Helping Others With Equines

Dee Howe

Round Penning




Decide which direction you want your horse to go.  When your horse is going clockwise direct the horse with the whip or lead rope in your left hand and use your right hand when going counter clockwise.  Be sure that your free hand is relaxed.  If your horse tries to go the opposite way, continue to correct them till they go the direction that you choose.  Praise your horse when they go the way that you want.  Make a mental note about which way is easier for the horse to go.



Do not concern yourself with gait control from the beginning, especially if the horse has been cooped up in a small area.  To increase your horse?s speed, raise the whip to the desired height (Walk-a few inches from the ground. Trot-one foot. Extended trot-two feet. Lope or canter-three feet.)  If needed add more support by increasing your own speed.  To slow your horse down, breathe with your nose and down into your abdomen, like you smell a flower.  Remember the height of the whip.  It is amazing how a horse will pick up these subtle cues and begin to look to you for guidance.



When stopping your horse drop the whip, breathe deep and stand quietly till they stop and look at you.  Walk up to the shoulder at a 45-degree angle from the center of the pen and rest a hand on the withers for 10 seconds.  If you want your horse to follow, and then rub the withers, pat the shoulder or neck and walk back the way you came.  If the horse runs off then step back to the center of the pen and repeat the process.  Sometimes they want to stop and come into you before you are ready, so continue to use the whip like your hand to hold the horse on the rail.  It will take some time but they can learn to stop at the rail and to come into you when you drop the whip.



As your horse is traveling around the round pen, ask yourself what part of its body is predominately arched towards you instead of aligning with the pen.  It may be the head, neck, shoulder, girth, barrel, hips or rear.  Whatever part it is, focus the whip at the point and support that part of the body till you notice a difference or shift in how the horse is moving.  Then relax the whip but remember to keep it pointed in the direction of your horse.




Support the horse?s body by using the whip as an extension of your hand.  When pointing it at the horse think about pushing the belly up as they are moving. They usually think you want them to go faster so maintain the cue till the horse slows down into the pressure.  If the horse wants to keep his head up, then put your whip at that level until they drop it down.  Allow the whip to drop down as the horse relaxes.





Teaching your horse how to change directions facing you increases his responsiveness to you under pressure.  All you do is switch hands with the whip in front of you and back in a straight line till the horse reverses or you meet the rail with your back.  If you cross your legs you are not backing straight.If the horse turns into the fence crack the whip straight up and down one time, ideally while the horse?s rear is facing you.  Allowing them to change direction and relax before trying to reverse again.  Repeat the process until the horse turns to you.  Breathe out and allow the horse to stop.  Wait a few minutes.  Then you can continue.