Round Pen Question

This is my first post and hopefully it’s Ok in this category! It’s not hunter/jumper related other than the fact that’s how I ride…

Anyway, for the past 5 weeks I’ve begun working my horse in the roundpen (he is not green under saddle by any means). Prior to this I never did; it’s just not something I had experience in. Everything has been going great until an interesting development. Yesterday, after very politely and responsively going each way at the walk, trot and canter (just for a few minutes to warm up), I asked him to stop so I could attach side reins. After this, I had a very difficult time getting him back on the rail; he wanted to be close to me and to follow me. Eventually we succeeded and worked all three gaits each way again. But the next time I asked him to change direction (and at this point, we were nearly done; I wanted to work on halting), he stopped and faced me and again, and I had a very difficult time getting him moving on the rail again. I backed him up, lead him to the rail, pointed him the direction I wanted him to go, and as soon as I’d step away he would follow me. He’d look at me with a very soft eye, chewing lightly at the bit. I just could not for the life of me get him to leave my side. (which, if it wasn’t frustrating, would be cute).

I’d love some advice on what to do if this happens again. My thoughts were to either continuing to make him back up until he decides going forward on the rail is easier, or work him for a shorter time and (hopefully) end before this happens again (we were nearly done anyway, maybe I just reached his limit at this stage in training).

Thanks in advance!

He’s hooking on to you, which is a good thing and what you want. But you should still be able to move him…you just need to do it correctly, which it sounds like you are not doing. I would look for a video on round pen work. This seems like a decent article:

You may have to re-establish that you can make the horse go as it sounds like he’s overly hooked on. There needs to be a balance…

That’s what I was thinking too; I didn’t want to punish him; I just wasn’t sure how to make him go. I’ll check out the article, thanks!

Are you free lunging or doing join up/hooking on? There is a difference in the way he will stop. To get the horse to hook on, you must give him the cue to turn in otherwise he shouldn’t. If you are free lunging he should stop straight as if he was on a lunge line. If he doesn’t stop straight, make him go again, in the same direction. Keep doing walk, halt, walk, halt until he stops straightER. He doesn’t need to be perfect since he’s never done it before as long as he improves every time.

For the coming into the circle I give a voice command “get out” and use the whip towards the shoulder if needed. He should always be as far away as possible, on the rail in the round pen and at the end of the line while lunging.

Sounds like he doesn’t know what you want yet.

Coming in to you is not a bad behavior.

Assuming you have some sort of stick and string, I would direct it at his shoulder, and swing it underhand. If he so much as looks away from you, I would say, “Good boy!” and go to him and scratch him.

Then just build on that.

I am very liberal with my scratching. It’s how my horse knows when he’s cracking the code.

Be sure you’re not asking for too much at one time.

ETA: You might get more help with this topic on the western forum. This group is not real open to NH techniques. :slight_smile:

He’s broke… get on. He clearly thinks the exercise is pointless and is telling you so.

I don’t know beans about H/J being new to the sport but I have done a lot of round pen work and bit lunging in my previous life.

If you ask your horse to stop and he comes in to you, that is good. He is joining up with you, looking to bond, so great. I give them a cuddle, switch the reins around and send them back out. When you stop him after the other way, let him come in again, it builds trust which can only be a good thing when you want to jump.

The trick is to not let it turn into ‘quit’ and what you can do is add another cue which means’stay out on the rail’ until you release him and let him come into you for a scratch.

I just use what would be my lunge line hand if I had a line and use it to ‘haze’ the head towards the wall of the pen , like you are pushing the head back out. It works best if he is moving forward faster than a walk at first when you are teaching the cue, what you will find is that when you ‘push’ the head he will fade out towards the rail and if you drop your hand and pull that shoulder back he will drop in towards you. Over time they get really responsive to your body position and gestures and you can do all kinds of refining exercises like lifting the inside shoulder and stuff.

When he comes in and won’t go out, use the hand up by his head to haze him out while you push his shoulder with your other hand or the butt of your whip . I cluck for ‘move your feet’ and if he doesn’t step smartly just tap him with the whip until he does.

What is great is when you finally release him from the rail and he comes trucking right up to you , ready to ride- that is a wonderful feeling.