Saturday, May 15, 2010

In the round pen

My favorite place to be with my horse is the round pen.

So with the new information I had from the clinic, I was anxious to work on a signal for a walk.

There are a million instructional videos on how to round pen. I even did a video of a round pen session with Canyon here:

I think there's one brief spot where he actually walks, but other than that, it's all trot and canter.

Signaling for a walk is more complicated than I thought. Too much arm or wrong shoulder and you get a turn. A trot seems to be a place of zoning out for a horse. Like Kathleen said, a horse can trot forever. Control at the walk also means keeping your horse's focus when it is readily distracted. At a walk I found it harder to keep Cibolo's attention.

I began to wonder if "mastering the walk" meant having a connection to your horse when its easiest for the horse to be distracted. At the walk, the horse's mind can much more easily wander. So can yours. The horse has to choose to listen, concentrate harder to focus. It's harder for you too.

It's like when you are working on something tedious, like cross stitch, and you have to discipline yourself to count and take care of each stitch. You can't make big leaps, you have to simply count, and do the simple thing right. Not just right, perfect. So you can't tell the back from the front, done so well there's not a single knot in the entire piece.

Slowly we found the line of energy together, that invisible connection I feel in the round pen with my horse, at the walk and it grew stronger and stronger. Three times around at the walk and then an inside turn. Three times around the other way.

The next challenge was coming back down into the walk from a trot. Again it was difficult to get the signal just right, to find the perfect connection. But in time we had it. The downward transition.

Then, things got freaky. I decided to try to see how subtle I could get. And by the end Cibolo was responding to changes in my energy, tiny changes in my posture.

And together, we found it.


Cactus Jack Splash said...


Fantastyk Voyager said...

That sounds so positive! Good for you and Cibolo. I think you are mastering the art of whispering to horses.

AareneX said...

I find that trotting can put me (and my horse) into the same mind-frame as driving a long distance...that sort of zen state, where you remember getting into the car in Seattle and then suddenly you're in Butte and don't remember anything about the state of Idaho.

I think you're onto something!

Anonymous said...

Very cool!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

You've come along way Babe.

It's interesting to me how some horses are just amazing in the safety and confines of a round pen or arena, but once on the trail, they are an unpredictable mess.

I watched your video....again. I remember it when you posted it the first time. I had such hopes back then for you and Canyon. You seemed to be so together and connected, alot like my mare Baby Doll and I probably.

In the little circle of round pen or arena she was easy and focused....out in the real world....not so much.

Good luck!


Gail said...

You and your horse are amazing.

jacksonsgrrl said...

Winter, that is so great! Jackson, too, was a speed demon in the round pen, and the day we got walk was fabulous! The thing with work in the round pen or on the lunge line is there are so many schools of thought. For instance, Jackson has been trained to turn in towards you when asked to halt. Not sure I like that. Oh. I should add, WHEN he halts. When are you coming to give ME a round pen lesson? I am ground work deficient, mostly b/c I get frustrated which sets up the loop of said frustration...Horse senses my frustration and only gets worse, and I have no idea what I'm doing wrong (or right!) in our problem areas!! So I avoid it. BAD MINDY.

The Wildwood said...

Very are cute together!

Rising Rainbow said...

Sounds like you guys are figuring each other out. That's great.

Jocelyn said...

I love the round pen too, that is where we get some really great bonding work done!

Shirley said...

You and your horse had a "moment of grace", keep up the good work.