Round pen horse training techniques

Not sure where to begin with your young horse and how to educate him to pay attention and respond to your commands? In a circular pen, try working with him. It’s critical that your young horse accepts you as his leader—you are the boss, he isn’t. All of my yearlings start in the round pen, and I’ve found it to be a really effective strategy for acclimating them to people, training them to move away from pressure, and then enabling them to come to relief. Simply said, we’ll turn your kid into a “yes” horse that appreciates his work rather than a “no” horse who doesn’t respect your authority.

Round pen training will help keep your horse from avoiding you and push him to concentrate, resulting in a longer attention span. And by teaching him to respect your space, he’ll avoid potentially hazardous situations like crowding you through gates and stall doors, or having him bump into you when you’re leading him.

I no longer work my yearlings in the round pen because of my other duties at my breeding and training facilities. However, I’ve taught numerous outstanding helpers to perform round pen work. Joe Bob Roberts, my assistant, will demonstrate the training tactics in this class.

We want your horse to know the following at the conclusion of this session and after doing the exercises I’ll discuss later in this article:

• He should move away from the pressure you apply to him.

• He should be obedient and aware of your body language.

• He should desire to interact with people rather than run away.

· He should show patience by remaining still.

• In the pasture, he should be eager and easy to catch—ideally, he’ll learn to come up to you on his own.

• He’ll be psychologically prepared for more challenging classes since round pen work helps him develop his thought-processing abilities.

• At your instruction, he should rise, follow, and lead.


This lesson will need the following materials:

• Protective round pen (45 to 60 feet)

• Nylon cordage (30 to 50 feet)

• Your horse’s protective boots


Let’s get going:

Make sure your circular pen is safe and secure before you introduce your child to it. Check for holes, pebbles, or uneven ground in the footing, and make sure your pen’s boards are secure and free of projecting nails or other sharp things. I like to use a 45-foot-diameter circular enclosure so that I don’t have to trot to keep up with my horse. In a 45-foot enclosure, you can easily walk a 10-foot circle with your horse. To prevent feeling crammed, some individuals prefer to use a bigger pen. Either technique works, but remember to keep out of your horse’s kicking range if you’re working in a smaller pen. The fence around the enclosure should be 6 to 7 feet high, so your horse can’t get his head over it or, worse, leap out when you apply pressure.

Use protection boots to keep your horse’s legs safe while he’s working in the round pen and trying to figure out where his legs are going—especially if he’s a newbie who hasn’t worked in one before. We didn’t put boots on the colt we photographed for this post since he has a lot of round pen experience and is cautious with his legs.

And, of course, always prioritize safety. Be cautious that your horse may kick you or attempt to run you over. Keep an eye on his body language. Get out of the way if he seems irritated and about to kick, and then use your rope to keep him moving. He won’t be able to kick or rush into you if you keep him moving away from the rope.

  1. Put on your horse a halter with a lead rope and his protection boots (regular splint boots work well). You’ll need your rope at this stage. A nylon rope (about 30 to 50 feet long) is preferable over a longe whip since it allows for a greater range of motion. Lead your horse inside the circular enclosure and remove the lead line once inside. You may leave the halter on or remove it. I remove the halter because you may be tempted to grasp the halter and pull your horse to you in the pen while he is learning to walk to you. That’s not what we want; he should approach you on foot. Make sure the entry gate is securely closed. Allow your child to stay inside for a while if he is very hyperactive or apprehensive about the enclosure. This will allow him to relax and get acclimated to his surroundings. It’s time for you to assert yourself once he seems to have calmed down.
  1. Stand in the round pen’s center, use your arms and a cluck to urge your horse to go forward, and if he doesn’t, toss your coiled rope with a loop at the end towards your horse’s inside hip and belly region (holding on to the other end, of course). By moving aggressively as you throw the rope, you may ensure that you’re utilizing clear and crisp instructions. Maintain eye contact with your horse while standing tall and with your shoulders back. Make sure you don’t accidentally toss the rope towards your horse’s front end, since this will prevent him from moving forward. Keep the “door” open to allow him to move away from the rope.
    If your horse does not walk away right away, re-throw your rope towards his hip and rear end, being cautious not to come into his kicking range. At a trot or lope, he should travel around the pen. If he still doesn’t get it that he has to go forward, give him a little “pop” with the loop end of your rope to show him you’re serious.
    It doesn’t matter which way you start out in at first, but as your horse progresses and becomes more sensitive to your commands, you’ll want to urge him to proceed in one of two directions. While walking forward is okay, the energy released by quicker gaits causes your horse to be more receptive to your pressure. Maintain your posture on a smaller inner circle, keeping the front of your body at his hip and holding the rope slightly out to indicate that you want him to remain at the trot or lope.
  2. Take a step back from wherever you’re facing him, bring the rope down to your side, put your head down, and stand in an overall submissive position, back towards the round pen fence, after your horse has successfully gone around the pen for a while, moving off of your pressure and not trying to stop. He’ll be drawn to you by the fence. Allow him to approach you just after you’ve invited him to using your passive body language. If he goes away or his attention is attracted to anything else within or outside the enclosure, toss the rope again and repeat Step 2. If he goes away, he’ll eventually understand that he has to work harder. He’ll eventually get to the point where he won’t leave you and will either duck his head or lick his lips. These actions show that he recognizes you as his leader. When he finally comes to you and stands, praise him and rub his neck or face to let him know he’s done a wonderful job.
  3. To change gaits—from jog to lope, lope to jog, and jog to walk—adjust your body language and the part of your horse’s body that you’re applying pressure to. If your horse refuses to transition from the walk to the jog or the jog to the lope, apply extra pressure to his hindquarters. Move closer to his shoulder or front end if he quickly zooms into a rapid lope and you want him to work at the jog or return to the walk. You’ll then be “shutting the door” on his further progress. Remember, you’re the boss, so if you want him to trot, force him to trot, and vice versa.
  4. Next, request a change of pace from him. Functioning a horse in both directions is critical to keeping both sides of his body and brain working together. It doesn’t matter if he turns toward or away from the barrier the first few times, as long as he changes direction. Step across the enclosure aggressively, about 15 to 20 feet in front of him. You should be actually walking inside his “bubble” or space. If you’ve requested him to shift from left to right, use your rope to instruct him to move away from his right hip, like in Step 2. If he attempts to turn around on his own, walk across the pen towards him and into his space, without pressing him too far towards the enclosure’s side. When he comes to a halt, walk near his nose and urge him to reverse his path. Step towards his rear end again as soon as he’s looking the other way, and if he doesn’t go forward, toss your rope.
  1. Tell him to come to you in the middle of the enclosure, as we discussed in Step 3. We want him to patiently stand in front of you, demonstrating that his focus is on you. He should be focused on what you want him to do next, but he should also respect your space and avoid crowding you or poking you with his nose. We’ll next work on getting him acclimated to being handled and accepting human contact. By passing the rope over his body, you’ll desensitize him to it. Run it along his back, sides, and hindquarters. Keep a close eye on his body language for symptoms of kicking (ears pinned back, swishing tail). Praise him vocally and with a pat once he’s let you do this for a few minutes.

    Then slowly and gently place the loop end of the rope over his head, being careful not to shock him. Remove the rope and replace it over his head, allowing him to get used to it around his ears while you do so. This is a wonderful strategy for acclimating him to human touch and getting him to remain still as you’ve requested. He also learns that you have command of the rope, which you may use to force him to walk ahead, or that you are the boss and should be trusted.

People also ask

How long should you work a horse in a round pen?

There’s really no set amount of time for working in the round pen, but I recommend that you work him around three days: 30 minutes on the first day; 20 minutes on the second day; and 15 minutes on the third day, although you may have to adjust the time of your sessions according to your horse’s responsiveness.

How big should a round pen be for training horses?

If you’re looking for an area to do basic ground work such longeing, a 50-foot-diameter is going to suit your needs. However, if you’re going to be doing more extensive training such as long lining or even riding and breaking young horses, experts suggest a 60-foot-diameter pen or larger.

Can you jump a horse in a round pen?

Practice free jumping for young and old horses. Within the confines of a round pen, horses can learn to jump small obstacles, land on the correct lead, and improve their balance. All of thic can be achieved while the trainer stands at the center of the ring and watches the horse’s movements.

Do you need a round pen to train a horse?

The round pen should be used to teach a horse to come to you. You are a safe place and he will not have to run if he is with you.

How do you prepare the ground for a round pen?

To use wood shavings or mulch: Start by adding a layer of gravel. Then, spread a layer of wood shavings or mulch on the gravel. These materials make good footing because they create a cushion over the ground. But if they go too wet, they can become slick.

How much is a 50ft round pen cost?

How much does a 50 foot round pen cost?

50′ ROUND PEN 15 PH10T Panels and 1 Walk Thru Gate$5,385.00 FREE SHIPPING
60′ ROUND PEN 18 PH10T Panels and 1 Walk Thru Gate$6,075.00 FREE SHIPPING
100′ ROUND PEN 31 PH10T Panels and 1 Walk Thru Gate$9,065.00 FREE SHIPPING

How many panels does a horse round pen need?

For example, a 50 foot round pen comprised of 10 foot panels will take 16 panels. The same 50 foot round pen comprised of 12 foot panels will take 13 panels and so on. Get comfortable working in the round pen with your horse.

Why do horses need a round pen?

The round pen allows greater interaction between horse and handler and more control over the horse because the horse cannot fully avoid its human handler. It is used for many forms of training, including ground work such as longeing and liberty work, or for riding. If may also be used for turnout and free exercise.

How do you break a stubborn horse?

One of the easiest ways to change the mind of your stubborn horse is to distract him from the reason he’s balking. Giving him the command to back up, or pull backward on the reins or lead rope so his nose sinks toward his chest. This gets him moving, even though it’s not in the right direction.

How do you train a green broke horse?

Once you start riding your green horse, ask him to transfer the basics he learned on the ground to under-saddle work. After you mount, ask him to walk forward a few steps and then whoa, or halt. Then, ask him to yield to your leg. For example, if you want him to move left, apply pressure with your outside or right leg.

What is the best sand for a horse round pen?

We sell washed concrete sand which is suitable for roundpens and horse arenas. It is a medium size course sand particle that holds up to most uses very well. You do not want over 3 inches of sand in the arena or roundpen and you may want to start with a 2 inch lift. Too much sand can injure your horse.

What is the best footing for a horse arena?

Angular sand provides better stability than rounded sand particles, which behave similar to millions of ball bearings underfoot. Sand is often one of the cheapest materials to use for arena footing material, yet the hard, angular, washed sand that is most suitable as a riding surface is among the most expensive sands.

How do you keep sand in a round pen?

If you put belting or boards on the panels to keep the sand in, this turns your pen into a bowl that will hold water. If you have to use a shovel to cut through this levee so it will drain after every big rain, you’ll find that you will develop a low spot where the water carries dirt and sand away.

Can you canter in a round pen?

If you have a round pen, everything gets a whole lot easier. Get your horse to go on a smaller circle and walk next to him. Use your lunging whip to urge him to get to canter. The important bit here is the way you use your whip to ask your horse for canter.

How big should a horse pen be?

There should be at least 600 square feet per horse but paddocks should be less than one acre. Shape – Adjust the shape of the paddock to account for the topography, drainage patterns, availability of land and horse’s requirements, e.g. consider a paddock 20′ x 100′ versus 40′ x 50′.

How much does it cost to build a round pen for horses?

A round pen that is 60 feet in diameter can range anywhere from $800 to over $2,000. Used pens will fall in the cheaper category along with pens that are made out of lower-grade materials. High-quality, well-made pens often cost between $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the specifics of your pen.

How much does a round pen cost?

Breaking Round Pens

40′ ROUND PEN 12 PH10T Panels and 1 Walk Thru Gate$4,695.00 FREE SHIPPING
50′ ROUND PEN 15 PH10T Panels and 1 Walk Thru Gate$5,385.00 FREE SHIPPING
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How tall should a round pen be?

Most manufacturers recommend a height of 60 inches. Materials and finish: Most round pens are made from steel or an alloy of steel and some other metal. Galvanized steel is best for resisting corrosion, but may be less widely available because of cost.

How many feet around is a 60 foot round pen?

Round Pen Calculator


Is a 40 foot round pen big enough?

A pen that has 40 or 50-foot diameter might be adequate. If your horse is going to do arena work, a 90 or 100-foot pen will provide you with the space you need.

How do you measure a round pen?

1. To find the number of panels required to build a round pen the size you want, multiply the desired diameter (distance of a straight line passing through the center of the pen) by 3.14. This will determine the circumference (the distance around the outside of the round pen).

Why do I need a round pen?

Why You Should Use a Round Pen Corners stop the energy flow! In a round pen, your horse is likely to calm down quicker. You can keep them moving until they exhibit key signs, such as lowering their head or licking and chewing. Round pens also give the rider a chance to relax.

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