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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 Wed. June / 03 / 2020

Leading CBD Brand PremiumJane Announces Launch of Jane's Pets; Releases New Line of CBD Oil for Pets - PRNewswire
Leading CBD Brand PremiumJane Announces Launch of Jane's Pets; Releases New Line of CBD Oil for Pets  PRNewswire

Pets of the week - Chicago Tribune
Pets of the week  Chicago Tribune

Adoptable pets of the week at Animal Harbor in June 4, 2020, edition - Winchester Herald Chronicle
Adoptable pets of the week at Animal Harbor in June 4, 2020, edition  Winchester Herald Chronicle

Clarksville area Pets of the Week for June 3rd, 2020 - Clarksville, TN Online - Clarksville Online
Clarksville area Pets of the Week for June 3rd, 2020 - Clarksville, TN Online  Clarksville Online

Dollars and Pets: Importance of brushing your dog - The Mercury News
Dollars and Pets: Importance of brushing your dog  The Mercury News

Pet Dog, Cat Test Positive for Coronavirus in Separate States - PEOPLE
Pet Dog, Cat Test Positive for Coronavirus in Separate States  PEOPLE

Pets of the week, June 3 | Gallery | hickoryrecord.com - Hickory Daily Record
Pets of the week, June 3 | Gallery | hickoryrecord.com  Hickory Daily Record

Adopted Pets and Their Parents Gifted Charlotte's Web Free Pet Adoption Kits During Covid 19 - PRNewswire
Adopted Pets and Their Parents Gifted Charlotte's Web Free Pet Adoption Kits During Covid 19  PRNewswire

Pets of the Week: June 3, 2020 | Pikes Peak Courier | gazette.com - Colorado Springs Gazette
Pets of the Week: June 3, 2020 | Pikes Peak Courier | gazette.com  Colorado Springs Gazette

Carver County pet cat tests positive for coronavirus - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Carver County pet cat tests positive for coronavirus  Minneapolis Star Tribune

Are you pet-prepared for New Orleans hurricane season? Read this list to help you get organized - NOLA.com
Are you pet-prepared for New Orleans hurricane season? Read this list to help you get organized  NOLA.com

Sticky weather worries for your pets | Opinion | fergusfallsjournal.com - Fergus Falls Daily Journal
Sticky weather worries for your pets | Opinion | fergusfallsjournal.com  Fergus Falls Daily Journal

Pandemic Pets - East Bay Express
Pandemic Pets  East Bay Express

Heat warning: Protect pets--and strays - KGUN
Heat warning: Protect pets--and strays  KGUN

PACC: Keeping pets cool and safe during excessive heat - KVOA Tucson News
PACC: Keeping pets cool and safe during excessive heat  KVOA Tucson News

How to Deal with Pet Allergies (and Keep Your Pet) - WRCB-TV
How to Deal with Pet Allergies (and Keep Your Pet)  WRCB-TV

Marion County Pets: Alton, Toby, and Trudi - WCJB
Marion County Pets: Alton, Toby, and Trudi  WCJB

What to pack for pets in your hurricane supply kit - WJXT News4JAX
What to pack for pets in your hurricane supply kit  WJXT News4JAX

Pet Network in Incline adjusts operations to save more pets - Tahoe Daily Tribune
Pet Network in Incline adjusts operations to save more pets  Tahoe Daily Tribune

Pets of the Week: The "Nature Litter" - WITN
Pets of the Week: The "Nature Litter"  WITN

Pigs make great pets but do your research - The Virginian-Pilot - Virginian-Pilot
Pigs make great pets but do your research - The Virginian-Pilot  Virginian-Pilot

Pet dog tests positive for virus causing COVID-19 - Successful Farming
Pet dog tests positive for virus causing COVID-19  Successful Farming

How will pets handle people going back to work after pandemic - nbc25news.com
How will pets handle people going back to work after pandemic  nbc25news.com

Pets of the Week at Pasadena Humane Society – Pasadena Weekendr - Pasadena Now
Pets of the Week at Pasadena Humane Society – Pasadena Weekendr  Pasadena Now

Racist comments by Waco pet store employee on social media spark protests - KCENTV.com
Racist comments by Waco pet store employee on social media spark protests  KCENTV.com

Adjustment Period Is Likely For Pets As Owners Head Back To Work From Coronavirus Quarantine - CBS Pittsburgh
Adjustment Period Is Likely For Pets As Owners Head Back To Work From Coronavirus Quarantine  CBS Pittsburgh

Humane Societies urging pet owners to prepare for emergencies as hurricane season begins - KHON2
Humane Societies urging pet owners to prepare for emergencies as hurricane season begins  KHON2

'They were sick or dying’: Waterford Lakes pet store under scrutiny for years now facing state action - WFTV Orlando
'They were sick or dying’: Waterford Lakes pet store under scrutiny for years now facing state action  WFTV Orlando

Some people can’t afford to keep their pets during pandemic - WDVM 25
Some people can’t afford to keep their pets during pandemic  WDVM 25

Dakin Humane Society: Pets offer companionship during pandemic - MassLive.com
Dakin Humane Society: Pets offer companionship during pandemic  MassLive.com

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

Check yourself and pets for ticks as weather warms in metro Detroit - WXYZ
Check yourself and pets for ticks as weather warms in metro Detroit  WXYZ

Adoptable Pets - Ponca City News
Adoptable Pets  Ponca City News

How do pets react to our stress? - WGN Radio - Chicago
How do pets react to our stress?  WGN Radio - Chicago

Volusia County Animal Services giving out free pet food, microchips - WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando
Volusia County Animal Services giving out free pet food, microchips  WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

Pets find homes during pandemic - Journal Times
Pets find homes during pandemic  Journal Times

3 Pet Med Stocks That Offer Growth and a Nice Dividend - Motley Fool
3 Pet Med Stocks That Offer Growth and a Nice Dividend  Motley Fool

Boulevard Veterinary Clinic Pet of the Week: Slade - TAPinto.net
Boulevard Veterinary Clinic Pet of the Week: Slade  TAPinto.net

Unattended vehicles pose threat to children, elderly and pets - KTVH
Unattended vehicles pose threat to children, elderly and pets  KTVH

PACC offers free vet clinic to pet owners financially impacted by COVID-19 - KVOA Tucson News
PACC offers free vet clinic to pet owners financially impacted by COVID-19  KVOA Tucson News

Selective planting can protect your pets - Idaho Press-Tribune
Selective planting can protect your pets  Idaho Press-Tribune

RPG The Waylanders features many pets, and they are cute - PC Gamer
RPG The Waylanders features many pets, and they are cute  PC Gamer

Pet stores in Santee, Escondido cited by San Diego Humane Society - The San Diego Union-Tribune
Pet stores in Santee, Escondido cited by San Diego Humane Society  The San Diego Union-Tribune

IronPigs to host pet food drive | Sports | wfmz.com - WFMZ Allentown
IronPigs to host pet food drive | Sports | wfmz.com  WFMZ Allentown

Hillsborough names pet center after retiring administrator Mike Merrill - Tampa Bay Times
Hillsborough names pet center after retiring administrator Mike Merrill  Tampa Bay Times

Pet of the Week: Dillon - KEZI TV
Pet of the Week: Dillon  KEZI TV

Mohawk Hudson Humane Society hosts pet food pantry - WRGB
Mohawk Hudson Humane Society hosts pet food pantry  WRGB

Local charitable group donates $11,000 to Coulee Region Humane Society for pet health - La Crosse Tribune
Local charitable group donates $11,000 to Coulee Region Humane Society for pet health  La Crosse Tribune

Should you be quarantining with your pets? - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Should you be quarantining with your pets?  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pet spot: Harry is a bird, and squirrel, watcher - Leader Publications
Pet spot: Harry is a bird, and squirrel, watcher  Leader Publications

Pets can get coronavirus, but vets say no cause for concern - Carolinacoastonline
Pets can get coronavirus, but vets say no cause for concern  Carolinacoastonline

Escondido pet store cited for illegal puppy sales - Coast News
Escondido pet store cited for illegal puppy sales  Coast News

Eight-year-old girl tortured to death for releasing pet parrots, police say - CNN
Eight-year-old girl tortured to death for releasing pet parrots, police say  CNN

Pandemic pets: How to take care of that newly adopted quarantine companion - The Mercury News
Pandemic pets: How to take care of that newly adopted quarantine companion  The Mercury News

Emergency pet care assistance for panhandle pet owners - WEAR
Emergency pet care assistance for panhandle pet owners  WEAR

Vets Prepare To See More Cases Of Pet Anxiety As Their Owners Return To Work - CBS Pittsburgh
Vets Prepare To See More Cases Of Pet Anxiety As Their Owners Return To Work  CBS Pittsburgh

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

The Comfort of Pets - Richmond magazine
The Comfort of Pets  Richmond magazine

This is what happens to the pets left behind when their owners die from coronavirus - CNN
This is what happens to the pets left behind when their owners die from coronavirus  CNN

Michigan dog groomers set to reopen Thursday as restrictions ease up - Detroit Free Press
Michigan dog groomers set to reopen Thursday as restrictions ease up  Detroit Free Press

Pet of the Week: Cutie - wausaupilotandreview.com
Pet of the Week: Cutie  wausaupilotandreview.com

Families Foster Classroom Pets During Coronavirus Shutdown - NPR
Families Foster Classroom Pets During Coronavirus Shutdown  NPR

Survey shows benefits of pet ownership during pandemic - Atlanta Journal Constitution
Survey shows benefits of pet ownership during pandemic  Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Last of Us Pt. 2 hands-on: You can't pet the dog—but you can expect terror - Ars Technica
The Last of Us Pt. 2 hands-on: You can't pet the dog—but you can expect terror  Ars Technica

Animal Welfare League of Alexandria distributes 5K pounds of free pet supplies during coronavirus pandemic - WTOP
Animal Welfare League of Alexandria distributes 5K pounds of free pet supplies during coronavirus pandemic  WTOP

Animal Humane Society hoping families adopt pocket pets who still need a home - KSTP
Animal Humane Society hoping families adopt pocket pets who still need a home  KSTP

First-ever national virtual pet super adoption hopes to place thousands of pets - KUTV 2News
First-ever national virtual pet super adoption hopes to place thousands of pets  KUTV 2News

Mass. Pets Getting Seriously Hurt in Grooming Mishaps, Veterinarians Say - nbcboston.com
Mass. Pets Getting Seriously Hurt in Grooming Mishaps, Veterinarians Say  nbcboston.com

Smucker names senior vice president of pet food business - Crain's Cleveland Business
Smucker names senior vice president of pet food business  Crain's Cleveland Business

The JM Smucker Company Names Rob Ferguson Leader of Pet Food and Pet Snacks Business - PRNewswire
The JM Smucker Company Names Rob Ferguson Leader of Pet Food and Pet Snacks Business  PRNewswire

Seniors find adopting or fostering a pet can ease loneliness during stay-at-home order - OCRegister
Seniors find adopting or fostering a pet can ease loneliness during stay-at-home order  OCRegister

Pets strange behavior amid COVID-19 - 11Alive.com WXIA
Pets strange behavior amid COVID-19  11Alive.com WXIA

Your quarantined pet may be acting odd. Here’s how to help. - The Washington Post
Your quarantined pet may be acting odd. Here’s how to help.  The Washington Post

Are you paying more attention to your dog or cat during coronavirus quarantine? You're not alone, survey shows - USA TODAY
Are you paying more attention to your dog or cat during coronavirus quarantine? You're not alone, survey shows  USA TODAY

Veterinarians reveal the biggest mistakes you're making when buying toys for your pets - Insider - INSIDER
Veterinarians reveal the biggest mistakes you're making when buying toys for your pets - Insider  INSIDER

Pet Sustainability Coalition expands board and team - Pet Food Processing
Pet Sustainability Coalition expands board and team  Pet Food Processing

Coronavirus and pets: Scams exploit animal lovers in crisis - Los Angeles Times
Coronavirus and pets: Scams exploit animal lovers in crisis  Los Angeles Times

Animal Rights: Victory For Activists As China Reclassifies Dogs As Pets In New Guidelines - Green Queen Media
Animal Rights: Victory For Activists As China Reclassifies Dogs As Pets In New Guidelines  Green Queen Media

Moment of Paws: About your pets and the pandemic - Dorchester Reporter
Moment of Paws: About your pets and the pandemic  Dorchester Reporter

City Of Buda Implements Changes To Pet Registration Process - San Marcos Corridor News
City Of Buda Implements Changes To Pet Registration Process  San Marcos Corridor News

Arlington Pet of the Week: Sam & Marlowe - ARLnow
Arlington Pet of the Week: Sam & Marlowe  ARLnow

How to adopt your next pet safely and virtually - The Verge
How to adopt your next pet safely and virtually  The Verge

We have 19 special pets ready to be adopted: May 23-24 - SILive.com
We have 19 special pets ready to be adopted: May 23-24  SILive.com

Local veterinarians seeing an increase of pets with snake bites - WBRC
Local veterinarians seeing an increase of pets with snake bites  WBRC

Amazing Glaze's "I Love my Pet" Camp Week 6/22-6/26 - Patch.com
Amazing Glaze's "I Love my Pet" Camp Week 6/22-6/26  Patch.com

Pet Save turning to homemade face masks to keep adoption service afloat - CBC.ca
Pet Save turning to homemade face masks to keep adoption service afloat  CBC.ca

Dubuque to open pet, skate parks, other amenities with restrictions - telegraphherald.com
Dubuque to open pet, skate parks, other amenities with restrictions  telegraphherald.com

Latest Hinsdale Adoptable Pet: Lance - Hinsdale, IL Patch
Latest Hinsdale Adoptable Pet: Lance  Hinsdale, IL Patch

Pet Adoption Spotlight: Pogo | Region | northwestgeorgianews.com - Northwest Georgia News
Pet Adoption Spotlight: Pogo | Region | northwestgeorgianews.com  Northwest Georgia News

Pet Pals: Great Danes Inspire Essential Local Business — TPG, Inc. - TPG Online Daily
Pet Pals: Great Danes Inspire Essential Local Business — TPG, Inc.  TPG Online Daily

Austin Pets Alive! asking for donations after kennels flood over Memorial Day weekend - KVUE.com
Austin Pets Alive! asking for donations after kennels flood over Memorial Day weekend  KVUE.com

Pets and the Humans Who Loved Them - The Wall Street Journal
Pets and the Humans Who Loved Them  The Wall Street Journal

N.J. pets in need: May 25, 2020 - nj.com
N.J. pets in need: May 25, 2020  nj.com

How to Make Your Garden Safe for Pets - 7 Unexpected Solutions for a Pet-Safe Garden - HouseBeautiful.com
How to Make Your Garden Safe for Pets - 7 Unexpected Solutions for a Pet-Safe Garden  HouseBeautiful.com

Get on a repatriation flight without their pets or miss the last flight home? - Vancouver Sun
Get on a repatriation flight without their pets or miss the last flight home?  Vancouver Sun

Local pet kennel comes to aid of victims of abuse and their pets - Steamboat Pilot & Today
Local pet kennel comes to aid of victims of abuse and their pets  Steamboat Pilot & Today

Cats, Dogs and COVID: How Safe Are Your Pets? - WebMD
Cats, Dogs and COVID: How Safe Are Your Pets?  WebMD

The best virtual veterinary services for your pets - Insider - INSIDER
The best virtual veterinary services for your pets - Insider  INSIDER

Virus delays flooding solutions at Austin Pets Alive! building - KXAN.com
Virus delays flooding solutions at Austin Pets Alive! building  KXAN.com

'People are looking for love': Adoptions of dogs, cats skyrocket during coronavirus pandemic - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
'People are looking for love': Adoptions of dogs, cats skyrocket during coronavirus pandemic  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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