34 am
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Sorry I took so long to reply, haven't been on the computer for a few days.

In response to Dr. Deb's question of what I think it is:

 I can only tell you what I think it is for by telling you how I used it. I purchased a 3 year old that had no respect for space and didn't know how to lunge. I put him him in the roundpen because obviously it is a much smaller area, I could control him with my body language without having a lead rope or lungeline on him. I taught him to move away from pressure (I move towards his shoulder, hip, etc.) I taught him to "lunge" without the lunge line so he knew all the commands, walk, trot, canter, whoa, go out, before heading out to the larger arena and being attached to a lunge line.
 With a green horse, I understand the use of a smaller confined space.
Here's what I've seen that I don't understand: putting an already trained horse in it and "roundpenning" it. Running it around and around, cutting it off and running it the other direction, when the horse is trained to lunge. Starting a green horse in the roundpen with a plastic bag tied to a whip, flapping it at the horse and when the horse ignores it, chasing it around and around again. Here's what I think the plastic bag should do and tell me if I'm wrong: be used in the same fashion as Buck uses his flag, and beyond that, to teach the horse when something scary is flying your way, the best response is to stop and calmly observe the object and then you stop moving the plastic bag to teach them that when they stop, the scary item stops so that if you are in the saddle, the horse doesn't go running off at the slightest spooky object. Chasing it seems counter intuitive to me.
 I'm sure there are lots of holes in my understanding, which is why I came here, so feel free to fill them in!

Last edited on Mon Dec 10th, 2012 09:38 am by Blaine

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Dec 21st, 2012 10:05 pm
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Yes, Blaine, I've taken some time to get back to you also, thanks to having spent the past month in and out of docors' offices and the hospital. I'm back now and in the recovery phase and so have a little time to devote to your concerns.

So you have answered the question pretty well -- it seems you have an idea of how to use a roundpen to the benefit rather than to the detriment of your horse. You have not remembered to tell me the very most important use for the roundpen, but I give you credit for those things that you do understand.

If you want to read up on what the MOST important use for the roundpen is, then I suggest you use the Google advanced search function -- entering our Forum address in the appropriate box in order to limit the scope of the search to just this Forum. The address is http://esiforum.mywowbb.com. Then in the keyword search box, put "highest purpose for starting a colt" or just "starting a colt" or "starting a young horse", and read through the list until you hit the one where I explain this.

In the second part of your reply, you cite a bunch of wrong ways to use the roundpen, things that are in a lot of the videotapes that are available for purchase, which are on the level of "making the horse run until his lungs scream for his legs to stop." I have heard the man who said this on one of his videotapes later deny that he ever said it, but I think because the statement is on the tape that it would really be rather fruitless to deny. The truth is that this man, along with many other men and women who over the past thirty years have made "training videos" or "colt starting videos" simply do not know what they are doing. They haven't the least correct idea. That does not make it illegal for them to produce videos for you to purchase.

Neither can I tell you, Blaine, why unqualified people stick their neck out; except to say that I do suspect that, even if their horsemanship sucks, they ARE able to multiply. Back when our teacher Ray Hunt was alive, I quite frequently saw them doing that; they would multiply the $300 rider fee X the 30 riders in the horsemanship class, and they would then multiply that by the fact that Ray would probably teach at least 50 such classes per year, and they would then say to themselves, "surely there's room in there for me to make some dough." This goes right along with what I said above; in our society today, there are lots of places where you can buy second-rate merchandise, and many peope are fool enough to believe that second-rate merchandise is good enough.

So Blaine, here's the deal, and it goes back to the Romans who said it two thousand years ago: "caveat emptor". That's Latin for "let the buyer beware".

What this means is that it is YOU who will have to decide. YOU will have to become able to tell who to ride and train with -- and who not to. As a direct means of assisting you, we here recommend Harry Whitney, Buck Brannaman, Joe Wolter, Tom Curtin, Bryan Neubert and his family, Josh Nichol, and a few others. They do indeed know what they are doing; they understand the deep purposes as well as the particular techniques. If you have not been with one of them, then if you want to improve your ability to start young horses and/or to use the roundpen well, then you should make arrangements as soon as possible to go and spend time with them.

While you're doing that, I also want you to really think about this, and remember: judging the other guy for 'doing it wrong' does you no good, does them no good, and does no good for any horse, either. Your one and only job, Blaine, is to set the best example you can with your own livestock -- and to do that, you need to go be with teachers who can guide you in the right way. -- Dr. Deb

 

AnoukW
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 Posted: Wed Jan 16th, 2013 11:46 pm
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It seems quite a lot of people get confused at this concept, or just assume one way and keep doing it, even though it doesn't really work at all. What someone said about using the roundpen to take the direction out of the equation - true. This is really the ONLY use for a roundpen, to keep the horse close to you. You only need it while you need to keep the horse close to you and he is not yet so far that he will stay close to you when invited to do so by himself. Any small space that contains a circle works for this, a 15 x 15 square (this is what Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling uses instead of a roundpen) works too. With a square, you will also immediately notice when you are doing it wrong.. You put too much pressure on the front, the horse will stop in the corners. You put too much pressure, period, the horse will run away from you into the corners.

The point of a roundpen, whatever you do in it (join-up, or whatever any other trainer calls it), is to create a close, safe space to start on your communication with your horse (or reinforce it at a later point). While you are in that roundpen, you need to be having a conversation with your horse. This involves 'installing' the stay away from me, go, stop, turn, come to me (the end of a join-up). Your energy needs to match that from the horse: with a lazier, slow horse, you can be quite active and 'chase' them for a moment to let them know you really do want them to get up and go, with a scared or high strung horse, you stay very calm, slow movements, and first give the horse time to get used to its surroundings and relax, and only when they are comfortable you start your conversation (a horse that is afraid and high on adrenalin won't learn a thing!). Once you have that down, and your body language is good enough that you can send them away, make them stop on the outside of the ring, and invite them back in (and for good measure, walk up to them while they calmly stand still on the outside), you don't really need the roundpen anymore, since you and your horse are now on the same line with these cues, and they will be the same in any space.

You can, however, keep using it to teach the horse the beginnings of ground driving, carrying a rider, and getting them used to anything (desensitizing, what is what you explained in the last part of your last message).

The important thing is that you know what you are trying to achieve. Roundpenning just because won't get you anywhere. Also, don't overuse it. Get your basic communication down and let it be a safe area for the young horse to get their bearings while being backed and taught. Then, stay out of it, unless you and your horse are getting those basics confused again (which should not happen if you do some groundwork, liberty work or lunging regularly, since you will be using the same cues).


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