I've been working with my young horse in the round pen, under saddle. How do I know when my young horse is ready to transition to an arena, to the great wide open, or go near the woods? Thanks
It is easy to get bored when you are working in the round pen, however, before you take your green horse out into the Great Wide Open there are a few tests he needs to pass. Make sure your horse has a really good "Whoa", by this I mean that each and every time you ask him to stop he does so without trying to push through the bit, or toss his head up. You need to have practiced a one-rein stop, by flexing his head to the side and holding him until he not only stops, but also relaxes. The one-rein stop needs to be practiced on both sides.
Make sure he is light in the bridle and understands how to turn right, left and back up a few steps for you. He needs to always stand patiently for mounting and dismounting. Also, he needs to stand patiently for as long as you wish when you are mounted. Now, he should be safe and understand your wishes outside of the round pen.
Before I take my horses down the trail I like to pasture ride them for a few days. This way I can get to know them better and have a better idea of how they will deal with things out on the trail. We live on the hi-way, so this gives me a safe way to teach them how to deal with traffic, while staying inside the pasture. Also, we have a small area of woods with trails and wildlife. We also have open spaces to trot and lope safely while inside the perimeter of a fence.
I very rarely ask a green horse to do anything outside of the round pen that I have not taught him inside the pen. The reason for this is that is safer for both me and the horse. Therefore, before I will trot him out, I know he will not get to excited if he understands the lesson in the pen. Before I will lope him out, I have done it in the pen and am confident that he will not want to run away and will slow down or stop when I ask him to.
Riding with a savvy friend is also a wonderful idea. Horses will gain more confidence when riding out away from the barn if they have the company of a confident equine friend.
Thank You and Happy Trails,