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Round Pen: The Great Equalizer


Although many horsemen and trainers extol the virtues of the round pen, many horse owners still overlook just how powerful such a pen can be in developing or maintaining a relationship with a horse. This is a shame because it is truly what I call the Great Equalizer in a horse-human relationship. Perhaps that bears some clarification?

I've found many horse owners to be concerned about their physical strength as opposed to that of their horse. They fear they simply cannot firmly establish themselves as the alpha, or leader, of the relationship because the horse is so much stronger. Thus when their horse displays poor ground manners or commits an inappropriate action they are more prone to ignore it and hope it doesn't develop into worse behaviors. After all, what choice do they have? The horse is just too strong.

The reality is that, except for the youngest of foals, a horse will always possess more raw strength than a human. Any attempts to overpower a horse with sheer strength are doomed to fail. Techniques such as raising your voice towards or slapping a misbehaving horse do not rely on strength - they are psychological. The horse does not want the conflict to escalate as it is uncertain exactly what your capabilities are, therefore it submits.

Of course there are exceptions, and truth be told such techniques are best used on already-trained horses or in situations where you cannot properly establish your authority due to lack of time or proper surroundings. The best way to instill respect and discipline into a naughty horse is by incorporating the Great Equalizer: the round pen.

Whereas many people view a round pen as a means for exercise (and it is true that it's a great exercise tool), the true power behind the round pen is its ability to establish dominance in a completely non-forceful method. In the round pen, physical strength means very little. It is a quick and easy (as opposed to other methods) technique to make your alpha status known.

Allow me to share an example that will better illustrate why a round pen will serve you better than strength.

I once owned a willful young colt raised by a first-time mother, so unfortunately the mare wasn't all that familiar with the need to discipline her colt. In fact although the colt was really quite a nice horse, he was unruly and tended to do whatever he wanted from day one. An experienced mare would not have permitted such antics, and had she "laid down the law" better from the first day the colt would likely have been a little less rambunctious.

Soon it came time to provide halter and lead training to this young upstart, and true to his form he made sure the task was trying. Although more than willing to walk with you, he felt there was little need to do so in an orderly fashion. If he "accidentally" bumped into you, or strayed so far from your side that you had to cling to the lead line with an iron grip, so be it. Snapping or jerking the lead line didn't impress him much.

Even worse, as a colt develops into a mature stallion they often can become very "nippy." This one was no different at first. Just as he did with his mother, he would sneak tiny bites and nips when you weren't watching, and although there wasn't mean intent behind them let's face it - they hurt!

Anytime a horse strikes at you (and a nip should be considered a strike) it's important that you retaliate with conviction so they think twice about doing so again. But when I would give this colt a fairly light slap he would almost smirk to himself and try to nip me again! Was he being mean-spirited? No! This colt grew up with no significant discipline from his mother and no fear of humans - we imprinted him from birth and thus he trusted us. Since he did not fear me, he thought I was engaging in some horseplay as any other colt would do.

A slap, as harsh as it sounds to us, is not always about force. It generally does not cause a horse much pain, but rather it is intended as a shock technique for a horse that already recognizes you as an alpha. Since this colt saw me as a playmate and equal, he possessed no fear of my slaps - my choice was to either escalate the physical force (which is generally not my first choice) or establish my dominance in a gentle way via the round pen.

Once I established that slaps or verbal growls would not have any effect on this colt, anytime he would nip at me or try my patience with his rebellious ways we would march straight to the round pen or enclosed paddock. While this colt found the notion amusing for the first five minutes or so, eventually the round pen will drain the "oats" from nearly any horse and he was no different.

With consistent round pen work, this colt soon learned that I wasn't a simple playmate - I was his leader. Although we could still enjoy each other's company, it had to be on terms that were agreeable to the both of us (no more black and blues!). Due to consistent round pen work, the leading, nipping and general disrespect issues became a thing of the past.

I hope my example of this young colt showed the folly of depending upon physical force to achieve your goals - "outgunning" a horse is not easy, practical or desirable. Never accept poor behavior and do not feel your authority is measured solely by your raw strength; both are mistakes that are all too commonly committed by horse owners. Instead consider the use of a round pen (or in a pinch you can use a longe line) and find out how easy training and discipline can be when using the Great Equalizer.

Jeffrey Rolo, owner of AlphaHorse and an experienced horse trainer and breeder, is the author of the above article. You will find many other informational articles dealing with horse training and care as well as games and other horse fun on his website: http://www.alphahorse.com


TODAYS NEWS BY OFFICEJAX FREE ADVERTISING AND AD EXCHANGE SOLUTIONSMORE PETS INFORMATION RESOURCES updated Thu. November / 21 / 2019

Don’t feed pets these Thanksgiving foods - WWBT NBC12 News
Don’t feed pets these Thanksgiving foods  WWBT NBC12 News

Pets and renter’s insurance: Why you need it - Bankrate.com
Pets and renter’s insurance: Why you need it  Bankrate.com

Shelter Tails: Senior pets need love too - Times Herald-Record
Shelter Tails: Senior pets need love too  Times Herald-Record

Pets of The Week Shelter List - Times Herald-Record
Pets of The Week Shelter List  Times Herald-Record

Facial recognition software to help find lost pets - WCTI12.com
Facial recognition software to help find lost pets  WCTI12.com

Innovet Pet Releases Thanksgiving Food Guide For Keeping Pets Safe During The Holiday - PRNewswire
Innovet Pet Releases Thanksgiving Food Guide For Keeping Pets Safe During The Holiday  PRNewswire

6 Thanksgiving foods you should keep away from your pets - WYMT News
6 Thanksgiving foods you should keep away from your pets  WYMT News

Thanksgiving table staples that could be toxic to your pets - Cleveland 19 News
Thanksgiving table staples that could be toxic to your pets  Cleveland 19 News

Turkey Day trauma: Keeping Thanksgiving safe for your pets - Rutland Herald
Turkey Day trauma: Keeping Thanksgiving safe for your pets  Rutland Herald

Prevent pet suffocation: Potato chip bags can be deadly for pets - FOX 13 Tampa Bay
Prevent pet suffocation: Potato chip bags can be deadly for pets  FOX 13 Tampa Bay

Petition Seeks Medical Marijuana for Ailing Household Pets - U.S. News & World Report
Petition Seeks Medical Marijuana for Ailing Household Pets  U.S. News & World Report

Pets of the Week for Nov. 21 - Chico Enterprise-Record
Pets of the Week for Nov. 21  Chico Enterprise-Record

Kent County Animal Shelter waiving fees on adoptable pets - WZZM13.com
Kent County Animal Shelter waiving fees on adoptable pets  WZZM13.com

Local organization helps ensure pets aren't euthanized if owner can't afford emergency medical care - WKBW-TV
Local organization helps ensure pets aren't euthanized if owner can't afford emergency medical care  WKBW-TV

Holiday travel tips for pets - KFOX El Paso
Holiday travel tips for pets  KFOX El Paso

Keep human food away from pets - WJFW-TV
Keep human food away from pets  WJFW-TV

PCAS using new facial recognition software to find lost pets - WNCT
PCAS using new facial recognition software to find lost pets  WNCT

Le Mars student donates pet oxygen masks to help save pets - KCAU 9
Le Mars student donates pet oxygen masks to help save pets  KCAU 9

Local 10 investigates new technology to save kids, pets left in hot cars - WPLG Local 10
Local 10 investigates new technology to save kids, pets left in hot cars  WPLG Local 10

Pets of the Week: Mikey and Darla - Homer News
Pets of the Week: Mikey and Darla  Homer News

NC animal shelter uses facial recognition to find pets - WVLT.TV
NC animal shelter uses facial recognition to find pets  WVLT.TV

Area pets available for adoption (PHOTOS), Nov. 20, 2019 - OregonLive
Area pets available for adoption (PHOTOS), Nov. 20, 2019  OregonLive

Local vet recommends CBD products to lower anxiety in pets when traveling - WPEC
Local vet recommends CBD products to lower anxiety in pets when traveling  WPEC

Pets Global Launches New Pet Food Line to Meet Customer Demand - PRNewswire
Pets Global Launches New Pet Food Line to Meet Customer Demand  PRNewswire

To Your Health: Thankful for the Health Benefits of Pets - KRCU
To Your Health: Thankful for the Health Benefits of Pets  KRCU

Three People, Two Pets Escape Coventry House Fire - Coventry, RI Patch
Three People, Two Pets Escape Coventry House Fire  Coventry, RI Patch

Indianapolis Animal Care: Call before surrendering pets - WISHTV.com
Indianapolis Animal Care: Call before surrendering pets  WISHTV.com

Adoptable Pets Of The Week: Taz, Popice, Stumps, Bubba, Bruno - Rockville, MD Patch
Adoptable Pets Of The Week: Taz, Popice, Stumps, Bubba, Bruno  Rockville, MD Patch

Frozen cat food recalled over salmonella risk posed to pets and owners - USA TODAY
Frozen cat food recalled over salmonella risk posed to pets and owners  USA TODAY

Residents, pets escape Coventry house fire - WPRI.com
Residents, pets escape Coventry house fire  WPRI.com

Pets on the Plaza: Meet Ozzy - 47abc - WMDT
Pets on the Plaza: Meet Ozzy - 47abc  WMDT

Animal Doctor: Ingredients in collars may play a role in pets developing cancer - Tulsa World
Animal Doctor: Ingredients in collars may play a role in pets developing cancer  Tulsa World

Meeting held on prevention tactics after pets attacked by coyotes in College Park - WESH 2 Orlando
Meeting held on prevention tactics after pets attacked by coyotes in College Park  WESH 2 Orlando

Pets of the Week: Meet Matilda, the badly burned pup, and others at BARC Animal Shelter - Chron
Pets of the Week: Meet Matilda, the badly burned pup, and others at BARC Animal Shelter  Chron

Cold weather safety tips for your pets - Local 22/44 News
Cold weather safety tips for your pets  Local 22/44 News

Healthcare for Homeless Animals pays for medical care for shelter pets - Thousand Oaks Acorn
Healthcare for Homeless Animals pays for medical care for shelter pets  Thousand Oaks Acorn

KPD Animal Control accepting pet supply donations - WVLT.TV
KPD Animal Control accepting pet supply donations  WVLT.TV

Popular Thanksgiving foods can be dangerous to pets - WMBB - mypanhandle.com
Popular Thanksgiving foods can be dangerous to pets  WMBB - mypanhandle.com

The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets Out Today for PS VR - PlayStation.Blog
The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets Out Today for PS VR  PlayStation.Blog

Adoptable pets of the week at Animal Harbor in Nov. 21, 2019, edition - Winchester Herald Chronicle
Adoptable pets of the week at Animal Harbor in Nov. 21, 2019, edition  Winchester Herald Chronicle

The pet industry's shift towards technology - Axios
The pet industry's shift towards technology  Axios

Pet owners should be aware of traps and snares in Idaho - Idaho News
Pet owners should be aware of traps and snares in Idaho  Idaho News

Routt County adoptable pets: Bandit the cat and Maple the dog - Steamboat Pilot & Today
Routt County adoptable pets: Bandit the cat and Maple the dog  Steamboat Pilot & Today

Marion County Pets: Colin, Flip and RJ - WCJB
Marion County Pets: Colin, Flip and RJ  WCJB

Freeze-Dried Pets Are Forever - Slate
Freeze-Dried Pets Are Forever  Slate

Adoption center has senior pets looking for a home - KOB
Adoption center has senior pets looking for a home  KOB

Broome County Humane Society reminding pet owners of importance of spaying and neutering - WBNG-TV
Broome County Humane Society reminding pet owners of importance of spaying and neutering  WBNG-TV

Pups in tuxes and paw-dicures at pet-friendly Fur Ball to support PAWS Chicago - Chicago Tribune
Pups in tuxes and paw-dicures at pet-friendly Fur Ball to support PAWS Chicago  Chicago Tribune

Pets Miracle Network one of 86 grant recipients - Dodge City Daily Globe
Pets Miracle Network one of 86 grant recipients  Dodge City Daily Globe

Gov. Ivey awards $95K grant to provide shelter for pets belonging to victims of domestic violence - WSFA
Gov. Ivey awards $95K grant to provide shelter for pets belonging to victims of domestic violence  WSFA

'They're like children': How to keep pets safe amid record-breaking cold weather - USA TODAY
'They're like children': How to keep pets safe amid record-breaking cold weather  USA TODAY

Pet of the Week - Lamda - News8000.com - WKBT
Pet of the Week - Lamda  News8000.com - WKBT

Local Carpet Cleaning Company Helps Out Our Homeless Pets in Columbus - WLTZ 38 NBC
Local Carpet Cleaning Company Helps Out Our Homeless Pets in Columbus  WLTZ 38 NBC

PET SENSE: Spaying, neutering and vaccination donated to 75 pets on shoreline - Shoreline Times
PET SENSE: Spaying, neutering and vaccination donated to 75 pets on shoreline  Shoreline Times

Pet Health: Caring for your Pet’s Health - WFLA
Pet Health: Caring for your Pet’s Health  WFLA

Edgewater's Pet Mayor, Pax The Goat, Leads Effort To Raise Funds For Local Dog Park - Block Club Chicago
Edgewater's Pet Mayor, Pax The Goat, Leads Effort To Raise Funds For Local Dog Park  Block Club Chicago

Pet of the Month - Thousand Oaks Acorn
Pet of the Month  Thousand Oaks Acorn

Hotel Owners Challenge Ocean City's Pet Policy - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 - - WBOC TV 16
Hotel Owners Challenge Ocean City's Pet Policy - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -  WBOC TV 16

Rabies confirmed in pet cat, Michigan county health officials say - MLive.com
Rabies confirmed in pet cat, Michigan county health officials say  MLive.com

Adoptable pets from Arizona Humane Society and Maricopa County Animal Care (11/19/2019) - ABC15 Arizona
Adoptable pets from Arizona Humane Society and Maricopa County Animal Care (11/19/2019)  ABC15 Arizona

Several pets dead, home damaged in Longview fire - KLTV
Several pets dead, home damaged in Longview fire  KLTV

Can my pet eat this? Holiday food tips for your pets - KRON4
Can my pet eat this? Holiday food tips for your pets  KRON4

Cat food sold nationwide recalled over risks to pets and humans - WTVR CBS 6 News
Cat food sold nationwide recalled over risks to pets and humans  WTVR CBS 6 News

Family says 4-pound dog squashed by FedEx box; pet is euthanized - Los Angeles Times
Family says 4-pound dog squashed by FedEx box; pet is euthanized  Los Angeles Times

Winter prep: Make ice melt that is environmentally, pet friendly - KSHB
Winter prep: Make ice melt that is environmentally, pet friendly  KSHB

Pet store thief throws guinea pig out of fleeing car, but 'Lucky' suffered no injuries - Fox News
Pet store thief throws guinea pig out of fleeing car, but 'Lucky' suffered no injuries  Fox News

Take a Santa photo with your pet - FOX 31 Denver
Take a Santa photo with your pet  FOX 31 Denver

Pet of the Week: Hayden - Lewiston Sun Journal
Pet of the Week: Hayden  Lewiston Sun Journal

Here's proof pets have unconditional love for their humans - KOAT Albuquerque
Here's proof pets have unconditional love for their humans  KOAT Albuquerque

Old dogs, new tricks: 10,000 pets needed for science - NBCNews.com
Old dogs, new tricks: 10,000 pets needed for science  NBCNews.com

NJ pets in need: Nov. 18, 2019 - NJ.com
NJ pets in need: Nov. 18, 2019  NJ.com

18 Bookish Gifts for Animal Lovers (and Pets!) - Book Riot
18 Bookish Gifts for Animal Lovers (and Pets!)  Book Riot

3 pets rescued, Wake Forest family loses home to fire - CBS17.com
3 pets rescued, Wake Forest family loses home to fire  CBS17.com

Where do your pets fit in with your holiday plans? - WTOP
Where do your pets fit in with your holiday plans?  WTOP

Dubuque Fire Department receives donation of pet oxygen masks - KCRG
Dubuque Fire Department receives donation of pet oxygen masks  KCRG

Pet Startup Pawp Wants To Take A Bite Out Of Chewy - Forbes
Pet Startup Pawp Wants To Take A Bite Out Of Chewy  Forbes

Helen Woodward Animal Center: Advice on bringing a new pet home - - KUSI
Helen Woodward Animal Center: Advice on bringing a new pet home -  KUSI

Pets Get An Oppawtunity To Explore David Lawrence Center - CBS Pittsburgh
Pets Get An Oppawtunity To Explore David Lawrence Center  CBS Pittsburgh

Ohio State program helps pet owners cope during grief process - The Ohio State University News
Ohio State program helps pet owners cope during grief process  The Ohio State University News

Wet Nose Wednesday Pet: Max - RADIO.COM
Wet Nose Wednesday Pet: Max  RADIO.COM

Fayetteville Animal Services Hosting ‘Home For The Howlidays’ Pet Adoption & Toy Drive - KFSM 5Newsonline
Fayetteville Animal Services Hosting ‘Home For The Howlidays’ Pet Adoption & Toy Drive  KFSM 5Newsonline

Pet of the Week: Barney - KRIS Corpus Christi News
Pet of the Week: Barney  KRIS Corpus Christi News

Pets with Potential: Meet Kitty - WCAX
Pets with Potential: Meet Kitty  WCAX

Nicholas Pet Haven in need of holiday fosters - KETK | FOX51 | EastTexasMatters.com
Nicholas Pet Haven in need of holiday fosters  KETK | FOX51 | EastTexasMatters.com

KCBD’s Pet of the Day: Meet Smith - KCBD
KCBD’s Pet of the Day: Meet Smith  KCBD

Free preventative care clinic for pets for low-income, homeless pet owners happening Monday - KSAT San Antonio
Free preventative care clinic for pets for low-income, homeless pet owners happening Monday  KSAT San Antonio

Pets of the Week - Clarksville Now
Pets of the Week  Clarksville Now

Lost And Found Pets Of Will County: Week of Nov. 18 - Mokena, IL Patch
Lost And Found Pets Of Will County: Week of Nov. 18  Mokena, IL Patch

Puppies rescued from South Florida pet shop - WPTV.com
Puppies rescued from South Florida pet shop  WPTV.com

The Adoptables: Pets of the week (11/20/19) | Gallery - Fredericksburg.com
The Adoptables: Pets of the week (11/20/19) | Gallery  Fredericksburg.com

Pet Parents: This Is Your Holiday-Travel Essential - Refinery29
Pet Parents: This Is Your Holiday-Travel Essential  Refinery29

Are you feeling stressed? Pet your pet - Nevada Appeal
Are you feeling stressed? Pet your pet  Nevada Appeal

Toledo shelter fielding numerous calls about pets left in the cold - 13abc Action News
Toledo shelter fielding numerous calls about pets left in the cold  13abc Action News

Casper Alums Are Launching a ‘Direct-to-Dog’ Pet Food Subscription Service - Observer
Casper Alums Are Launching a ‘Direct-to-Dog’ Pet Food Subscription Service  Observer

Bideawee Hosts Holiday Pet Photo Shoot with Santa - Patch.com
Bideawee Hosts Holiday Pet Photo Shoot with Santa  Patch.com

Protecting your pets from the cold - WITN
Protecting your pets from the cold  WITN

The best pet and animal related gifts of 2019 - Los Angeles Times
The best pet and animal related gifts of 2019  Los Angeles Times

Former Casper execs launch DTC pet wellness company Jinx - Digiday
Former Casper execs launch DTC pet wellness company Jinx  Digiday

Pets, Pot, Prokaryotes, and Other Recommended Reads - Eos
Pets, Pot, Prokaryotes, and Other Recommended Reads  Eos

21 dogs, 5 cats rescued from feces-filled home in Des Moines - KCCI Des Moines
21 dogs, 5 cats rescued from feces-filled home in Des Moines  KCCI Des Moines

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