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Is the RP a more effective, longterm learning environment than any other?
> Perhaps we should refine the question : explain why the round pen is a more
> effective, long-term learning environment than any other.
The challenges I issue and am perfectly willing to back up at
any time are my way of emphasizing my confidence in the techniques
that I have stumbled on during many years of dealing with horse
problems.. In no way are they defensive. My methods will stand
or fall strictly on their merits. The things I use simply MUST
work. Period. If they don't, they either need fixing or dumping.
Of course there is always the human factor involved. Just as there
are MANY people who write and tell how great everything is working
for them, there are those who write and wonder what they did wrong.
My experiences tell me that the chances of it going wrong with me
using the techniques with the same horse under the same circumstances,
is so unlikely the chances are pretty much non-existant. Sometimes
a few words is all it takes to get those who "fail" to succeed.
Your question, "explain why the round pen is a more effective, long-
term learning environment than any other," may not have an answer
when taken as stated. In many cases it is the worst learning
environment. In other cases it is the best learning environment.
The round pen is neither inherently bad or inherently good, its
value or lack thereof depends on its use.
We also have to determine what "long-term learning environment"
means. Does that mean you use the RP for a long term or that
the work performed, however briefly, in the RP has long-term
Let's for the sake of this discussion say that it means the
latter - ANY work done in the long pen having long term
If we use that meaning and then rephrase the question slightly,
"under what circumstance would the round pen be a more effective,
long-term learning environment than any other," there may be more
I recommend people use the RP for one thing and one thing only -
for the times when you absoulutley need to control the horse in
the safest manner possible. It is possible to control any horse
in the RP who is not mentally ill WITHOUT being attached to it.
In the case of many people who seek my help, they are simply
over-horsed. They are terrified of being attached in any manner
to that thing. When that terror affects everything they do on
the ground there is NO logical reason to tell them to climb on
it. Heck, there is no logical reason to tell them, "Just grab
on and don't let him get away with anything. it'll take care of
itself in time." It may or it may not. It is a very hairy way
of dealing with fear.
The ONLY cure for fear is education.
We start the education out in the safest manner possible tailoring
it to the level of fear in the human. We teach the human how to
control the horse in a confined area (the RP) from a convenient
distance that blends minimum effort with minimum risk. Then we
have them mimic a lead horse using herd dynamics. In a few minutes
the horse is connected and mirroring the humans wishes at liberty.
At that point they understand how to achieve this connection anytime
they need to with any horse.
From there we teach how to move this control anywhere in the round
pen at will without any physical connection to the horse. Once they
have control movement down we teach them how to move it outside the
round pen into a trailer, pasture, what have you.
Once they learn to move the control over the ground, we show them
how to move the control into the air. We teach them this by having
them put the horse through a series of tests by attempting to recreate
the undesirable behaviors the horse had previously and then correcting
any that pop up.
Gradually the human is on the horse and then we have them control
the horse from the saddle. Once the horse is controlled easily
around the round pen, we begin moving that control out of the round
pen into the wide open spaces.
Yes, it does carry over outside the pen and down the trail. What
the human has learned to get the horse to do with the assistance
of the RP works even where there is no round pen.
Education has reduced the fear of the rider. In the case of spooking,
education (learning the human has leadership abilities) reduces the
fear, very often eliminates, of the horse.
In one of the pages beginning at http://MarvWalker.com/pysch.htm
tells about Dee my all time favorite trail horse who went from a
dangerous spooker to a practically spookproof horse in less than
10 minutes. She is still spookproof years later. I have on
numerous occasions fallen asleep on her and woke up way down the
Now, is it 100% fool proof? Of course not. Nothing is with horses.
If something SHOULD happen to where the control is in danger of
slipping away or has unexpectly slipped, the human knows how to
re-establish it - the initial round pen work has "trained" the horse
to accept control (more accurately trained the human to create a set
reaction in the horse).
In the area of spooking, the RP, along with carefully thought out
and executed training techniques, the round pen is the most
effective long-term environment learning environment becuse it
enables more control with less danger in the shortest possible
The round pen is NOT a long-term effective learning environment
for lead changes, any kind of training at the faster speeds or
anything where you are physically connected to the horse. The
round pen used for anything other than controlling the horse in
the absence of anything else is detrimental. If you can control
the horse don't take it into the RP. After you have reasonably
lessened control worries, do all your other training on the flat,
on the trails, in the arena, what have you.
There is no substitute for under saddle work or ground work
outside the round pen. There are techniques that can save
you a LOT of time, frustrations and danger.
One of those that I use to form an intense mental connection with
a horse that deals with fear, confidence, trust and resistance
issues that works so flawlessly for me, I share free to anyone who
sends any email to Bonder@MarvWalker.com .
Marv "Dyslexics of the world: UNTIE!" Walker
Upcoming 2000 Clinics
Madison (Atlanta) GA Oct 14-15, 2000
Murfeesboro (Near Nashville) TN, Nov 11-12, 2000
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