The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Round Pen

Prior to anyone riding Rose again, I knew that I should accustom her to the round pen. She's often anxious about leaving her pasture, and she can get quite unthinking when she's anxious - not safe. She's fine if she picks the direction and timing of outings, and she can be reluctant to go back into the pasture, so it's not that she's herd-bound. Just anxious about new things. Both George and Bridget have embraced the round pen as a safe space (as long as someone's in there with them) - they recognize it as a place for conversation and experimentation. I wanted the same for Rose.

So a new Rose-in-the-round-pen campaign was begun. The first time I took her up, she was indeed rather anxious. Horses release emotion through movement, and by my inviting her to use the round pen to run around, she was able to discharge some of that flight/fear reaction in a more controlled way. I say "invite" deliberately, because I no longer use the round pen to insist that the horse run or move in any particular way. The horses will accept an invitation because they recognize that the round pen is a tool which they can use for their own comfort and advantage And if they choose not to accept the invitation, that is fine too.

After a while, I tried to encourage Rose to walk instead of run, but she was not yet able to turn the volume down on her emotions. However, a short while later, without being asked and without being asked to move at all, she took up an active, even walk at the rail of the pen. After several circuits, I asked her if she would like to try the other direction. She accepted, and turned, and continued her energetic walk.

It's exciting that the horses are able to figure out how to use the round pen in different ways to help them feel better, to work through issues and problems, and to try out new things. (For example: George's Practice.)

Since that first time, Rose has been confident in the round pen, and when the time came to bring my husband out to ride her, she was very content to meander about or just stand still and rest beside him.

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