Monday, November 28, 2011


Today was pretty rainy so all I did was just go to the stableyard at lunchtime and hang out in Starbuck's new house for a little while.  I think it's so so so important to spend "non-productive" time where you just rub or scratch your horse, take her out to graze or maybe just kind of spend time near each other; in the end it actually ends up being very productive since when you come to her paddock she doesn't automatically associate it with working.  I checked her back and legs to make sure she wasn't sore or had any hotspots after yesterday's ride, took her over to Coco's paddock for some playtime while I topped off her bed with fresh hay and finally just sat on my trunk chilling out with her.  

What a great way to disconnect from the office!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our First Ride!

After the outstanding weekend that Starbuck has given me with amazing concentration, focus and progress on Friday, Saturday and today, I felt pretty confident about at least getting into the saddle for the first time.  So after a fairly strenuous workout of leading, longeing, yielding hindquarters and forequarters and sending work, I took her into the round pen and just let her rest while I did some preparation work; standing on a mounting block and rubbing her, tapping the saddle, putting a little weight in the stirrup, rubbing her belly with the tip of my toe and finally standing up and half mounting which is what you see here..
Afterward my friend Salvador helped me get Starbuck used to my weight (sorry girl, but this is Thanksgiving weekend after all) in movement by leading her around the roundpen with me just kind of half mounted like this and resting my belly over the saddle and she did great, no bucks or bunny hops or even any insecurity, she just took it completely in stride.  So I asked Marina, the owner of the stable, to help us out with our first ride and this is the result!  She's a little wobbly and you can tell we still need to work on finding our balance (I'm leaning forward to try to take some of the weight off her back), but I'm soooooo proud of her (and of me!) for being able to be completely relaxed and confident in movement with me sitting on top of her.
The other big change this weekend was that we moved Starbuck to new digs with a nice shed to keep her warm and dry this winter, so after our ride I made sure she had an extra big serving of bran mash, three freshly scrubbed out buckets of cool water and a bed of hay about 3 feet deep inside her little shed; she deserves some luxury after being such a good girl today!  Here's a fuzzy photo of her enjoying her new home:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Approach and Retreat

A few days ago I got ahold of Clinton Anderson's Starting Under Saddle DVD series and I've been checking it out.  This guy drives me crazy trying to sell stuff every 30 minutes and he's got the same cheesy catchphrase charisma that Pat Parelli does, but he sure is good at getting his ideas across and teaches useful solution for common training problems.  Yesterday I already taught Starbuck one of his sending exercizes, where the trainer stands to the side of the horse and gets them to move forward back and forth between the trainer and a fence.  I think that in combination with the other nuggets of information these DVDs are going to be really useful!

One of the things that this guy preaches along with nearly all the other bastians of Natural Horsemanship is the "Approach and Retreat" method.  Basically, you move forward with your training until you get the response you want (either for the horse to stand still and do nothing for desensistizing exercizes or for them to move some body part for sensitizing exercizes).  So if your horse is afraid of the flyspray, you just keep spraying at them until they stand still and then take it away.  Of if your horse won't move off when you tell them to, you just increase the pressure and consistently cue them to move until they do, then instantly stop whatever you were doing to "convince" them.

Sound familiar?  That's right, it's the old "the release is the reward" concept.  But what really came home to me with his method is that concept can be used even for lesson planning.  In other words, you get your horse to move her feet, then reward her by letting her stand still, then you reward her for standing still by letting her move her feet, and so on.  So before and after each and every sensitizing (get the horse to move) exercize, he adds a desensitizing exercize.  And I'm not talking about just giving your horse a quick rubdown with the longe whip, I'm talking about 5 - 15 minutes of sacking out with different stuff after every "workout".

I tried this yesterday in a loooooooooooooooooooong training session with Starbuck and it went great!  She usually gets a little burned out after about an hour of training, even when I switch it up a lot and do different stuff.  But before I was just paying attention to her mental and physical state and making sure she didn't get too tired or bored and actually was making the mistake of quitting certain exercizes when she "told" me she didn't like them (pawing the ground or whatnot), thus rewarding her for being uncooperative.  So up until now a standard lesson plan would be like this and would last between an hour and an hour and a half:

  1. Grooming, tacking up and lifting hooves.
  2. Start with a little low key longeing at the walk and trot using the rope halter.
  3. Low key porcupine game, then a quick rubdown.
  4. Some more longeing at the walk, trot and canter using the bit.
  5. Backing and leading work.
  6. Some more porcupine game for fore- and hindquarter yielding and sidepasses.
  7. Finishing with a rubdown from the mounting block and / or a brisk walk around the stable yard or parking lot with lots of stops, turns, circles and back-ups.
  8. Grooming, untacking and lifting hooves.
Yesterday however I made sure to squeeze at least 5 minutes of desensitizing exercize (sacking out, rubbing, grooming, etc...) between each sensitizing exercize; so the lesson plan went like this and lasted about 3 hours, without her ever getting too bored or tired:
  1. Grooming, tacking up and lifting hooves (D).
  2. Low key longeing at the walk and trot (S).
  3. Flapping the longe whip back and forth to her right and left (D).
  4. Some more longeing until she cantered easily in both directions (S).
  5. Twirling the longe whip overhead (D).
  6. Sending through between me and the fence where that scary new lamp post is (S).
  7. Rub down with longe whip and hands, adjusting tack (D).
  8. Roundpenning to get consistent direction changes toward me (S).
  9. Rubbing and lightly slapping hands all over body, lifting hooves at liberty (D).
  10. Sending at liberty between me and the roundpen fence (S).
  11. Putting on and taking off bridle, lifting hooves (D).
  12. Yielding the hindquarters to indirect feel (craning head towards hindquarters, pointing with longe whip), direction changes (S).
  13. Putting on and taking off bridle, lifting hooves, bunny hopping (D).
  14. Porcupine game on fore- and hindquarters, lateral flexion of the neck (S).
  15. Adjusting tack at tying posts, rubbing, putting on and taking off bridle (D).
  16. Longeing with the bit at the walk and trot, giving to the bit to the right and left (S).
  17. Rubbing "from above" and half-mounting at mounting block (D).
  18. Sending one step at a time from mounting block (S).
  19. Grooming, untacking and lifting hooves (D).
I think if I can make sure to remember to plan lessons in this way in the future and to NEVER quit an exercize because she's not doing it well or is bored but just go back to the starting point and practice where she was doing it well, I'll have a much easier time of it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to...

Build a roundpen for less than 50€!
  1. Buy, beg or borrow 8 to12 thin fiberglass posts (preferably 6 feet long and no less than 4 1/2 feet long), 2 screw-on insulators for each post, two insulated handles and about 300 feet of electric fence tape (our horses respect this kind of fences so we don't have to connect it but if your horses aren't familiar with or don't respect electric fencing, you'll need an energizer to electrify the tape).
  2. Get out a 20 to 30 foot longe line (20 feet for a 40 foot diameter roundpen, 25 feet for a 50 foot diameter roundpen and so on...).
  3. Find a friend and ask them to stand in the center of where you want your round pen to be holding one end of the longe line.
  4. Hold the other end of the longe line and walk around them in a circle, imagining that your friend is the center of a compass.
  5. Mark the ground clearly (the actual direction doesn't matter, this is just to visualize where to put your marks) at N, E, S and W, then at NE, SE, SW and NW (if you make a 60 foot roundpen you'll have to make two marks between each "cardinal" direction).
  6. Choose where you want your "gate" to be and mark the ground accordingly.
  7. Hammer your posts in at each mark (helps if you do it after a particularly rainy day) until the posts are firmly set in the ground.
  8. Screw your two insulators on each post at roughly the same height; the upper one should be about 3 1/2 to 4 feet off the ground and the lower one about halfway down.
  9. Tie the tape where your "gate" opening will be and wrap the tape all the way around the top of the fence, snapping it into the upper insulator at each post, then looping completely back around the bottom of the fence, snapping into each lower insulator.
  10. When you get to back to the door, tie or fasten the electrical tape firmly to the gate "hinge" post so that when the door is opened, the rest of the fence won't droop.
  11. Tie or otherwise attach your handles so that they can just be hooked around the far gate post with a little stretching.
  12. If you're using an energizer, connect it up and voilà!  You've just built a roundpen in under two hours and for less than 50€ (not counting the energizer)!!!
Before you get started, be sure to check out these safety tips:
  • This roundpen is NOT sturdy enough for wild, extremely green or very spooky / nervous horses who are afraid of humans: they'll run into or over it in a heartbeat.
  • It's a good idea to wear a helmet, especially if it's the first time your horse has worked in the roundpen: they tend to get rebellious at one point and can kick or strike out at you.
  • The most dangerous situation is when your horse won't move off and you have to get in close to make it drive away from you, so be sure to use a flag, longe whip or your twirling rope as an extension of your arm.
  • Extended roundpen (or longeing) sessions on extremely hard or soft footing are bad for your horse's legs-- hard terrain jars their bones and soft terrain can cause muscle and joint strain.
  • If your horse is sweating profusely, having trouble breathing or stumbling constantly, back off and let him rest!  If you make sure he's facing you while he's resting, he learns that standing still and looking at you is a good, comfortable thing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner, Equine-Style

Ah, Thanksgiving!  Time to think back on our successes this year, appreciate our lot in life, think lovingly of the people who have helped us get where we are and most of all, stuff ourselves with way too much food.  Sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, jello salad, yeast rolls, stuffing, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, mincemeat pie and the obligatory turkey and gravy... it's a good thing we only eat this way once a year!  But what about our horsey friends?  Shouldn't they be able to share this tradition of gratitude and overeating with us?

To make sure that they don't miss out on all the deliciousness I scoured the web for the best recipes to make your own horse treats.  That way they'll at least be grateful that we gave them something yummy!!!  And if your oven is too full of people food to make room for horsey stuff, have no fear: there are still plenty of "instant" treats you can give your horse that you probably have lying around your house like Ginger snaps, Grapes, Watermelon, Carrots, Lettuce, Bananas, Strawberries, Cereal, Apples, Peppermints and Sugar cubes are just a few.

DISCLAIMER: Please be sure to follow a couple of basic guidelines when feeding treats to your or anyone else's horse:

Starbuck's Savoury Bran Mash - My own recipe!

  • 6 cups bran
  • 2 cups pellet feed
  • 1/2 cup flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup garlic flakes
  • 2 tablespoons rock salt
  • 3 cups water
Combine all ingredients in a bucket and mix well until all ingredients are moist.  Serve immediately.

I give Starbuck this treat in her feed bucket after every workout or training session and she absolutely loves it-- the flax seed is good for her coat and hooves, the garlic is great for circulation, her immune system and keeping bugs away and the rock salt makes her thirsty and helps her body to absorb water better.

Baked Carrot Crispies - From
  • 2 carrots,shredded
  • 1 apple,shredded
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup flower
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup bran
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
Preheat oven to 400 degres. Generously grease a muffin tin. MIx carrots and apples into a bowl with molasses.,bran,brown sugar,water,flour and oatmeal. Mixture should have a thick and doughy consistency. Add more bran if needed. Scoop dough into a muffnin tin,sprinkle each muffin with brown sugar and bake in the over for 30-50 minutes until well cooked

Pumpkin Surprise - From
Take a small pumpkin, cut off top and remove all insides. Be sure and get all the seeds. Fill it with grain, carrots, apples, peppermints, strawberries or whatever fruit you have on hand. Replace top and serve to your horse.

Special Bran Mash - From
  • 1 pound Dry Bran
  • Boiling Water
  • Molasses
  • Sliced Carrots
  • Apples
  • Oats
Place approximately one pound of dry bran in a large bucket. Pour boiling water over the bran and stir to moisten. (A metal sweat scraper does an excellent job of this.) You can make the mash "crumbly" or quite sloppy, depending on your horse's taste. Cover the bucket with a large towel, burlap feed sack, or some leg quilts, and let the bran steam for at least fifteen minutes, until its temperature is comfortable to your fingers. Add molasses, sliced carrots and apples, oats, or Sweetfeed to taste (if you wish to soften the grains, you can mix them into the bran before adding the water). If adding, special herbs, mix them in just before serving, as any cooking might change their composition and effectiveness. Serve warm.

No-Cook Snaps - From Horse Treat Recipes
  • 4 cups bran
  • 4 cups applesauce
Mix ingredients. Batter should be doughy. Roll out with a rolling pin and cut shapes with cookie cutters. Let dry and serve.

Peppermint Treats - From
  • 10 crushed peppermints
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 apples
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • water
Mix flour and oats together
Add molasses
Add water slowly until mixture is doughy
Add peppermint
Add apples
Cook at 350 degrees until golden brown

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Cruising Youtube for roundpen techniques I happened upon a few videos from Josh Lyons about teaching your horse to do tricks and got interested... I'm always looking for low-key things I can work on during Starbuck and my lessons to mix them up and keep her on her toes, and it turns out that you can teach most tricks in multiple 10 minute a day sessions.  So in between longeing, giving to the bit, yielding fore and hindquarters and sidepassing work I'm going to try to work in a few minutes of trick training in every lesson.

The first thing I'm planning to teach her is to give me a hug (although using negative instead of positive reinforcement-- the release of pressure instead of treats), then I'll work on bowing and laying down.  I would love to have her bow and mount that way, then have her get up, I just think it'd be so cool!  Below are some videos I found either instructive or just plain fun:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Roundpen Video

After we finished building the roundpen yesterday I wanted to give it a try, so last night I read up on Sylvia Scott's and John Lyons' roundpenning techniques and led Starbuck in there.  It took about 45 minutes in all, working at a trot in order to not tire her out too much, and I think for a first try it went really well!  I got to the point where I could consistently get her to turn around and then when I stopped she would come up behind me and follow me for a while (until she got hungry and would start munching on the plants which are still growing inside the roundpen).

So for the coming week or two I plan to work in the roundpen a few more times until I can control her feet 100% using only my body language.  Specifically what I'm looking for is:
  • Control of speed and gait.
  • Change direction facing towards me.
  • Follow me in circles, straight lines and zig zags.
  • Stop on cue and stand ground tied.
  • Turn her head (and body if necessary) to look at me when I "kiss" to her and keep looking at me.
  • Come to me on cue.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Today I got the stable owner Marina's permission to use a circular space in the stableyard, so I bought some fiberglass poles and my friend Virginia donated her electric tape and we made a roundpen!  It's about 40 feet across and I think it should hold up pretty well, the great thing is that we can always take it down and use the poles and tape to make something else.  I tried a little work with Starbuck but didn't have much time and was pretty tired after putting it up so mostly she just grazed (right now there are some plants underfoot but I doubt they'll last long).

Tonight I'm planning to read up on roundpenning techniques and tomorrow if it doesn't rain too much we'll do a full session, I'll be sure to take note of how we do.  Here are some photos:

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Today I saddled up Chico, a former trot racehorse, and decided to get some riding practice, so my friends Virginia, Carolina and I (I actually just realized what a coincidence their names are) rode out to explore the country roads which wind through the almond and orange groves surrounding the stable grounds.  The weather was gorgeous and we had a really nice ride, culminating in a wild race across a nearby field.  Man, can that horse trot!  We were already going faster than Carolina's horse before Chico even broke into a gallop!  It was lots of fun and I was glad to be back in the saddle, and although I kept wishing I was with Starbuck but I guess that time will come soon enough...

After we got back to the stable I took Starbuck out to do a little longeing and get her a little more used to the bridle-- I used the rope halter for so long that she actually responds better to the halter than to the bridle.  So we worked on longeing and then on lateral flexion, just giving to light pressure on the bit to the right and left.  We also did a little porcupine game to practice moving first her hindquarters and then her shoulders away and finally we even achieved a few sidepasses by combining the two cues... fantastic!  All in all it's been a really positive weekend... just what I needed after a couple of weeks of what seemed like a frustrating lack of results.

I actually have read many many times that often horses will get worse shortly before getting better, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised... also last week was heat week so it was normal for her to be a little PMSsy.  Anyway, here's a video of us working today (thanks Carolina!!!), enjoy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Today Starbuck behaved so well!!!  We made two big advances which I'm really super pleased about:

  1. She calmly lifted ALL FOUR HOOVES for me and let me clean them all out.  FINALLY!!!
  2. She completed a full circle going in both directions at the canter.
I can't really say enough about how important the first one is for me... this means that I can finally start giving her the hoof care she needs and deserves.  Cleaning, moisturizing, rainproofing, trimming and maybe even shoeing at some point... I feel a little guilty that it took so long, but I know that I've been working on it every day and except for the first tries she's been in the learning zone the whole time and that the best part is that she now won't associate having her hooves lifted or cleaned with anything bad or scary.

As far as the canter thing, this is something we've been working on for quite some time.  Obviously Starbuck has been able to canter since she was like two days old, but it's one thing to canter in a straight line in a field and another thing altogether to canter in a fairly small circle and with a bunch of tack on.  In all our previous attempts she would start cantering and then lose her balance a little and fall back into a trot, but today I was able to urge her on to a lovely and controlled canter for a full 40 foot circle before she came back down to the trot.  So this means that she's finding her balance and learning how to control her body, and that now all we have to do is keep working on getting a little more distance out of her every day!

I also wanted to share this picture of Marina (at the left) and some of her students enjoying the first oranges of the season... the stable is in an old orange grove and yesterday one of the boys climbed up one of the trees and threw down a bunch of slightly green, acidic but superjuicy oranges and we all sat in the sunshine and peeled and ate them-- they were delicious!  All in all a lovely day and I feel confident about making real and visible progress.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Recently a lot of people have been asking me when I'm going to ride Starbuck for the first time and I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll do it in the next few weeks.  She's starting to really respect my personal space-- I've achieved a bubble of about 1 foot (I need to expand it but it's a good start) and is much more controllable when leading in new environments.  I've also been longeing her in different places to get her to practice focussing on me and my cues even when there are wierd new things around.

One of the most frequent questions I get about the first ride is "What will you do if she starts going and you can't stop her?".  Well, according to John Lyons and Elisabeth de Corbigny, the hardest part of a horse's first ride is usually getting them to move their feet, not getting them to stop moving.  But I've been reading up and the basic idea is to take advantage of changes of direction using the reins to cause a natural slowing down and keep working on that until it develops into a stop.  In other words, instead of just hauling back on the reins which will cause the horse a lot of pain and could cause her to bolt or at the very least stick her head up in the air to avoid the pressure, you keep on riding her with light contact and changing direction using one rein at a time until she stops of her own accord, then you release the reins to let her know she's done the right thing.

Here are some videos from John and Josh Lyons (John's son) which talk more about improving those stops and gaining control over your horse's speed.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dirty Girl

When I got to the stable today after 5 straight days of rain, I found out that Starbuck likes to roll in the mud... she was so dirty-- absolutely caked in mud-- I just had to take a few shots :P  Her winter coat is coming in strong and she's starting to feel like a stuffed animal (on the non-muddy spots), I can't wait to see how she'll look in the dead of winter!

Now that Daylight Savings is full on and it gets dark at like 5 p.m. I've been taking long lunches to go to the stable, which I think is actually more conducive to her focussing on the lessons.  Today we did a little longeing and some driving work (me cuing her to go forward from her side without touching her) and she behaved really really well!  Which is extra surprising considering that we hadn't done much of anything structured since Saturday... maybe my friend Gaby of Gredos Ecuestre is right and young horses do their best with a few days off in between training sessions.

Food for thought...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Training in the Rain

Yesterday it was raining cats and dogs but I wanted to work a little with Starbuck anyway, so I decided to break out my umbrella for some sacking out.  She seemed to be a little sore around her flanks so I just worked on head and neck for now but later this week I'll take the umbrella back and get her 100% used to it being rubbed and opened over and under every part of her body.  But she was really good and sweet and actually discovered that she loved licking the rain off the umbrella XD.

My saint-like husband tagged along and got some great pics, enjoy!
 Starting out small...
 Getting her interested by showing the folded umbrella, letting her lip it and walking away.
 Opening the umbrella for the first time from afar.
After a while she gets curious about this new "toy". 
 Walking backwards keeps it nonthreatening.
 What's all this then?
 To the side...
 To the side once again...
 Why won't you let me eat the toy???
 Oooh, that's flappy around my ears!!!
 Hmmmm.... do you have a treat?
 So.... no treat, huh?
Ending the session by opening and closing the umbrella so she gets used to the noise and change in shape.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sex Ed

The other day I noticed that Starbuck was even more affectionate than usual and when she kind of peed repeatedly while me and my friend were rubbing her I realized she was in heat.  I had noticed that she was in heat before-- days where she gets really distracted and a little cranky and pees more than usual-- but I had never seen her like this before.  She was acting downright slutty, for example I was grooming her at the tying posts and a class ended and all these little girls came up with their lesson geldings and Starbuck just went crazy waving her butt around, winking her vulva and squirting at all of them.  And all of the little girls were asking me why she was doing this, if she was sick or something and my face just turned beet red!

In order to be able to at least understand what she's going through and hopefully answer questions from the peanut gallery with some aplomb I decided to do some research, so here's some of the stuff I've learned about the equine estrous cycle:

  • Mares have what's called a Seasonal Polyestrus Cycle.  This means that during part of the year (usually spring to fall but depends on the length of days) they have multiple estrus (heat) cycles.
  • These estrus (heat) cycles usually last around 6 to 7 days and occur every 15 to 16 days (diestrus or NOT in heat), making the full estrous (estrus + diestrus) cycle about 21 to 22 days long (that's just a little shorter than human femles), although this can vary from mare to mare.
  • The gestation period for a foal to develop from conception to birth is about 11 months, thus mares stop ovulating (and thus don't go through estrus) in winter in order to not give birth at the harshest time of year.
  • The most apparent signs that a mare has entered estrus (is in heat) are more frequent urination, lifting her tail and "winking" her vulva, squatting as if to urinate but without urinating and permitting or even encouraging a stallion's presence.  Some mares may also be a lot crankier or even agressive toward other mares, geldings and humans.
Here are some articles about mares in heat for further reading:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Roundpen Roundup

Recently I've discovered an interesting website from a guy called Marv Walker who calls his training style "Awareness Horsemanship" and uses a roundpen technique called "The Bonder" to build a natural herd dynamic between the human and the horse.  Somewhere on his site he makes a distinction between John Lyons' and Monty Roberts' roundpenning techniques which rang true to me: nearly all Natural Horsemanship proponents (with a few notable exceptions like Pat Parelli) use the roundpen almost as the basis of their training, but there are subtle distinctions between their goals and methods which aren't so apparent at first glance.
Now we don't have a roundpen at Equitec (my stable) but I've been thinking about trying to build one or using Starbuck's paddock as a makeshift roundpen by blocking off the corners with traffic cones.  So in this post I'd like to investigate a little what all the fuss is about the roundpen and what some of the different techniques are.

For those of you who are wondering, a roundpen is just that, a circular enclosure fenced off with whatever people have around: some folks (at least here in Spain) use mattress box springs held together end to end with duct tape and others use solid hardwood fencing, you can also make a temporary or portable roundpen with PVC pipes sunk in buckets of cement and electrical fencing tape or just rope.  They're usually about 60 feet in diameter although some are smaller and the footing should be somewhat soft, since going in a circle can be harder on a horse's joints than going straight.  It's meant to be a training tool and not a place to just ride or excercize your horse.
So what's all the fuss about?  Why is a roundpen better than longeing or working in an arena?  Basically the roundpen allows a human to step into a leadership role by provoking a "fight or flight" response in the horse (since horses view humans as predators initially they don't tend to choose fight but even if they do it's relatively easy to disuade them as long as you keep your distance and use a rope or whip as an extension of your arm).  Then by staying in the center of the roundpen but maintaining a constant position slightly behind the horse's driveline (around their withers) the horse realizes that they're not just running, that the human is "chasing" it and that it can't get away.  

At this point the human generally shows the horse that she can make it move in any direction she wants by moving slightly into its space so it turns around and runs the other way, which is repeated several times.  This whole sequence causes the human to occupy a leadership role in the horse's mind, since only a horse further up in the herd hierarchy can make another horse move out of the way.  After a while and a little resistance, the horse will start looking for a way to stop running and look to the human to see what to do next.  At this point the techniques really start to differ.  However the general idea is the same: set up a situation where because of the size and shape of the enclosure the horse MUST do what you're asking it to do and use alpha horse-like movements to convince the horse that the human is higher up in the hierarchy.

So here are some horsemen who use a roundpen for training and their basic techniques:
  • John Lyons: Moves the horse around the pen changing direction and controlling speed until the horse starts looking for an alternative to escape the ache in her lungs from running.  Allows the horse to rest as a reward when the horse does what he cues her to do (like turn and face him when he makes a "kiss" sound).  Goal: Obedient, attentive horse.
  • Monty Roberts: Moves the horse around the pen by making predator-like gestures and movements and then when he sees the horse "chewing" or licking his lips, adopts a passive stance and turns away from the horse, allowing the horse to "Join-up" and follow him.  Goal: Horse who looks to human as leader.
  • Clinton Anderson: Moves the horse around the pen using direction changes and getting her to turn toward the trainer and away from the fence to get the horse to respect the human and start thinking logically instead of fleeing.  Goal: Respect from and control over the horse.
  • Marv Walker: Moves the horse around the pen at the slowest speed possible using just enough stimulus to keep her moving and changes direction until the head lowers, showing that she's relaxed.  Then turns his back on the horse allowing the horse to come up and follow him, showing that they've "bonded".  Goal: Horse who "bonds" with human.
If I ever get around to building that roundpen I'll be sure and try out the different techniques and see which I like most.  Here are some more articles about roundpen techniques: