What’s the point of a round pen?
Should we use it or not?
What are some key features of this particular space?
In the next few posts, we’ll go through these questions and more. The round pen is one of our favorite training tools for every level of horse!
Round pens are a valuable tool for every program because they are so versatile! We can do groundwork, liberty training, introduce new equipment or obstacles, and more. We like having the ability to work in a round pen with a rope halter, lunge line, or at liberty.
The walls allow us to focus more on the horse’s body language and to communicate effectively with the horse instead of worrying about steering around an arena. Often times, we start introducing new equipment and obstacles to young horses in a round pen because it’s small enough that they feel secure, but large enough that they don’t get claustrophobic. This space is a safe place for us to connect, trust, and grow.
Unfortunately, round pens are not big enough for most horses to stretch out and the constant circles can be stressful on their bodies and minds. Horses are more than capable of being flexible, bending both directions around a circle, but it is easy to overtrain in the round pen. Horses need to have a change in environment so they don’t become bored. While a round pen is an excellent place to learn a new skill like lunging or working at liberty, it is important to mix it up and change venue, moving to a pasture or different arena to practice those skills.
Stay tuned for Part 2!