How to Round Pen a Horse

This training exercise helps with trust as well as ground manners. Try it out if you have horse problems.


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    Have a halter on your horse when round penning (actually when ever you train).
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    In the round pen, let your horse off the lead.
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    Go stand in the middle of the pen. Be a good ways away from the horse. You don't want to be to close. Always stand behind the horses girth line. The girth line is where you would estimate where the girth would go if you were tacking up.
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    Give a kissing/clicking sound with your mouth to indicate you want the horse to move. Swing your lunge whip or carrot stick behind the horse and get him to move. Just try walking at first, then once you get good at having your horse round pen at a walk, you can then move up to a trot.
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    When the horse starts to move, you want him on the outside, on the rail. If he, at any point, starts to move in toward you, wiggle the whip at his head to get him back out on the rail (Don't hit his head, just keep wiggling the whip till he goes out on the rail).
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    If your horse ever eats grass wile you are round penning him, go after him with the whip (this is part where you have to watchful for any kicks). Swing the whip and actually make contact with your horses butt with the whip. This might seam harsh, but if you do it right, its really not. You don't want to abuse your horse, but you want your horse to know never to eat wile working. When horses eat while you are working them, it is a sign that they are blowing you off and ignoring you.
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    If your horse ever kicks or bucks wile you are round penning, smack him once with the whip. If he continues to buck/kick, keep smacking. As soon as he stops bucking, you relax the whip instantly. Let your horse know that bucking is not okay, but not bucking is.
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    To change directions when round penning, switch the whip to your other hand (if you were holding your whip in you left, now you want it in the right). Wile your horse is making its way around the pen, move closer to the rail of the pen (kind of "get in the way" of your horse) and hold out the whip in front of his body, blocking his way. Wiggle the whip until the horse turns away from the whip and goes in the other direction. Relax the whip once he turns. If your horse doesn't turn when you get in the way and hold up the whip, poke his shoulder with the whip. Keep wiggling the whip until your horse turns, even if you have to eventually lightly smack your horse with the whip.
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    Change direction constantly, until you get the turns good. If your horse is new to round penning, only turn 4 times or so and work with him for only 20 min. a day. If your horse is really having a problem with turning, give him a treat once he even thinks about turning. Praise him (pet and love him) once he really gets a good turn. And once he does, you might want to just end the "session" and go groom him.
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    Ending round penning happens like this(well, you can actually do this during the "session" and at the end): Once you get some good turns, lower your head and completely relax the whip. Don't look at your horse, don't lift your head. Your horse should stop and turn towards you. If you have been working on this, he might even come in to you. When your horse slows down and turns toward you, hold out your hand. If he doesn't come in to you, that is totally fine! Don't worry. This will take time. If he blows you off and starts eating or looking off over the rail and doesn't even look at you, follow step 6. If he does look into you, good job! Walk toward him with your head down, and hand out stretched. Once you reach him, pet and praise him. When you are first starting round penning, this should happen 15 minuets into the session, and then be done for the day.
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    If you and your horse have really been working on this, when he comes into you, try walking around. See if he follows you. You might have to tug on his halter to get him to understand that you want him to walk. If he walks to you, praise him. See how far you can go before he stops. But you want to work into that last process very slow. Ease into it. Have your horse understand you want him to walk with you.
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    Once you get your horse to follow you, and do turns right, good job!
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  • Praise is a big thing with round penning. You want to make sure that you praise your horse constantly wile training.


  • Be careful if your horse kicks when you are round penning.
  • Try to always have at least one other person with you at all times when training a horse.

Things You'll Need

  • Lunge whip or Carrot Stick (you can find either of theses from a tack shop)
  • Halter on horse
  • Treats

Article Info

Categories: Accuracy | Summarization | Horse Training