I am having trouble round penning my horse, Bolero. I feel safer when he’s on the lead-line in the round pen, but I can’t get him to go without the stick. I kept the sessions very positive and just made him stop and back up like you said to do. He does that very well.
But, if I take the the halter and lead-line off, he strikes out. I think he thinks it’s time to get crazy. I have to say that that is when I get scared. It’s so funny because Bolero is the horse that I have such a great relationship with but in the round pen, I can’t trust him. I feel bad because of what’s happened in the past with other trainers but he has just always been so difficult to round pen .
Suzanne G. From Prescott, Arizona
Don’t try to round pen him without the lead line off yet. I am glad that you keep the sessions positive and short, which is great! You also need to make them fun.
First he should not be having a problem with the stick because you should not really be using it.
You have to do the opposite of what he thinks you are going to do. That means that when he is stopped you should not be pushing him forward, so you should not be using your stick. In fact next time go into the round pen with him on the line and no stick, I want you to see how you can get him to move forward because he wants to not because you have a stick, does that make sense, it is not about the stick or the round pen, it is how motivated he is to move for you.
I want you to try this: Take your two barrels to the round pen and put them on the fence line one on one side of the round pen and one on the other so that he has to make a half circle to get to the other barrel. Put a treat on top of the 2 barrels. Send him in a circle and ask him to stop at the barrel, then he will find his treat. Then send him to his next barrel and he will find his treat. Then bring him back to you and have him rest with you. Then go and put more treats on your barrels. After you do this for a while ask him to trot to his next barrel.
What he needs is he needs a reason for round penning. He does not understand your reason of trying to get him in shape, he just sees it as hard and boring work. He needs a reason and he needs to be motivated to move. Remember when I was there I said that I know what to do because I have a horse that is worse them him. This is how I have made that horse love and want to trot and canter for me.
But remember that all this training is not about the training, it is about your relationship with your horses. Don’t run round penning into the ground. That is what has happened in the past with other trainers and now round penning is the word that he hates the most.
Thanks for the question,