My name is Melissa and I am currently training my first BLM Mustang. He leads, backs, and gives to pressure pretty well at this point but we're struggling in the round pen. When I try to send him off using a lunge whip or flag he doesn't budge. They don't get him moving whatsoever! I started using a plastic bag on the end of a lunge whip and that worked for a little while but then he stopped wanting to move forward and got frustrated. This led to irritation and he began showing concerning behavior. Not completely aggressive, but definitely not ok(pawing and frustration) I'm not sure what to try from here.
If you have time to give me some tips that would be great!
Thank you for reaching out to me! I am so happy to hear that you are training your first BLM mustang, that is a huge step in your horsemanship and it is so rewarding.
When you say that he leads, backs, and gives to pressure pretty well, I am assuming you are talking about his softness while you are "connected" to him. It is easy for a horse to listen while close to you or connected through a lead, because he knows that you can correct him quickly if he finds the wrong answer.
In a round pen, since you are somewhat far away from the horse, it takes a little more pressure to initially teach the exercise. Eventually, you won't need that much, but in the beginning we need to exaggerate our body language. This is why we implement the use of a training stick and string, or a flag. It is an extension of our arm and creates a balance between the strength difference of a 100 lb animal and a 1200 lb animal.
In my experience, I've found that 99.9% of BLM mustangs are very lazy and cold blooded animals. It makes sense, because they are built to survive instead of to perform. They are also smart and good at figuring out ways to get out of work. It sounds like your mustang has figured out that you will eventually give up if he just stands still. I've trained lots of problem horses that would just stop and face you in the roundpen rather than send off. Horses are professional people trainers and are good at outsmarting us.
To fix this, you need to be more stubborn than him(sometimes a hard thing to do with mustangs). Remember your pressure stages, ask, tell, then demand. In the roundpen, this looks like point, cluck, then spank. Most likely, your horse will have no reaction to the point. He might not have a reaction to the cluck. And it sounds like he doesn't have a reaction to the spank. That is perfectly fine at first, he is still learning. What you need to do is not give up until he gives in. Point, cluck, then spank the ground, then spank him. Start softly and become as firm as nessecary. As much as it takes for him to find the right answer. But- here's the catch. Once he does lope or trot off, immediately release the pressure and leave him alone(As long as he keeps moving). This teaches him that it's much easier to respect your space and move rather than getting bitten or kicked by the leader(that's you).
As much as I want to say that horse training is all rainbows and butterflies, it's not. Horses are strong animals that need a strong leader. They TEST you to see if you're worthy of leading them. You can't have a 1200 lb animal disrespecting you, that is downright dangerous. That is why we have to be as soft as possible and as firm as necessary. It's a trade off. You be respect me, and I'll respect you. We will get along just fine. But just like in a herd, if you overstep your boundaries, I will put you back in place. Remember that a kick or bite from another horse is MUCH worse than a simple stick or lead rope.
I hope this helped, and can't wait to see what your new equine partner and you achieve together!