first thing I want is to control the
horse’s direction and speed. To
control the horse’s movements,
you need to understand the
horse’s driveline. Imagine a
plumb line down from the horse’s
withers. If you look or step in front
of that vertical line, you cue the
horse to stop and/or turn around
because you are blocking his
path. If you aim your eyes or body
behind that line, you’re pushing
the horse forward. You use your
position to either drive the horse
forward or cut off his direction.
Use caution, as the round pen
can be a pressure cooker for the
horse. You have him confined, but
you’re chasing him as if he was
out in the open. That can cause a
horse to be emotional, to kick out,
to try to jump out of the pen, or to
simply feel uncomfortable until
he understands what you’re asking
for and accepts your authority. Be
careful; it’s easy get kicked or run
over in a round pen.
Waving the Flag
Any time you’re in the round pen,
make sure to have a flag or stick
with you to help enhance your cues
and defend your space. If you’re
working a horse in the round pen,
it’s probably because you need to
get his attention and establish that
you are in charge. The flag will help
you get your horse’s attention,
and if he disagrees with your
leadership, it’s possible he could
charge you; make sure you have a
tool to defend your space if needed.
I like a flag so that I can wave
it and I have a way to signal the
horse visually without touching
him. If the horse were to become
aggressive, having the attached
stick helps me defend my space.
You can’t predict how a horse will
react when he is learning to follow
your round pen cues. Kicking
and charging are normal horse
behaviors and you need to be
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