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Horse aggression during round pen training

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  • Horse aggression in the training pen

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    11-26-2012, 02:25 PM
Never been chased out of a pen but they've given it their best shot. They ended up realizing that was a bad idea VERY fast. Cherie and the others have excellent opinions.
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    11-26-2012, 02:54 PM
Green Broke
I purchased a horse several years ago I believed was "round penned to death". The trainer I purchased him from is a fantastic trainer (you never hear a bad word about the guy from anyone), but this particular horse should have gotten out of that round pen and into the wide open space. He was SO NERVOUS. It took a month to get him to relax and walk on a loose rein out in the open. He didn't do anything aggressive at all, but was just super nervous about constantly paying attention to you. I think, in part, of being over-worked in the round pen by someone who does it right. Point being, even if you are working your horse correctly in the round pen, it should still be used moderately, as round pen sessions can be intense when you are contantly expecting that horse to do exactly as you say based on your body language.

I agree 100% with Cherie.

Any horse that shows aggressive behavior has had that problem created by the handler, 99% of the time. I say "99%" because there are always those whacko exception horses who are agressive/nuts on their own, although very few and far between.
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    11-26-2012, 03:26 PM
I also agree with Cherie, aggression in horses is caused by how the people handle them, not simply because they were round-penned. I've dealt with many horses, some unhandled and some spoiled. I've never had an unhandled horse even hint at acting aggressively against me. Some of the horses I've handled that had already been through one trainer or horses that had their owners buffaloed would be the hardest ones to deal with.

But you know how I dealt with it? I put them in the round-pen and handled them properly. It didn't take long for them to figure out that the ear pinning, striking, and charging wasn't going to cut it with me.

The one that I most commonly discuss is my Mustang Dobe. I got him as a 3 year old stud from the people who had adopted him. They had good intentions, but they didn't have the knowledge or ability to handle a wild stud. After the first few times when they pushed him too hard trying to catch him, he started to show aggressive tendencies since there was no flight option for him. Once he started doing that and he realized that a well-timed charge and bared teeth would make them leave him alone, it became habit and got worse. After a couple of days of proper handling and one 'come to jesus' meeting, he straightened up and has never pinned an ear at me since.

So, like others have said, the round pen has absolutely nothing to do with aggression issues. It's nothing more than a matter of proper handling/training versus improper handling/training.
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    11-26-2012, 10:27 PM
There are few cases where the horse has a screw loose and it IS the horse's problem. But I think about 99% of the time it is mishandling and the issues getting totally out of hand. =]
    11-26-2012, 10:56 PM
I had begun to wonder if by ceasing what we are asking the horse to do are we really releasing the pressure. The more I thought about it the more it kept coming to me to leave the pen. We had been working on something that was pushing the horse's comfort level and I was careful to watch I not over do it. When I saw how hard he was trying, I quit, rubbed his forehead, removed his halter and left the pen. I looked away from him and thought about supper, not him. After three or four minutes I reentered the pen and repeated what we'd been working on and now he seemed eager to try again. The second session lasted perhaps 3 minutes. He has it down pat and nothing further needs to be done. Was it because pressure was completely removed? In his case I believe it was.
    11-26-2012, 11:52 PM
Thanks for the replies. I agree with the posts that it is handler created due to incorrect release of the chasing pressure. I recently watched an experienced handler cue her horse to do inside and outside turns with the tiniest posture changes and then saw the same horse start kicking out, pinning its ears and threatening to strike when handled by someone learning the cues. The horse appeared very confused about what was wanted of it and expressed the resultant frustration with aggressive displacement behaviour. When the original trainer stepped back in the pen the horse went back to responding correctly without the aggression.

What I am really interested in from a research perspective is how frequent it is and the contexts in which it is likely to occur. Anyways am just at the very beginning of developing this project so appreciate the comments- they've given me a lot to go on with.

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