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Old 02-06-2006, 10:04 PM  
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Switching directions in round pen

I have heard before that it is bad for a horse to turn away into the fence (when switching directions) from you when free lungeing in a round pen. What is everyones opinion on this?? Is this something that should be corrected?
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Old 02-06-2006, 10:14 PM  
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Thats the way I do it all the time.
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Old 02-06-2006, 10:22 PM  
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Well it's not a BAD thing persay but turning towards you is MUCH better for your training. Here are some points as to why you should NOT let your horse reverse into the fence:

#1 - As the horse turns into the fence they are facing their hindquarters to you which in their language he is getting away with being more dominant than you because a lead mare would never tolerate a lower horse to turn their butt to her.

#2 - When a horse reverses into the fence you stop forward mementum which is the key focus of ALL training because even lateral work must have "forward" movement.

#3 - Turning into the fence creates stiffness in the body of the horse as he tries to get away from the fence to turn...it also drops his inside shoulder (the inside he's reversing to) and can cause balance issues.

#4 - Generally in training you want the horse to face you to acknowledge your presence and take direction...if he's turning to the fence he can't acknowledge you or take direction because he loses sight of you.

Now...here are upsides to having your horse turn and reverse towards you.

#1 - He sees you at all times and can acknowledge your presense, direction, and authority.

#2 - Because he's using the fence to stop his hind end from escaping (backing up) you maintain forward motion.

#3 - His body stays relaxed and supple during the reverse and his shoulder is up and engaged at least the first few strides after he exits his reverse (which with time he will learn to keep his shoulders up at all times).

HOPE THAT EXPLAINS IT!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 02-06-2006, 10:30 PM  
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Renae, Can you explain in a step by step way, how to get the horse to turn towards you rather than away from you. Thanks.
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Old 02-06-2006, 10:46 PM  
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This is a little more complicated and can be a long process if your horse has always turned away from you. What you want to start doing if you horse has been turning into the fence for a long time is put a lunge line back on. That way he/she can't turn away from you. Get a chain if necessary. Now...start your lunging...and first you'll want to start at the walk or possibly the halt. Start pulling his head into you slightly...now change the whip into the other hand like you are asking for the reverse and step BACK away from the horse...it is VERY important you step BACK and towards their nose in one big step...this movement invites your horse to come closer or turn into you and the movement into their flight zone should help push them back around to reverse. The lungeline is there if you need to remind them with physical pressure. Lunging is ALL about body language...advanced horses should need no lunge line, no whip, and no voice from you...ALL body movement. So basically you are going to switch your whip, step BACK and towards the front of the horse...when he starts to reverse the correct way and you see his shoulder stop back towards him to push him forward and back to the rail. When he's doing this without help from your lungeline then you may remove it again and go back to free lunging. Watch your horse...when he looks like he's turning his head slightly to look at you that is the PERFECT time to ask for a reverse because he's thinking of coming to the center anyways and will more than likely not reverse into the rail unless your body language confuses him.

OK...so if you are REALLY confused by all that I can try and explain it better...Wish you lived closer, I'd just come out and show you!!
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Old 02-06-2006, 11:38 PM  
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Thanks Renae. I thougth that is how you do it. I have done this a little bit on the lunge line with one of my horses that I am training and was very successful one way, but the other way she showed no respect and I had to really get after her. She did do it in the end each time I did it, but I found it rather intimidating. Consequently, I went back to the free lunging with her turning away from me. I guess I should perservere as she is a quick learner and if I did this more consistently, we could get through this. Unfortunately, at the moment, I will have to wait for better weather. I am hoping to take her to the barn where I have my Morgan for riding throughout the winter, at the beginning of March. I was supposed to be riding her this winter but she somehow got a stress fracture of her carpal bone and had to go on 8 weeks rest, then when I put her in with the horses again after being given the O.K. as the ground was so wet and horrible, while running around with the herd, she must have pulled a muscle or something in the other leg and I had to put her back on isolated rest. She has been back with them for a number of weeks now and appears to be O.K. I think she just wants to be a pasture ornament!! Thanks for the info.
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Old 02-06-2006, 11:39 PM  
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Renea! You did a great job explaining that! Thanks!

Now what would you do if you didn't want to use a lunge line or is there much you can do?? I have a yearling and have been stuck on not using a lunge line. I think I will give it a try a couple times to give her some help understanding the turn. She turns into the rail only going one direction. I don't want this to become a habbit. I bothers me exactly like you were saying about them not being correct into their gate after turning to the outside!! I don't want her uneven or one sided. And I feel like we have lost our connection. she is great otherwise! she stops and goes when I ask, so this is the next step I am hoping for.

I have practiced with her walking small circles around me with just a halter and leadrope, so she is use to those pressures. I think it will be fine to introduce the lunge line. baby steps, baby steps.....

my last yearling I had was 14 yrs ago....her mother!

any one else had any ideas??
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Old 02-07-2006, 08:57 PM  
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O.K. Today, I tried free lunging my seasoned Morgan in the round pen asking him to turn in towards me to change directions. This was very unsuccessful. I tried my hardest to use correct body language but obviously, I was way off. He stood there as if to say, "What the H.......l are you trying to get me to do. The turning towards the fence line still worked fine. I did this a couple of times to make sure he was listening to me and he was. Just confused.

So, I take him out of the round pen and try on the lunge line. Worked pretty good on one side, but the other side, total mess. Now, I had his bridle on him and I truly think that this may have been the problem, as I clipped the lunge line under his chin from one side of his bit to the side I started on. Of course when I wanted him to change directions, I was probably giving him the wrong message with the bit. I am going to try next time with my Parelli !!! rope halter and see if this is more affective or even my regular halter.

I need to process the free lunging in my mind some more before attempting to do that again as I don't want to frustrate or confuse my horse.
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Old 02-07-2006, 09:56 PM  
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Annem.... You can buy a lungeing strap that is in the shape of a "Y" and attaches to the bit. This is such a time saver! you know, when you are going to ride and then decide "oh, i'm going to lunge first". You can just put on the lungeing strap. makes is so easy. and they are under $5!

and yes...I have run into a mess before trying to lunge with a bridle and without using a lungeing strap. most of the time, if you are trying to change something pertaining to ground work... I find it more effective if you get rid of any variables (i.e... saddle, reins, bridle, ect...). just you, yourhorse, roundpen, and lunge whip. And I think the "parelli" or rope halter and lunge line, would also be fine.

I'm going out to the barn tomorrow, so I'll post how it goes....
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:05 PM  
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Thanks Laceycowgrl. I'll have to look for one of those when I next go to the tack store. Probably tomorrow if I get time as I have to buy wormer.
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Old 02-08-2006, 10:02 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laceycowgrl
Now what would you do if you didn't want to use a lunge line or is there much you can do?? I have a yearling and have been stuck on not using a lunge line. I think I will give it a try a couple times to give her some help understanding the turn. She turns into the rail only going one direction. I don't want this to become a habbit. I bothers me exactly like you were saying about them not being correct into their gate after turning to the outside!! I don't want her uneven or one sided. And I feel like we have lost our connection. she is great otherwise! she stops and goes when I ask, so this is the next step I am hoping for.
What Clinton Anderson suggests is that when you go to reverse the horse's direction and they turn into the fence, you IMMEDIATELY turn them around to go the other way again. After a few more laps going the original direction, try to turn them again. Once again, if they turn into the fence, turn them around to go the original direction. If they do turn in towards you, then let them continue in the direction you turned them to. (Am I making sense?)

One thing you want to make sure of is that you are not trying to reverse them too soon in the roundpenning session, and that you are not coming at them too aggressively when asking for the turn.

TXCowgrl82 could probably explain it better than I have.
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Old 02-08-2006, 09:52 PM  
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Thanks orchid! I always forget about clinton, he has such good ideas! I just don't want to try the lunge line yet. too many variables for a young mind!

Thanks for you help!
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Old 02-09-2006, 07:15 PM  
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I'm here! And my opinion is a little different from Renae's. I always start with them turning away from me. In the wild the boss mare will make another horse run away from her to establish dominance or punish. The other horse is not allowed to come towards the boss mare until he has shown adequate submission.

Another thing about turning towards/away in general. Yes, when a horse turns away, they can kick. But when they turn towards they can bite or strike. Biting/striking is a much more aggressive action. Here's why. A horse's natural reaction is to run away from something that scares them because they are submissive. Usually, kicking out is just their way of trying to protect themselves. When a horse makes the choice to turn in and attack with biting/striking, that is aggression.

When asking for the inside turn, I do it similiar to how Renae explained. But I don't usually use a longeline except in extreme cases and I never use a chain. But that's just me. The biggest thing to remember is to back straight up (not curving around, a common mistake) and also you must make your body relaxed and non-aggressive. If your body is too dominant or aggressive the horse may not feel it is safe to turn towards you. Also, back up slowly. I've found that many horses, if you start moving too quickly, even if they are doing what you want, they don't understand what you're asking and later on you can run into other problems.

So basically I start with outside turns, then when they properly understand, add inside turns. When they understand inside turning then I alternate. I want my horses to move where and how I tell them too.
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Old 02-09-2006, 08:11 PM  
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Thanks for the info TCG82. I think that is maybe where I went wrong. I think I may have gone back a little too quickly and possibly not straight. I will have to make a concerted effort to slow down and keep straight.

Once you have slowed down straight back, if they turn to you, do you then move forward towards their shoulder to keep them going in the opposite direction?

I found with my Morgan, he doesn't seem to look towards me much, he tends to keep his face straight ahead even though he goes through all the motions. A bit slow in the stopping but I have to admit I haven't done alot of round pen work with him. It is normally the younger horses that I do this with but thought it would be better to try and master the turning on my more seasoned horse. He turns out fine, I want to learn how to turn him towards me then in the opposite direction. Thanks for any help you can give me.
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Old 02-09-2006, 09:39 PM  
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Yes, thats exactly right Annem.
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Old 02-10-2006, 09:21 AM  
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TXCowgrl82 - I do use the way you explained for the exact same reason you stated...as a punishment or to grab the attention of an unruly colt or a gawky colt. Unless you are trying to punish your horse you shouldn't turn them into the rail. As you said...the boss mare chases off a horse she feels needs the punishment and only when she feels he's been punished enought does she then let them face her. You don't want to continually be telling your horse to "get away from me...RUN" when you are training. As soon as your point is made the reward is to turn and face you and become relaxed and soft in the body. Also...I train for very large level shows and the collection and movement desired requires the training and conditioning that turning IN gives a horse. Having my colts turn into the rail would back-track my training and get my colts no where close to where I need them to be in collection and body relaxation. So for me...turning into the rail is not a suitable option and for anyone that wants to show competitively turning into the rail doesn't more bad than good (unless you are using it to get the attention of a looky-lu or are trying to punish a colt who's asserting his dominancy too aggressively).
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Old 02-10-2006, 09:26 PM  
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OK...This is such a great discussion and I really appreciate everyones input! Its is helping me soooooo very much!

So here is my road block.... She turns one direction into me fine, but the other direction is a different story. I ask for a turn the same on the other side, and she just stops. Sometimes I can get a turn, and sometimes she just stops then keeps going the same direction.

What should I do?? I have ideas, but want to know what everyone else does? I even worked my seasoned horse with turns, which she picked up the inside turn concept very well!! YAY! So, I don't think I'm sending mixed messages??
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Old 02-11-2006, 01:05 AM  
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LaceyCowgrl...just keep asking for it...it does sound thought like you may be pressuring her (too close - not backing up far enough away) for her to make her turn in that direction. Horses always have a more comfortable side they want you to be on and so you may need to just give her more space and if that means being on the opposite side of the round pen then go for it...when she's more comfortable you can stay closer. With my advanced show horses I don't move but more than a few inches and switch my whip hand and they plant their behinds, spin, and float off in the other direction...it will come in time just be patient and persistent!!!
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Old 02-11-2006, 10:37 AM  
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90% of my training is starting green horses and restarting problem horses, so the outside turn is very important to me. Also, I figured since most of the people on this forum are trying to train their own horses, it would be good for them to understand why/how to turn both directions. What works for one, doesn't always work for another.

Annem, don't listen to my mom. Once the horse is turned and faced towards you, you need to step sideways (whichever direction that may be for you to be on the other side of the horse) one or two steps so that the other shoulder is in front of you, then step back into the shoulder.

Laceycowgrl, I've found that most horses have a "weak" side. Another way to put it is they are "left" or "right" handed. They feel more vulnerable on the "weak" side and don't want to place you on that side because it makes them more uncomfortable. What you need to do is ask for the inside turn, give the opportunity to turn, when they don't, send them off at a faster pace (lope or fast lope) in the direction they had been going for about 1-1 1/2 rotations, then ask again. Repeat as needed. Once they turn around, take the pressure off (allow to trot) and let them relax some. The big thing is to make sure it's work (at least initially) for you to be on their "strong" side, and easier on their "weak" side.
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Old 02-13-2006, 12:38 AM  
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WHOO HOO! YAY! we have mastered inside turns today! She was much more attentive, relaxed a the poll, and smooth gaited! No running around like a crazy baby!

This is what worked for us today. I would ask for a stop and then take a step backwards. At first she would stop and immediately face her butt towards me. Then I would step backwards again and just stand there, (I could see the horse brain wheels thinking "what is this lady doing") she would then start to turn towards me. I then stepped into the opposite shoulder and asked for her to switch directions. After a few times asking this way, she would then stop without facing her booty towards me and turn her face into me, and then into the turn.

Annem- YES! Thanks, I was pressuring her too much! I wish I could get my sister into learning how to round pen. I would be nice to have someone there to tell me what I'm doing wrong.

TxCowgrl- I'm glad you brought that up about the one sided issue. It was exactly like what you said, she didn't want to turn around so I would be on her right side. I did some ground excersies focusing on the right side for about 5 minutes before we worked in the round pen. It helped a lot!

I have had horses since the day I was born, worked with numerous world class trainers, and always have had experienced horse people around me. NOT ONE TIME has someone showed me how to work a horse in the round pen. I was only ever taught how to lunge a horse to warm up before a show. I wish that more trainers would take the time to show their students the fundamentals of ground work and round penning.

Where did everyone learn this??
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