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Effective Round Penning Techniques - Round Penning Your Horse



 How to Round Pen Your Horse the Natural Horsemanship Way


To Learn More About Round Penning Via Video

Round Pen Leadership -
Establishing Leadership and Communication With Your Horse In The Round Pen

Featuring Sylvia Scott

    Proper round penning is not about mindlessly longeing a horse around and around a round pen, but is about the opposite: it is direct one-to-one very precise communication with very specific cues and instructions. When round penning is done correctly, the horse will be quieter, more compliant, and a much more willing partner in all of your other training activities.  Round penning can be an invaluable tool in developing a happier horse -- and a happier rider!

    What You Will Learn
    In this video, you will learn how to effectively communicate with your horse in the round pen to establish respect for your leadership position. The video begins with a discussion of some of the fundamental techniques for effective round penning using Natural Horsemanship principles. Then, these round pen techniques are demonstrated in actual round pen sessions with four different horses of varying temperaments:



Nervous &

Aggressive &

You will also learn about round pen body language, “volume thinking,” controlling the horse’s feet, direction, inside & outside turns, “eye changes,” the 4 signs of compliance, latch-on, controlling the hindquarters, building the “come here” cue, and much more!


Running Time: 71 Minutes
To Order Round Pen Leadership Now: CLICK HERE


In this DVD, Sylvia Scott clearly defines how to be effective in the round pen. Her understanding of both equine and human psychology makes her the consummate professor for any horse owner with a desire to improve their communication skills with their horse.”

Tess Vanattia, Editor/C.O.O.
HorseSouth Magazine 



To Read More Whispering WayRound Pen Leadership
Video Testimonial Quotes CLICK HERE




How to Use the Round Pen to Help a Horse
To Latch On At Liberty
 And How to Then Desensitize
A Horse to Human Touch if Necessary
Round penning work designed to teach a horse at liberty to latch onto the human voluntarily, taught properly, does some remarkable things to help a horse to get past a variety of issues often fast, too, if done correctly! In natural horsemanship we follow the tenet that if you fix the inside of the horse, the outside will follow. This round pen exercise serves exactly that purpose. In proper round penning, we are working on the inside emotional side of the horse to help the horse to learn new behaviors, new expectations and also to help the horse to trust us as competent, fair leaders.

I use this form of "training tool" in a variety of horse cases, such as, but not necessarily limited to: very serious trust issue horses, extremely fearful horses, horses no one can get a hand on, a formerly abused horse, some wild horses, a horse with very big, over-the-top take-over issues, overly aggressive horses, hard-to-catch issue horses and sometimes simply just-starting-out green horses. Not all horses necessarily need or have to be round penned, but it is indeed a handy "tool" to have in your "tool belt" for when needed. The more tools, or techniques, you have in your training "tool bag," the more you have to draw upon to strengthen the effectiveness of your natural horsemanship training program.

I have studied round penning methods in great depth from all the natural horsemanship masters out there for many years. And what I discovered early on was: via taking only the best aspects from all the best round penning methods and philosophies "out there," and merging them, but keeping only the most important and effective features, discarding any least effective or unnecessary downsides, a highly effective round penning method emerged! Here I will teach step-by-step that method: how to achieve the at-liberty latch-on from the horse, how it works in detail, why it works. And, beyond that, I will show how to then subsequently desensitize a horse to touch when necessary, if the horse cannot preliminarily be touched by humans (caused by fear, past trauma, abuse or simply a new-to-humans wilder horse) so that foundational training can truly begin! A great many clients I have taught this to, and even hundreds of emails begging me to explain better how to perform natural horsemanship round penning most effectively, had me realizing we truly need to take the mystery out of this form of "horse whispering" training!

Below, I will break down, step-by-step, how round penning the natural horsemanship way can be done, accomplishing quite great things even begin permanent healing, and instilling greater trust, in so many horses who might need it. We all can learn from each other, so let's begin!

But First: The Round Pen Itself!

Why a round pen, you might ask? Simple: It has no corners, therefore, no beginning and no end. A horse cannot get stuck "ostrich-like," unproductively in a corner (i.e. the horse stuck in a squared area with head buried in a corner, hind end out, feet planted firmly in place), slowing down lesson progress a circle has no corners! Therefore, in a round pen the horse can be moved around at liberty more easily. For much of horse training, especially to teach a horse to latch-on at liberty, we need horse movement. In a round pen, the horse therefore stays more focused on you, the human director, in the middle, and can be progressed along the learning curve far more quickly and efficiently.

The ideal round pen size for our natural horsemanship training purposes here is: a 50-foot or 60-foot round pen. To remain safest throughout this exercise, you really shouldn't attempt this in anything smaller than a 50-foot round pen. And it is not as effective in anything larger than 100 feet. Height should be ideally six feet to discourage jumping, but you can get away with five-foot-plus heights with non-jumper-prone horses. It is best to have an easily opened gate as part of your round pen.

People often ask: Should you have a (see-through) pipe corral panel type round pen or a solid panel (completely closed-off) round pen? The argument that is often defended for solid panel round pens usually follows the line of thinking that: solid means the horse cannot see out, therefore, will make it easier for the horse to fully focus attention only on the trainer, with no outside distractions. I have used both and I have a definite opinion about that issue choice. I prefer the pipe corral panel round pen, where the horse can see out everywhere; I want the horse to get accustomed to distractions all around, even during lesson times, and that allows me the opportunity to help the horse to get past that and learn to remain focused no matter what is going on around the outside of the round pen.

The problem with training a horse in only the closed-off solid panel round pen is: the minute you take the horse out of that round pen, distractions the horse has not become accustomed to during lesson times hit, and you are back to base one with a sudden over-stimulated horse who forgets that what we learned inside the round pen also applies outside! Better to desensitize the horse to ongoing outside activity during lesson times in a visually stimulating pipe corral round pen, and work with the horse to learn how to still remain focused at all times, no matter what is going on outside. This more accurately simulates what we will be doing with that horse later, when riding/working together in the "outside world." The horse has to get used to distractions sometime! Best to go ahead and flush that issue out and fix it within the safe confines of a visually open round pen. This route nips potential future training setbacks in the bud when you do later have to take the horse outside the round pen to work.

Other perks of the visually open round pen:

1) The working area doesn't get as hot inside on higher-temperature days. The openness of the pipe round pen style allows for breezes to come through. This helps keep the horse and us remaining more comfortable during training sessions.

2) If we are going to use the round pen also for turnout, you can see inside more easily from the outside, to keep an eye on the horse or horses, if more than one is in there during turnout. Also, if using it for turnout, horses get more bored and even anxious if left alone in a closed-up round pen than they do with the open style. And when bored or anxious, they then turn to other abhorrent behaviors, like biting or chewing on the walls or wood. Open pipe corral round pen allows them to see activity outside and not feel so alone or anxious.

3) It has been my experience that horses will try to "climb" when under pressure the sides of a solid pen more often than with a see-through pen, because they feel more trapped. And in natural horsemanship training we do not like a horse to feel trapped.

Those are just my own opinions as they apply to my own program, however. In the end, move in the direction that you feel works best for you, your horse(s) and your own situation. There really aren't any right or wrong answers there. Just: opinions and preferences.

Don't have a round pen? Round pens can be bought from a variety of places, or panels can be bought separately to easily assemble together to construct one yourself or you can build one yourself out of wood, etc. See below for more information:

Here's a link that gives good advice about
what to look for in a round pen:
To check out places you can buy round pens
or panels to make a round pen, get round pen roofs, and
click here:
Have you ever wondered how to
Build your own round pen?
Building your own round pen yourself can be just as simple as buying metal round pen panels. Most of the time, it's a lot less expensive too.

The book, "Building A Round Pen," by E. Landers, shows you step-by-step how to build your own custom round pen. And you don't need a construction crew or a fully stocked workshop!

These sturdy and beautiful Round Pen plans are built with Wood fence or Wood and Vinyl fence - you pick. You'll end up with a gorgeous round pen in the color of your choice that actually matches your fencing and barn. This Complete Guide to Building A Round Pen has over 100 pages of step-by-step instructions, material lists, architectural plans, layouts, and tons of recommendations and helpful hints.

Costs to build your own round pen begin at around $400. You get to choose what materials you use and you can even build it in stages if you are on a budget.

Round Pen Plans & Designs: Each of these plans comes with measurements, post placement, gate spacing and rail specifications. Now don't worry, they're really easy to build - you don't need a degree in engineering to have your own custom round pen! You can even build your round pen by yourself or with help from friends. Each Round Pen Plan comes with a detailed material lists. That means you won't forget about screws or string at the last moment.  Everything you can think of that you need to build your round pen is listed…down to the washers!

To learn More About and order  the
"Building A Round Pen"
Guidebook, by E. Landers
click here:
For less-detailed instructions on how to build a
wood round pen yourself, click here:  

If you absolutely cannot afford to buy or build a round pen immediately, but you still wish to do the round penning exercise, though it's not ideal yet workable, try constructing one as best you can out of a similar dimensioned 50- to 60-foot square pen or paddock area by cross-boarding off the corners to remove the corners altogether. This way, though it's not perfectly round, at least the corners are slightly curved and the horse cannot as easily find those spots to hide into. Remember, though, to clear out everything from that pen, all obstacles, feeders, water tubs, everything. You want an empty pen for this! And walk the fence line and grounds examining every inch of the space to make sure there is nothing there to harm the horse as you move them around at liberty.

Beginning the Round Pen Exercise CLICK HERE:  






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