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Round Penning: What Do I Do First?
Are you starting a young horse or re-training an older one? I strongly recommend making an investment of just $5.99 for my round-penning course.
- Download and print from your home computer
- 5 days, 5 chapters
- Learn at your own pace
An excerpt from Round Pen: First Steps
If it's important to always back off your pressure as soon as possible, it's doubly important that you begin each request by following a series of pre-cue, cue and finally (when called for) motivation. Pre-cues let the horse know "something's coming that requires action on his part." Cues act as a signal of what, specifically, you'd like to see happen. Motivation (applying pressure to his mouth by picking up the rein, snapping the lunge whip, etc.) back up your cued requests. Practice enough and your horse will begin to read small, unconscious signals from you and start reacting to your pre-cue. In the round pen, your body position will act as a pre-cue (picking up your lunge whip or raising your arm), kissing and changing your stance offer a cue ("move to the right," for instance) and a flick of the lunge whip applies motivation. If you're riding and you'd like the horse to trot off, you might lift your reins (pre-cue to move), kiss and drop your legs against the horse (cue to move), bring your legs away as if to kick (a secondary cue of sorts: "Hey, you missed that cue to move"), then finally you'd kick (motivation: "I'll thump if you don't move when first asked"). Constantly flicking your whip, for instance, teaches your horse that he can live through it (or it doesn't hurt like he first thought) and will have the unwanted effect of desensitizing the horse to your requests. Begin with your motivator (throwing your lariat whilst in the round pen, kicking if you're riding, etc.) and your horse would quickly decide "He throws the lariat if I stand here. He throws the lariat if I run. I might as well stand here."