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[RC] loose horses, attaching to side of halter, other horse stuff, round penning, etc. - Ed Kilpatrick

hi all,  one of the first big organized rides i attended was Ride 2000, sixty five miles of pleasure trail riding across central florida.  we leapfrogged the trailers ahead each day to the next camp.  there were loose horses every night. there were about 175 horses in camp, too.  we saw all manner of containment used and this was my first exposure to electric corrals or what our group came to refer to as "toilet paper fences".  some people hobbled their horses near camp, others had picket lines, rented corral panels, ground stakes and many just tied to their trailers.  we had a livestock trailer then, so we just tied our horses to the trailer.  didnt have a loose horse or one tangled in a line all week.  woke up countless times by other horses running/wandering loose in the middle of the night.  learned a lot from that ride, mostly, what not to do.  someone mentioned having a person to check on how horses are contained in camp.  this is done at natrc competitive trail r ides, by the horsemanship judge.  it is done for a couple of reasons. primarily for the safety of the horses, secondarily as part of your scoresheet. a great advantage to this, is that you have someone giving an assessment to your method of containment.  often, we dont notice things that are potential hazards, because we are accustomed to what has worked for us, and if it looks ok to us, then it must be ok.   not always the case.  it is a good idea to get another opinion. i, for one, take constructive criticism rather well, and i dont mind sharing what i have learned.

as for the round pen training, what is it good for, how do you do it, etc.  one person already mentioned this, but some of the initial round pen work was intended to get a horse that is untrained and will not let you catch him to come to you. round penning has been around a long, long time.  i do lots of horse training.  i use methods that come from several different trainers/clinicians and i also do some stuff that just seems to be good old common sense.  i dont do a lot of free lunging. most of my lunging excercises are done on a lead line. and let me mention this now.  i really dont see any need to attach to a side ring for lunging.  the ring underneath the chin is just fine for that.  if you are having difficulty with the halter pulling around, then just keep working until the horse softens up, gives at the head and neck and puts a little slack in the line.  if your horse isnt doing this, you need to keep working.

one lady mentioned hobbling her horse so it would stand still to mount and dismount.  not a good idea.  this is a basic control issue. gone are the days where we tie a horse's feet, blindfold them, throw on a saddle and buck them out.  you can teach your horse to stand still without hobbles.  sure, it takes time, repitition, and patience, but it is worth it and you are not relying on a piece of equipment to do what you should do. pat mentioned clinton anderson's tapes.  i went to his 3 day clinic(with my horse).  it was no doubt the best time, effort and money i have ever spent in working with my horse.  i admit that sounds like a commercial for downunder horsemanship, but i have seen and tried a lot of stuff, and his stuff makes more sense.

most of the horse problems we have, control problems, loose horse problems, panic issues, etc.  can be solved by doing lots and lots of groundwork with our horses. all too often, and i am guilty too,  we throw a saddle on them, take off, and expect them to do everything we ask.  how realistic is that?  another thing that clinton says that i really like,  if you find yourself hitting the ground too often, that is a good sign that you need to do more groundwork.          ed