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Riding in the round pen?

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  • Horse lame round pen only
  • Round pen building

 
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    11-09-2011, 06:28 PM
  #11
Weanling
I agree, loping for an extended period of time is not good for horses no matter how "in condition" they are or how warmed up they are. It's not good. My friend rides in a round pen (I don't know the size but my guess is 60') only and I've seen her lope for 15-30 mins straight and almost all of her horses have ringbone/windpuffs and are all navicular. She's broken them all since they were young and there is no reason that can explain why they all end up lame after several months of training other than the fact how she rides them in a round pen at certain gaits (mainly loping) for two long. In my opinion running hard or for a long period of time in such a small circle is not good for any horse. I love round pens, they are useful training tools but you have to be careful.
     
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    11-09-2011, 06:44 PM
  #12
Teen Forum Moderator
We have a 16-17 year old OTTB who was broke at two years old, raced until last year, and is now training to become a low level hunter jumper and lesson horse. He ran hard for about thirteen years, and has ridden in the round pen with me atleast two or three times a week, building up from a one to two minute canter to a straight 10-15 minutes of varied canter work.

He hasn't had a single lame day in his life.



Same for our other horses who work in the round pen, as well as friend's horses. No lameness. This leads me to believe that there is most likely a different reason that her horses have gone lame. Incorrect shodding, too young, not conditioned correctly, bad footing in her pen...the list can go on.


We arent saying to just let loose as a canter for twenty plus minutes every day. I recall only telling her that cantering a few circles to establish a better seat and aids would be a good idea if she wanted som variety.
     
    11-09-2011, 06:46 PM
  #13
Yearling
I appreciate hearing all these differing opinions, as this is all new to me. In my case, this won't be a frequent activity, and what I'm taking away from the advice is that we should go slow and not overdo it at faster gaits. I think it will be a nice change of pace to allow us some fresh air, and to work on "fine tuning" our way of going at the walk and maybe trot. Though Izzy isn't young, she is rather unbalanced at the canter, so I'm thinking that's not something we want to push when we don't have enough space. Thanks everyone!
     
    11-09-2011, 06:51 PM
  #14
Green Broke
To me round yards are good for ground work, free lunging and working with inexperienced/young horse or riders, or doing some precision work that is better in a small space. Otherwise I don't see the point of riding in one. I mean pretty much any benefit you could gain from it could be better gained in a large area. Working in a circle I think is much more beneficial if you have to keep your horse in a circle without barriers holding them in. The whole no reins/loose contact is a great exercise I think, but is best when you actually have to do something with your horse, not just go around in circles.

Also, due to the size of the round yard you pretty much generally have to stick to the outside, which means you could easily catch a loose toe or get banged up. Normally I rarely ride that close to a barrier.

People say it is similar to lunging, which is true, but many people don't think lunging is that great for a horse. I'll lunge as necessary for training, but don't find it has much of a use outside of that.

If the weather is good why don't you take the opportunity to go out riding? Explore the area, have some fun.
     
    11-09-2011, 07:07 PM
  #15
Weanling
Riding on a tight endless circle, such as riding in a round pen, puts stress onto the horses knees, hocks, stiffles, ect. And the longer the stress is applied will eventually wear at these major stress points aswell as other areas mainly on the horses legs. This becomes much harder on the horse when he is also not properly balanced or bending correctly which tends to happen when a horse is either out of shape, green or simply not being ridden properly. A lot depends on the horse's build and confromation too. Sometimes a horse won't land evenly on his hooves with each stride because of his build and this is worsened on a circle, therefore causing increased stress on his joints. There are a lot of factors, but I don't believe that a horse should work hard on an endless circle, It can become quite boring for the horse too. Egrogan, it sounds like you should have no problems or difficulties with what you are going to be doing.
     
    11-12-2011, 07:01 PM
  #16
Yearling
Just wanted to report back on how it went today. It was a beautiful day, mid-50s and bright fall sunshine. We headed out and Izzy was really excited. She isn't ridden outside often and she thought this was just glorious; ears pricked, bright eyed, and a big bounce in her step.

It quickly became obvious that our primary goal for our ride was getting her to pay attention to me when she was so excited. Cars, wind, falling leaves, all of these things were very interesting to her. She wasn't dangerous/out of control, just very stimulated by all the new sights and smells (she gets lots of turnout, but on the other side of the property- this was new scenery for her). In fact, there was a lot of shooting in the mid-distance, and that didn't seem to catch her attention at all- she was more interested in the leaves falling around us.

After I got her paying attention to me, the next big issue was tempo. She is usually a forward type (we like to call her a sporty Morgan :) ) but she was borderline too quick today (i.e., I asked for a trot and she immediately wanted to canter and was hard to bring back down). So, we focused on walking, spiraling circles, direction changes through the circle, etc. The little, important things. I would say we probably rode for about 40 minutes. She worked up quite a sweat during that time and took awhile to cool out.

All in all, it was GREAT to get outside into the fresh air. Given all the concerns about putting too much strain on her legs, and the "rushy" way she was moving, I don't think this is something I will do regularly, but I did enjoy feeling the sun on my face today.

Thanks again for all the advice and suggestions.
     
    11-12-2011, 07:21 PM
  #17
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan    
I appreciate hearing all these differing opinions, as this is all new to me. In my case, this won't be a frequent activity, and what I'm taking away from the advice is that we should go slow and not overdo it at faster gaits. I think it will be a nice change of pace to allow us some fresh air, and to work on "fine tuning" our way of going at the walk and maybe trot. Though Izzy isn't young, she is rather unbalanced at the canter, so I'm thinking that's not something we want to push when we don't have enough space. Thanks everyone!
If your just doing it for a short amount of time to take advantage of the weather and your horse isn't young, there should be no problem. I think some people don't realize it's not just loping in small circles for extended times- the footing is a huge factor in stressed joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Some people want to dump 15 dumptruck loads of sand into a pen thinking it is a good idea. Too deep of footing creates injuries. Other than that the other disadvantage to riding constantly in a round pen is that I find it makes a horse "sticky". With my colts as soon as I have a handle on them, usually less than 10 rides, they go outside or at least to an arena.


Also this is perfect for teaching balance! Your horse will have to learn how to balance himself on a small circle.

Have fun and enjoy the good weather!
     
    11-13-2011, 08:05 AM
  #18
Yearling
Round pen? Perfect opportunity to ride without stirrups AND reins! Practice your balance and leg yielding at W/T/C if size permits. One of my best lessons was done in a round pen with the instructor in the middle with a lunge whip (no lunge line) while I went through all of the gaits, worked on my leg yielding and even worked on transitions and halting without reins. Was a very cool experience and brought a lot of self-awareness to myself as to how much I relied on the reins.
     

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