Link Image Marv Walker Index Page

Avoiding Mental And Physical Problems
When Working Young Horses

She writes...

hi marv

read the bonder, hey i have a 14 mo old who a prior trainer a few mo ago attempted the "lyons" join up thing.

i have a 60 ft round pen , from your lesson i am getting a., that she is too young, which we havent done any round pen work since. lessons in the barn are she can be tied, she lets be touch her everywhere, i pick up her feet she can lead w a halter and rope.

should i be trying this a little or wait. actually in june when we did a little, she would run through when i would try to change her direction. how do i make her stop when i am ready to do this? the trainer could get her to change her direction,, i however, couldn't., she would run around in the same direction. thoughts suggestions on what else i should be doing at this point.?

i do not want to rush her, she is fabulous, has a great disposition. after the 3-4 round pen exercises we did do she developed a few splints, (i know she was too young) she was not lame, so i haven't made her run since. she is very receptive and gentle otherwise

Lyons doesn't have a "join up" thing. Join-up is a Monty Roberts term. While on the surface their methods appear the same they aren't. In my opinion, Lyons' round penning seeks to get to the horse's mind through the body. He likes to get a "little sting in the lungs" to get the horse seeking the responses Lyons wants. Roberts seeks to get to the horse's mind through a structured stylized herd dynamics sequence. Using a herd dynamic sequence is much less physically demanding on the horse. There is a general tendency to call all work done in a round pen round penning. They are both round penning techniques. However each proponent may have somewhat different motives and procedures. Two round pen techniques viewed on the surface may appear to be identical yet be very different when closely examined. Lyons and Roberts are the classic examples of this. Their actions inside the round pen are as different as night and day.

I am ABSOLUTELY against working young horses under the age of, oh, say, about three, and if you push me I'd say, five. Notice I didn't say a word about TRAINING young horses, I said working them. By working them I mean anything that places strain or exerts force on ANY part of the body. I am pretty much against putting horses under saddle much before they're well into their fourth year.

Link Image TheWildFlowerRanch

Am I alone in this thought?

Sometimes it seems like it because I hear a lot of poohing going on whenever I suggest it followed by a stream of justification such as, "if they aren't under saddle young it's too late," "that's the way my daddy (neighbor down the road, everybody) did it," "it hasn't caused my 3 year old a problem," "all the famous trainers do it," etc.

Back when horses traditionally only lived a few years and twelve was an old horse, folks depended on horses for their productivity it was crucial to get them started as early as possible. If they broke down or didn't work out there was usually a mink ranch waiting. People couldn't afford to keep a horse who wasn't productive. Vet care was practically nonexistent for horses and what was available was usually the "arsenic will shine him up a bunch" or "he got the worms, feed 'im his tail" type of stuff.

Using just the last decade as our scale, we have come light years in the understanding of the horse in the area of health care. Every bone, muscle, nerve and organ of the horse has been studied in depth. As a result we now have the ability to keep horses blooming three-four times past what they were able to do in my grandfather's time.

Back then horses died before most problems had a chance to become disabling. Now, these problems are showing up relatively early in a horse's potentially long life.

In the above email we see a couple of things...

One is splints.

When a horse is "run" around a round pen there are a couple of forces that act on it,

One is centrifugal force. Centrifugal force is what happens when inertia tries to keep a moving body traveling in a straight line. The faster an object travels the more difficult it is to influence its direction. A horse running (momentum) in a circle must continually overcome the tendency to continue in a straight line (inertia). The faster the travel the greater the inertia or energy to needed by the horse to change direction.

Now then the horse is anchored to the ground by its feet at the end of its legs. All that force is directed through the horse's legs. It is one thing to put an occasional load on the legs, it is another to put a continual load on them. When we run a young, physically immature horse around the round pen (or longe line or hot walker) we tax the elastic unfused (unhardened) ligaments which can then pop a splint.

Now we've come full circle to working young horses...

Have you ever heard someone say, "it's knees are closed, it's ready to start riding?" Well this closing they are talking about is the "fusing" or hardening of the splint ligaments to bone. There are other "growth plate" areas in the horse that need closing as well. Dr. Deb Bennett is probably the best known authority on the subject of skeletal maturation in horses. To read her related comments on Ranger, a horse I personally knew, check out her "Knowledge Base" on her site - click here.

Now then, can you round pen a young horse for connection purposes - to establish a leader follower relationship with minimal, if any, risk of injury?

Yes. As long as you keep everything low keyed and slow.

How do you keep everything low keyed and slow? By stopping the horse from going around mindlessly.

Let's say for a moment that the horse starts going around the enclosure faster than you want it to. The SECOND that you decide to stop it go to where it was the moment you decided to stop it. Your goal is to be waiting there when the horse comes around again determined to keep the horse away from you. You are essentially claiming a wedge or section of the pen for your own and telling the horse, "This is mine!! Come into it and suffer the consequences!!" This is exactly what a lead horse does within the herd and all horses understand this.

Do what you have to do to keep the horse out of your wedge. It will stop and go back the other way.Stay where you are and meet it when it comes back with the same action. Occupy and defend your space and the horse will soon stop its circling and stop as far away from you as it can which is usually the other side of the enclosure.

Once the horse is stopped you can then go to the center and begin directing it again. If it begins moving faster than you want again, repeat the stopping procedure. When you have a horse who mindlessly circles and you stop the circling you develop stopping skills. This enhances your control of the horse.

The "Bonder" the writer is talking about is the herd dynamics procedure that I use to establish a leader / follower relationship with every horse I work with. It consists of giving the horse a series of directions I know beyond a shadow of doubt I can get the horse to obey until it basically says, "This being is giving me directions and I'm obeying them. Therefore, this being must be a leader and I must be a follower." Since we are discussing young horses here we are covering the importance of doing everything slow and easy.

To email for a free copy of the bonder Click Here. I'll send you an email containing the URL of the procedure. I cover working young horses in the round pen in detail in my young horse video. Mentally Connecting With The Immature Horse

You say the trainer was able to get her direction changed, you weren't. Chances are very good he was convincing her her life was in danger if she came into his spot and you aren't. Leave room for her to get by you ***IF*** she comes through your defense but tell yourself, "I ***WILL*** keep her out of my space until *I* decide otherwise. You are the leader, you are the owner.

Being determined and low keyed will soon have you inside her head. Then what you want to do is accustom her to everyday handling, very basic ground work - ground driving, giving to pressure - careful longeing, etc.

Click here to check out my very reasonably priced DVD inventory covering many of the subjects featured on my site's pages in greater depth.

Back To Top

For Further Information Contact Marv Walker 706 816-7190 Evenings 9 to 12 PM
Questions, comments or suggestions
Back to Marv Walker's Index Page

vBulletin statistics