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Trainer Q&A - Ground Work (with/without Round Pen) - How do I teach my horse to make use of the entire roundpen during longeing?

How do I teach my horse to make use of the entire roundpen during longeing?

Grace Asks:

Hi Christy:

So glad that you are here to help us!

For the past several months, while I am working my filly in the round pen, she moves nicely along 1/2 of the pen, however, when she reaches half way around, she cuts across the center. When she cuts through the center, she is usually heading for the side of the round pen that has woods that begin about 10 ft away from the round pen wall. Previously she moved nicely all the way around the round pen with no problem.

I don't have a problem with getting her to move her feet, turn to the inside, or to the outside. We just end up doing everything in half the space.

I am trying to figure out if she is being spoiled, lazy, and/or disrespectful or if she has some honest fear of the woods that I need to work her through.

How can I tell the difference?

Would the approach to training change depending on the cause of the problem?

How should I proceed?

Thank you


Our Trainer Answers:

If your horse is cutting across your round pen during longeing, this is nearly always a respect issue.

When you send your horse out on the circle during longeing you need to make full use of your round pen. Until your horse understands that he is to follow along the rail, do not teach him any more manuevers. To accomplish this is simple. Stand in the exact center of your pen, with your longe line in one hand and your whip in the other (which one is in which hand depends on the direction your horse is going). When your horse begins to 'dive' into your circle, smack him firmly with your whip, and drive him back to the rail. When he stays on the rail, leave him alone. Let him get good at this before you ask him to come to the center. Send him out again. When he 'dives' in, smack him again, if he stays on the rail leave him alone. Let him go around 5 or 6 laps each time. Repeat this exercise until you have a horse that respectfully stays out on the circle until you ask him to come in.

Thank you and happy trails!