As is the case with any training tool, there's a right way and a wrong way to use the flag Ã¢Â€Â“ a thin rod sporting a piece of cloth on one end.
"The flag is merely an extension of your arm," affirms trainer and clinician Peter Campbell, Wheatland, Wyoming. "To think otherwise is simply incorrect."
In an effort to assist horse owners and trainers, Campbell offers these simple flag fundamentals.
Why Use a Flag?
There are three primary reasons for using a stick-flag combo, says Campbell. The first reason is the safety provided by additional distance between you and your horse. "Using the flag usually keeps you out of range of a kick, bite or strike," Campbell states.
A second reason is to accustom a horse to being touched anywhere on his body while still giving him some "space." Using the flag puts you a bit farther away, allowing your horse to learn to react and understand while you're at a safe distance.
The third reason for using the flag is the ease with which you might help another horse when you're horseback.
"If you're working a colt from horseback and he isn't responding, it's easy to reach over with the flag and help him along," Campbell explains. "But the flag material needs to be substantial. If you use a floppy piece of material on the end of the stick, it's much harder to direct the horse. The wind can blow and move the flag around, which might confuse and frighten the animal."
Campbell says it's easy for a horse to become afraid of the flag, resulting in movement based on fear and not understanding. "It's a lot harder to get a horse to respond with respect," he contends.
For the rest of this story, see the January 2006 issue of Western Horseman.