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Re: last message lost-pls send again

In a message dated 5/24/99 6:19:00 PM US Mountain Standard Time, writes:

<< Maybe if I circle and head back away from
 home he'll get the idea quicker?
 I have a 2.5 yr old arab I'd like to start working, but is it too early
 to work in the round pen's a 60' one? >>


I'll start with the last question first.  Yes, it's perfectly fine to put a 
2.5 yr old in the round pen.  I would put bell boots and some kind of 
protective boot, like the Professionals Choice, on him/her.  I have some of 
the cheaper knockoff type boots just as protection from banging their legs 
against one another or railings.  Make sure the footing is good.  Neither too 
hard nor too deep.  The idea is to gain control not to run the snot out of 
them so don't be afraid of stopping too soon.  On the other hand, it is a 
myth that horses, even young horses, have short attention spans.  As long as 
you are teaching something, with lots of rewards, the horse is OK.  Be aware 
of the weather and don't overdo it.  Stopping for water breaks for both of 
you is great.  If in doubt, stop.  I've done most of my lessons at the trot 
as that is fast enough to motivate the horse to look for the correct answer 
but not just flying around at warp speed possibly hurting their legs.  If the 
horse pops into a canter for brief periods don't freak out.  I'm just saying 
most of the work should be at a nice energetic trot.  After learning the two 
kinds of turns it is OK to start letting the horse stop and rest.  Be sure to 
watch JL's tapes to learn how to teach him to turn and face you, then 
eventually come up to you.

Repetition is OK but mindless drilling isn't.  I haven't lunged my horses in 
years but will occasionally put one back in the round pen to review or 
solidify some part of their training.  Lunging is usually mindless with the 
horse on the verge of being out of control or at least not listening whereas 
lessons in the pen (without any lunge line) are to teach the horse to focus 
on you and your requests.  You don't want to use the pen to "get rid" of 
excess energy; quite the contrary, you want ALL the energy the horse has so 
you can use it to teach him.

In the last several Perfect Horse magazines, JL has been showing how to use 
round pen techniques on a foal.  You don't always need a round pen to teach 
these things and don't think that it will magically train your horse.  All 
these techniques can be adapted if you think through the logic and reasoning 
behind them.  The JL certified trainer that I go to, Jean Franzmeier, has had 
seminars on how to teach ground manners without the use of a round pen.  Many 
of the techniques are what you might teach a horse using JL round pen methods 
but with a halter and lead.

As for your first question, I don't think the horse will figure it out in 
that way.  I tried that years ago on horse that wanted to jig all the way 
home.  Teaching a cue like "give to the bit" is a conditioned response.  It 
takes hundreds and hundreds of repetitions (preferably in an arena so you can 
focus on teaching just that and not have to worry about distractions) so that 
when you give that cue on a trail ride he will "gttb" automatically (the 
response has been conditioned into his brain).  You then get to practice the 
"gttb" lesson as you are riding away from and toward home.

In his tape series "On the Trail with JL" he explains very well what to do 
with buddy-sour and barn-sour horses.  The gist of it is to ride only a short 
distance away (20 feet or so) and then circle back.  When the horse is doing 
great at that distance spiral out another 10 feet or so then back around.  
Keep this up until you are 60,70,100, 250, around the corner, etc.  The 
reasoning is that if you leave and come back just once in a ride then the 
horse only gets to practice it once.  He can leave, get excited about coming 
home and stay really nervous for a long time.  But if you get him excited 
about leaving and then come back over and over the horse finally realizes 
that it doesn't pay to get that excited over and over.  You must be 
practicing the gttb and maybe adding in speed up and slow down or practicing 
perfect circles, anything to keep his mind occupied and calm.  Soon you will 
be circling further and further from home.  Remember to keep the same focus 
on the way home.  Gttb and practicing anything you have taught him so he 
knows that "it's the same thing only different".  Don't change your cues or 
rewards or even your thoughts.  With a horse that is rushing or jigging  
toward home I feel it's better to stop your forward motion and do circles 
until you have established 100% control and the horse is working on a loose 
rein just like he was at the barn than to go further away form the barn.  You 
might only get 10-15 feet heading back before he gets excited but then you do 
as before and once under control proceed in the direction of the barn.  When 
I first started to take my gelding away from his buddy I only got to the end 
of my street (still within sight and hearing of buddy) and that is where I 
did ALL my work but I was eventually able to leave and return without a fuss 
from either of the horses.

Good luck and let me know how you do.

Melanie in AZ

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