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Once your horse understands an exercise, it’s important to move on. There’s nothing horses hate more than being forced to do the same exercise every single day. Humans are the same. Imagine if when you were in school your teacher never got past teaching you the alphabet. Every day, she’d drill on the same lesson. You’d get bored quickly and start to resent even seeing her. The same theory applies to your horse. If your horse has the roundpenning exercises down, get him out of the roundpen and introduce new exercises to him. Don’t nag him to death. All of the groundwork exercises are designed to earn the horse’s respect and build his trust in you as a leader. Continually driving your horse around in circles is only going to cause him to get sour. Lots of horses develop bad attitudes when they are forced to do the same exercise over and over.
If your horse is developing a sour attitude, be sure you’re introducing new exercises, mixing things up and giving him a purpose for doing the exercises. That’s why I built the obstacle course at the ranch – it allows me to fine-tune the groundwork exercises without boring the horses to death. Now, just because the horse understands a particular exercise, it doesn’t mean you won’t ever come back to the exercise. You’ll certainly still practice it, but maybe only twice a week, and you can keep it fresh by incorporating obstacles.