Fun new moment in the roundpen saga…
I discovered that my sweet, lovely Isis, who is so well-behaved while lunging, and so responsive when I am using a rope to give directions…
Is scared of lunge whips.
Now, before people start to comment about me being a horrible person because I used the word whip, let me say this:
I don’t beat my horses with the lunge whip.
I basically use it to make my arm longer, so that, especially in the roundpen, I can signal to the horse with whom I am working, and make my requests more clear. It’s a heck of a lot easier than using a rope to give instructions.
I have no idea if Isis has had bad experiences with lunge whips, or if she has simply not been around them. But the way she tucks her butt under and tries to bolt makes me think that she may have a reason to not like whips.
So that’s something to work on now.
We’re taking it slow.
Some people think it is counter-intuitive to teach your horse to view the lunge whip as safe. You want them to move away from it, and not think of it as friendly.
But that’s not right.
The whip, like any tool you use while working with your horse, should be treated as an extension of you. Your rope doesn’t tell the horse what to do. Neither does the bit. You tell them, using the tools to transmit your message.
If you don’t want your horse to be afraid of your hands, you shouldn’t want them afraid of the whip.
You want to teach the horse to listen to your requests, and respond because of mutual respect, not fear.
So I’ll be backtracking a little with Isis, teaching her listen to my requests through the whip, but to no more fear it than she does my hands. I don’t think it will take too long, but we’ll see.