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Taking the Edge Off

Kate Fenner - Saturday, March 23, 2013
Horse being lunged

Are you ever tempted to chase your horse around the round pen or lunge him around you before you get on just to 'get the buck out of him' or 'calm him down' a little? Perhaps you should consider these things:
  • I think horses repeat what they practice so if you are encouraging him to practice the flight instinct or run about bucking it is a behaviour that he is likely to repeat.
  • Chasing your horse will lead to him becoming fearful of you - something you clearly never want.
  • The horse can easily be injured while being chased about.
  • The unpredictability of being chased will erode your horse's confidence as he will not know what might happen next.
  • Your horse will become a little fitter and a little less under your control each time.
I am sure you can add to these for me! 

What is the horse above learning?

On the other hand, you would not want to get on a horse that you thought might buck so what could you do? I think the first thing you need to do is engage the horse's brain. You need to get his attention and ask him to think, concentrate and respond to you. If you have a round pen you might teach the horse inside and outside turns. This way you can direct his energy, get him to listen to you and respond to your cues. However be careful not to chase the horse in the round pen. If he is sweating, his respiration rate has gone up massively or he is tossing his head/swishing his tail at you then you are probably chasing him which will get him fit but have a myriad of negative consequences on his training. Teaching your horse to long-rein is a great way to educate him. You are safely on the ground (if you think he might be full of spring grass or something else), he is working in frame and building the correct muscles that he will need to carry you and you can work on something useful like transitions at the same time.

Round pen 

Inside Turns in the Round Pen

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