80 After a few minutes of this, get the horse to change direction by changing the angle at which the pressure is applied.
Step towards the front of the animal, and raise the opposite hand.
As the horse slams on the brakes, say, “Whoa”.
Before he spins and starts moving in the other direction, say, “Get-up”.
After a couple of turns around the pen, turn him again by using the same method.
Continue to „chase‟ the horse away, turning him every two or three times around.
This will continue until the horse starts to signal that he‟s ready to „join up”. Round-penning the Belgians – As old Amish farm horses, neither had ever been ridden.
After fifteen minutes in the round pen, Bill was ready for a ‘join-up’.
Five minutes later, I was in the saddle and riding, without so much as a single buck.
It took over an hour of chasing Bob around the round pen until he was ready to ‘join-up’.
Each horse is a little different.
As the trainer continues to move the horse around the ring, a subtle change will begin to happen.
First, his eyes will start to follow you, waiting for you to step to his front and say, “Whoa”.
Then, his tongue 81 will come out and he‟ll start licking his lips.
This means that he‟s thinking about what is going on.
Finally, He will come to a complete stop.
If he doesn‟t get pushed at this moment, he‟ll lower his head and start slowly walking towards the trainer.
This is the join-up; and it‟s a magical moment.
With little effort, no stress, and very little time, the horse accepts the trainer as being the dominant „horse‟.
At this moment, I like to nonchalantly reach up, pet the horse on the neck and say a few kind words.
Then I slowly walk around the horse.
He should stand still while the trainer „looks him over‟.
Then I walk back to his head and pet him again.
Near his head, I face away and say, “Get-up”, then start walking across the ring.
The horse should be following right behind, much like a dog that has been commanded to heel.
As you come to a stop, say, “Whoa” and he should stop as well.
Walk around in this fashion for a minute or two, and then end the session on a good note.
Join-up training works well for a green horse, or one that you have been working for a while.
On the green horse, it‟s the first step in his training.
Before moving on to other things, I like to go through one to three more join-up sessions.
With a horse that has been previously worked, join-up sessions are an excellent opportunity to reestablish discipline with a horse that has been „pushing it‟, and doing things like; not listening to your commands, crowding your space, or displaying some other form of behavior that‟s not submissive.
In order for it to be effective, don‟t let the horse turn-in unless he has been keeping his eye on you and has licked his lips.
If he hasn‟t done both of these things, keep chasing him around the pen.
This form of training always works; sometimes it takes four minutes, sometimes four hours.
The standard form of join-up training is used to teach obedience and respect, but there are variations used to teach other things.
Round Pen Training – Desensitizing for touch Begin this session as a normal join-up, but as the horse runs around in a circle, use a lariat to lasso him around the neck. (If you can‟t throw a 82 noose, just place it over his head).
Instead of pulling the noose tight, leave it slack.
Start the horse moving around the pen and as he gets used to the rope, start snaking it around, using your wrist to allow a coil to settle over the neck, withers or hindquarters.
As the horse grows used to each variation of the rope‟s position, add another twist.
This lets the horse get used to the feeling of things touching different portions of his body.
The value of this training will be shown the first time you try to harness or saddle the horse.
If done immediately after feeling the rope, he will be very tolerant of things like a harness being placed on his back.
Round Pen Training – With Driving Lines I also like to use a set of driving lines in the round pen.
When commands from the lines are coupled with verbal commands, it‟s very effective at teaching the fine points of driving.
Some people believed that to prevent a horse from getting a „hard mouth‟, a trainer should never start him with a bit.
Over the years I‟ve learned that it is okay to use a bit, just go easy on the lines and be careful not to overdo the amount of pressure.
To ensure you don‟t yank on his mouth too hard, learn to „feel‟ the horse‟s mouth through the lines. Ground Work, With a Lead Rope Several years before I started traveling, a young Swiss girl showed me how to use a lead rope to achieve some startling results in horse training.
This technique works really well and doesn‟t require anything but a small area of open ground.
The idea is to quickly put the horse through a series of maneuvers such as spins, backing up and forward movements.
Change from one request to the other, commanding an instant response from the horse.
For instance, for a left spin from a walk – change hands holding the lead rope from the right to the left, move quickly to the horse‟s side, then start spinning him to the left (one or two revolutions).
If you have to encourage him to spin, use some finger pressure, with the right hand pressing on his left flank.
After doing a left spin, straighten to a walk, and then go into a right spin.
I like to use finger pressure behind his left shoulder to encourage him to turn right. 83 After a couple of spins, walk him forward a couple of steps, before backing him up.
Sometimes I lean into the lead rope to get him backing up; sometimes I hold both ends of the lead rope up high and back him with a combination of voice commands and gestures with the lead rope.
Repeat this cycle three or four times.
Most of the time, a lead rope snapped to the lead ring on a halter works fine.
For difficult horses, you can use a stud chain (small chain with a snap, attached to a leather strap).
The chain is passed through a side halter ring, then either over the nose or under the chin, before snapping on to the opposite side halter ring.
The big advantage of doing this type of training is that it can be done off-the-cuff and it‟s very quick.
A five minute impromptu training session will really turn a horse around that is starting to cause problems.
When I‟m on the road, I normally have to do this with one of the horses, every few weeks.
If one of my animals starts crowding me, or not listening too well, a few minutes of ground work will really change him around. Obedience Training While Hitched Up When the whole team is being lazy, acting up, or just not listening to me, I have another trick in my bag – I give them obedience training while they‟re hitched to the wagon.
This works really well when you have a handy parking lot, or other large area to maneuver in.
Take about 15 minutes to put the team through a series of sharp turns, side-steps and backing up.
I like to practice backing into parking spaces and doing a lot of figure-8‟s.
Another good maneuver is to keep them from moving forward or backward, while side-stepping from the left to the right, and vice versa.
When I was driving a four-up on the first wagon, this was a very effective way to get all of the horse‟s tuned up and listening to what I had to say.
It was also a lot quicker and easier than trying to work with four horses, individually. 84 Desensitizing This is the process of getting a horse used to things that bother him.
Basically, the idea is to introduce the animal slowly (and in a controlled fashion) to scary things like; traffic, gunfire, bridges, llamas, and umbrellas.
What usually scares a horse is something that is new or unexpected.
There‟s an old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt.” If a horse wants to run when he sees an umbrella, the worst thing you can do is to let him.
As the „leader‟ of the horse herd, your calm voice and demeanor will help settle a frightened animal.
If I wanted to desensitize a horse to umbrellas, I would tie the animal securely, then have someone else open up an umbrella while they were standing a couple of hundred feet away.
Talk calmly to the horse while the person with the umbrella works themselves closer and closer.
If given some time, the horse will become used to the presence of the umbrella and will no longer consider it a scary thing.
He will become „desensitized‟ to them.
Caution; be careful about standing too close to the horse when introducing him to new things.
An excited animal is likely to run you over when he‟s trying to get away from something that frightens him.
Remember, horses are prey animals and are always on the lookout for something that may eat them.
Desensitizing a horse is getting a horse used to something that frightens him in a controlled fashion.
Give him enough time and he‟ll usually figure out that things aren‟t as scary as they first seemed. Summary Your team is what will make or break you when you travel down the road.
As long as they‟re in good condition, you can travel.
A Teamster is someone that cares for their team and gets the most out of them, while maintaining their health and well being. 85
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