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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 Fri. August / 14 / 2020

PET TALK: Have a paw-sitive transition after quarantine - Chron.com
PET TALK: Have a paw-sitive transition after quarantine  Chron.com

Life-like robotic pets help Alabama seniors during coronavirus pandemic - AL.com
Life-like robotic pets help Alabama seniors during coronavirus pandemic  AL.com

Pets of the week - The Bethel Citizen
Pets of the week  The Bethel Citizen

A Paws for Pets: Who saved who? - York News-Times
A Paws for Pets: Who saved who?  York News-Times

Pets of the Week: Melvin, Titus, Lillian and April are ready for adoption - Long Beach Press Telegram
Pets of the Week: Melvin, Titus, Lillian and April are ready for adoption  Long Beach Press Telegram

Invasive cane toads poisonous to pets - Caloosa Belle - Caloosa Belle
Invasive cane toads poisonous to pets - Caloosa Belle  Caloosa Belle

Pets of the Week: Aug. 14, 2020 | Pets | tbnweekly.com - Tampa Bay Newspapers
Pets of the Week: Aug. 14, 2020 | Pets | tbnweekly.com  Tampa Bay Newspapers

Tempe-based animal shelter prepares for influx of pets due to pandemic - KTAR.com
Tempe-based animal shelter prepares for influx of pets due to pandemic  KTAR.com

Shelter Pets | Valley Life | avpress.com - Antelope Valley Press
Shelter Pets | Valley Life | avpress.com  Antelope Valley Press

Hurricane Planning and Pets - NBC 6 South Florida
Hurricane Planning and Pets  NBC 6 South Florida

Lifelike robotic pets are helping isolated seniors avoid loneliness - CNN
Lifelike robotic pets are helping isolated seniors avoid loneliness  CNN

UCAPS Feature Pets of the Week: Meet Keeva and Timmy T - KTVE - myarklamiss.com
UCAPS Feature Pets of the Week: Meet Keeva and Timmy T  KTVE - myarklamiss.com

Sonoma pets at low risk for coronavirus - Sonoma Index-Tribune
Sonoma pets at low risk for coronavirus  Sonoma Index-Tribune

With 60 pets adopted, more than 140 pets remain at Heritage Humane Society during Clear the Shelters campaign - Daily Press
With 60 pets adopted, more than 140 pets remain at Heritage Humane Society during Clear the Shelters campaign  Daily Press

Good Day Pets – Meet Callie! - KCAU 9
Good Day Pets – Meet Callie!  KCAU 9

Writer upset about neighbor's roaming pets | Eufaula Tribune - Dothan Eagle
Writer upset about neighbor's roaming pets | Eufaula Tribune  Dothan Eagle

Pets of the Week: Mikey, Champ, Emery and Cowboy are ready for adoption - The Daily Breeze
Pets of the Week: Mikey, Champ, Emery and Cowboy are ready for adoption  The Daily Breeze

Clear the Shelters: Local couple speaks on benefits of adopting,fostering pets - kjrh.com
Clear the Shelters: Local couple speaks on benefits of adopting,fostering pets  kjrh.com

We need your pets for Pet Pride! - WBOY.com
We need your pets for Pet Pride!  WBOY.com

Tips for keeping your pets safe during extremely hot weather | FOX 28 Spokane - FOX 28 Spokane
Tips for keeping your pets safe during extremely hot weather | FOX 28 Spokane  FOX 28 Spokane

Saturday is "Check the Chip Day" - What pet parents need to know - KOMO News
Saturday is "Check the Chip Day" - What pet parents need to know  KOMO News

Wait until you see these 15 adoptable pets: August 15-16 - SILive.com
Wait until you see these 15 adoptable pets: August 15-16  SILive.com

Former record-breaking coach now winning the hearts of shelter pets - WVVA TV
Former record-breaking coach now winning the hearts of shelter pets  WVVA TV

Cars for Canines event to provide vaccinations for pets - WVLT
Cars for Canines event to provide vaccinations for pets  WVLT

Pets for adoption | Entertainment | tucson.com - Arizona Daily Star
Pets for adoption | Entertainment | tucson.com  Arizona Daily Star

Getting our pets into the comfort zone | Off The Leash | timesargus.com - Barre Montpelier Times Argus
Getting our pets into the comfort zone | Off The Leash | timesargus.com  Barre Montpelier Times Argus

Progressive partners with Pets Best to help employers offer pet insurance coverage - WKYC.com
Progressive partners with Pets Best to help employers offer pet insurance coverage  WKYC.com

Pets are a doggone good distraction from coronavirus stress - San Luis Obispo Tribune
Pets are a doggone good distraction from coronavirus stress  San Luis Obispo Tribune

Absorbine Pet Care launches new SaniPet sanitizing spray for pets, eliminating 99.9% of germs on contact to help manage healthier households - PRNewswire
Absorbine Pet Care launches new SaniPet sanitizing spray for pets, eliminating 99.9% of germs on contact to help manage healthier households  PRNewswire

Progressive teams with PetsBest for new pet insurance benefit - Employee Benefit News
Progressive teams with PetsBest for new pet insurance benefit  Employee Benefit News

Pets visit caregivers at UT Health - KLTV
Pets visit caregivers at UT Health  KLTV

Readers relate to our dog's blindness - Bucks County Courier Times
Readers relate to our dog's blindness  Bucks County Courier Times

Pets of the week: Spend those summer nights with Calista and Jeff - Bucks County Courier Times
Pets of the week: Spend those summer nights with Calista and Jeff  Bucks County Courier Times

(SPONSORED) Promote your Pet to Teacher's Assistant - Decaturish.com
(SPONSORED) Promote your Pet to Teacher's Assistant  Decaturish.com

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

Pet owners beware, skunk tests positive for rabies in Pueblo - KKTV
Pet owners beware, skunk tests positive for rabies in Pueblo  KKTV

Selma home burns to ground with several pets inside - WRAL.com
Selma home burns to ground with several pets inside  WRAL.com

Can Pets Get The Coronavirus? 1st Dog In US To Test Positive Has Died : Short Wave - NPR
Can Pets Get The Coronavirus? 1st Dog In US To Test Positive Has Died : Short Wave  NPR

FUREVER HOMES: Pets of the Week | News | thecourierexpress.com - The Courier-Express
FUREVER HOMES: Pets of the Week | News | thecourierexpress.com  The Courier-Express

Meet the H & S Feed & Country Store Pets of the Week: Sandy & Archie - KBOE 104.9 FM
Meet the H & S Feed & Country Store Pets of the Week: Sandy & Archie  KBOE 104.9 FM

How to Help Your Pet With Post-Quarantine Separation Anxiety - The New York Times
How to Help Your Pet With Post-Quarantine Separation Anxiety  The New York Times

60 percent of pet owners have planned their summer holiday around their dogs - Travel Daily News International
60 percent of pet owners have planned their summer holiday around their dogs  Travel Daily News International

Robotic pets help reduce loneliness | Local News - Moulton Advertiser
Robotic pets help reduce loneliness | Local News  Moulton Advertiser

Don’t abandon your pet, let the Humane Society can help you keep it - WLOX
Don’t abandon your pet, let the Humane Society can help you keep it  WLOX

Here are some of the pets up for adoption in Collin County for ‘Clear the Shelters’ - The Dallas Morning News
Here are some of the pets up for adoption in Collin County for ‘Clear the Shelters’  The Dallas Morning News

Study Makes Link Between People And Pets Who Test Positive For COVID-19 - Talk Radio 1210 WPHT
Study Makes Link Between People And Pets Who Test Positive For COVID-19  Talk Radio 1210 WPHT

Pet owners call for oversight on pet grooming & boarding facilities - ABC NEWS 4
Pet owners call for oversight on pet grooming & boarding facilities  ABC NEWS 4

DC Introduces A World Of Evil Super-Pets For Death Metal in November - Bleeding Cool News
DC Introduces A World Of Evil Super-Pets For Death Metal in November  Bleeding Cool News

Unity family appeals backyard chicken violation, want birds classified as pets - TribLIVE
Unity family appeals backyard chicken violation, want birds classified as pets  TribLIVE

25 Adoptable Pets from the Overcrowded Cincinnati Animal CARE Shelter Looking for Forever Homes - Cincinnati CityBeat
25 Adoptable Pets from the Overcrowded Cincinnati Animal CARE Shelter Looking for Forever Homes  Cincinnati CityBeat

Employer offers 'pawternity' leave, $300 toward pet-adoption fees to its workers - FOX 5 DC
Employer offers 'pawternity' leave, $300 toward pet-adoption fees to its workers  FOX 5 DC

Claws, Paws & Scales Gallery for August 14, 2020 - Reading Eagle
Claws, Paws & Scales Gallery for August 14, 2020  Reading Eagle

Meet our pets of the week: Cats, a horse and a cur mix - STLtoday.com
Meet our pets of the week: Cats, a horse and a cur mix  STLtoday.com

Alachua County Pets: Nina, Nolan and Calypso - WCJB
Alachua County Pets: Nina, Nolan and Calypso  WCJB

Why the French are 'European champions' at abandoning pets - BBC News
Why the French are 'European champions' at abandoning pets  BBC News

How to protect your pets from COVID-19 - WWLTV.com
How to protect your pets from COVID-19  WWLTV.com

COVID got you stressed? Pets can be a great stress reliever - KRCRTV.COM
COVID got you stressed? Pets can be a great stress reliever  KRCRTV.COM

Many Americans have adopted pets amid Covid-19. But beware the costs - CNBC
Many Americans have adopted pets amid Covid-19. But beware the costs  CNBC

MAS provides assistance to pet owners impacted by COVID-19 - WMC
MAS provides assistance to pet owners impacted by COVID-19  WMC

Pet owners asked to take precautions during hot weather - FOX 11 Los Angeles
Pet owners asked to take precautions during hot weather  FOX 11 Los Angeles

What Are the Benefits of Getting a Therapy Pet? - South Florida Reporter
What Are the Benefits of Getting a Therapy Pet?  South Florida Reporter

Franklin County Dog shelter uses facial recognition to reunite lost pets with owners - NBC4 WCMH-TV
Franklin County Dog shelter uses facial recognition to reunite lost pets with owners  NBC4 WCMH-TV

Maleah Stringer column: Golf event honors friend, helps pets - The Herald Bulletin
Maleah Stringer column: Golf event honors friend, helps pets  The Herald Bulletin

Pets of the week: Oreo is an older pet who wants to complete your family - mlive.com
Pets of the week: Oreo is an older pet who wants to complete your family  mlive.com

Suffrage train rides, pet food drive, live music and more highlight weekend events around Carson City area - Carson Now
Suffrage train rides, pet food drive, live music and more highlight weekend events around Carson City area  Carson Now

While You’re In: Dress your pet, see Shakespeare in the Park, tour the world via radio - The Olympian
While You’re In: Dress your pet, see Shakespeare in the Park, tour the world via radio  The Olympian

Perry County Humane Society wins senior pet adoption grant - KFVS
Perry County Humane Society wins senior pet adoption grant  KFVS

Pet rescue, Agency on Aging team up to feed furry friends - The County
Pet rescue, Agency on Aging team up to feed furry friends  The County

Fido and COVID: What the CDC says about pets and the coronavirus - Houston Chronicle
Fido and COVID: What the CDC says about pets and the coronavirus  Houston Chronicle

Veterinarians see an increase in pet visits during the pandemic - KYTV
Veterinarians see an increase in pet visits during the pandemic  KYTV

Pet Talk | Features | mtexpress.com - Idaho Mountain Express and Guide
Pet Talk | Features | mtexpress.com  Idaho Mountain Express and Guide

Harriette Cole: Dog mom defends ‘over-the-top’ pet funeral - The Mercury News
Harriette Cole: Dog mom defends ‘over-the-top’ pet funeral  The Mercury News

Alligators make terrible pets: 'You're basically dealing with a dinosaur.' - National Geographic
Alligators make terrible pets: 'You're basically dealing with a dinosaur.'  National Geographic

App Uses Pet Selfies to ID Shelter Pets - Bay News 9
App Uses Pet Selfies to ID Shelter Pets  Bay News 9

Coronavirus in pets, French research strategy and a duplication detector - Nature.com
Coronavirus in pets, French research strategy and a duplication detector  Nature.com

Want to keep spoiling your pets during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s the latest in 'pet tech' - USA TODAY
Want to keep spoiling your pets during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s the latest in 'pet tech'  USA TODAY

Back-To-School District Updates, & New Snapchat Filter for Pets - WOAI
Back-To-School District Updates, & New Snapchat Filter for Pets  WOAI

PET EVENTS for Aug. 14, 2020 - Online Athens
PET EVENTS for Aug. 14, 2020  Online Athens

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

Why Our Pets Have Become Super Needy During the Pandemic - BloombergQuint
Why Our Pets Have Become Super Needy During the Pandemic  BloombergQuint

We May Be Doing Our Pets More Harm Than Good - Newser
We May Be Doing Our Pets More Harm Than Good  Newser

Canaan donates winnings to APS-FH Pet Food Pantry Program - SanJuanIslander.com
Canaan donates winnings to APS-FH Pet Food Pantry Program  SanJuanIslander.com

Pumpkii robot uses swappable modules to entertain pets - New Atlas
Pumpkii robot uses swappable modules to entertain pets  New Atlas

Green River Animal Control to Host Pet Adoption Event - SweetwaterNOW.com
Green River Animal Control to Host Pet Adoption Event  SweetwaterNOW.com

New tick and mosquito repellent will help protect humans and pets, CDC says - Fox News
New tick and mosquito repellent will help protect humans and pets, CDC says  Fox News

Austin-based The Zebra becomes first company in US to cover pet adoption fees for employees - KVUE.com
Austin-based The Zebra becomes first company in US to cover pet adoption fees for employees  KVUE.com

South Florida pet store owner accused of animal cruelty - KOKI FOX 23
South Florida pet store owner accused of animal cruelty  KOKI FOX 23

Marvin Jones Jr. Takes Private Jet to Purchase First Family Pet - Sports Illustrated
Marvin Jones Jr. Takes Private Jet to Purchase First Family Pet  Sports Illustrated

Homeward Bound: Pets' Incredible COVID-19 Journeys To Reunite With Owners - NPR
Homeward Bound: Pets' Incredible COVID-19 Journeys To Reunite With Owners  NPR

PE-backed Manno Pro to buy pet brand Doggie Dailies - PE Hub
PE-backed Manno Pro to buy pet brand Doggie Dailies  PE Hub

Pet of the Week: Miguel - Newnan Times-Herald
Pet of the Week: Miguel  Newnan Times-Herald

CBD Pet Products Continue to Be Big Business - PetProductNews.com
CBD Pet Products Continue to Be Big Business  PetProductNews.com

Lewiston pet vaccine, microchip clinic dates set - The Bethel Citizen
Lewiston pet vaccine, microchip clinic dates set  The Bethel Citizen

Wayside Waifs says pet adoptions down significantly during COVID-19 - KMBC Kansas City
Wayside Waifs says pet adoptions down significantly during COVID-19  KMBC Kansas City

Woman ticketed for releasing lizard; exotic pet still loose in Livingston Parish - WBRZ
Woman ticketed for releasing lizard; exotic pet still loose in Livingston Parish  WBRZ

COVID-19 can affect pets; cases confirmed | AgriLife Today - AgriLife Today
COVID-19 can affect pets; cases confirmed | AgriLife Today  AgriLife Today

Army vet finds peace fostering pets, finding them homes - ArmyTimes.com
Army vet finds peace fostering pets, finding them homes  ArmyTimes.com

The Problem of Loving Pets With Behavior Issues - Psychology Today
The Problem of Loving Pets With Behavior Issues  Psychology Today

Key to harmonious pet relationships: Pheromones - Science Daily
Key to harmonious pet relationships: Pheromones  Science Daily

Volusia County to offer free pet food, microchipping - WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando
Volusia County to offer free pet food, microchipping  WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

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