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SEAmom 07-06-2011 08:15 AM

Round pen work
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I apologize if this seems like a stupid question, but here goes anyway.

For the first time I'm at a barn with a round pen. I've never used one before and would like to do so whenever possible, so I don't have to share the arena with the lesson people.

Since I've never used one, my horse has never been in one either. He can't be ridden yet, so I can only do ground work. I'm assuming I can lunge him, but do I still need a lunge line? He can lunge without the line in an arena setting. What else can I do with him in there?
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candandy49 07-06-2011 09:10 AM

If you know your horse will free lunge, sans lunge line by all means free lunge in the round pen, but you might intialy use a lunge line to get the voice commands set in motion before free lunging in the round pen.

How young is your horse? If he is old enough to start getting him accustomed to being bitted up? You could maybe put a training surcingle on him.

Just spending time in the close proximity with your horse can help build on a relationship of trust and respect from your equine friend.

Cherie 07-06-2011 10:17 AM

My advice -- do not use the round pen a lot. It is a boring and counter-productive place to be with a young horse. If he longes on a line -- that is much better. Horses learn very quickly to use the round pen fence as the perimeter and boundry. They learn to depend and 'lean' on it. They become very unmanageable without it. They can become very difficult to work in the open when they have spent too much time in a round pen.

We are now seeing more and more horses that are round pen sour and round pen dependant.

SEAmom 07-06-2011 11:08 AM

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I would only use it when there are lessons and until their outdoor arena is finished with the upgrade.
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SEAmom 07-06-2011 11:55 AM

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He's 3. He's been bitted up, long lined, and lunged under saddle. I want sure if working in a round pen was any different than in an arena - other than the shape.
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Cherie 07-06-2011 06:23 PM

What I was trying to say is that it is MUCH different to the horse. The round pen fence becomes the barrier that guides the horse around in a circle rather than the longe line. When horses get very comfortable with following that barrier, they do not want to work out in the open.

We have seen too many horses to count that learned to do that and when they were ridden or even longed in the open, they just bolted or drifted, shoulder first until they found a fence to follow.

I, personally, do not longe horses in the round pen unless I keep them 8 or 10 feet in from the fence. I frequently warm a horse up under saddle for 5 minute or less, in the round pen, and then take them out for their regular ride.

Round pens are for people -- not for horses. A competent rider / trainer does not need one at all. They are a convenience for some things as long as they are not over-used; and the person using them is aware of their pitfalls.

SEAmom 07-06-2011 08:49 PM

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I can see that happening with horses that work in it too much. He's not under saddle yet, so that's not an option for me. During the week, I go after work and there are lesions. That means we have to share the indoor arena and it's pretty stuffy in there with a lesson and me working my boy. The outdoor arena is being completely redone and won't be done for probably a few weeks, at least. That leaves the round pen. It's pretty big - not sure on the exact size- and I can keep him of the rail with a line.

Thanks for the tips! I'll be sure not to do it often, but for now it's the best option while lessons are going on. He does have a strong background in the arena, so hopefully that'll prevent him relying on the fence for the few times I have him out there.
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tinyliny 07-06-2011 09:38 PM

I haven't heard of horses becoming dependent on a round pen wall, but I can sure imagine how that might happen. Besides, I dont' encounter so many horses, so I will certainly take Cherie's word for it.

To avoid that, do a different kind of work in the round pen. You don't want to just have him mindlessly going around. you would be able to do things in there like having him learn to follow the line, disengage the hindquarter, the forequarter (all things that don't require a round pen) work on getting him to follow you and learn to follow your body language better (actually, you are learning to lead better). YOu can work on using body language to get up and down transitions, to turn your horse and to draw your horse. All of these things build on getting your horse to focus on you as the leader and you to focus on commiunitcating accurately to him.

If you have never done it before, then either get someone to show you are start looking at some videos. Doesn't really matter if you do it "wrong". Look at it like "play". Is play wrong?

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