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Ground Work &
Round Pen Training

So much is heard about Natural Horsemanship in today’s horse community along with ground work, round pen training and its benefits.

With Ground Work and Round Pen Training, you can:

  • Increase your horse’s respect and be treated by your horse with the deference that he offers to his more-dominant herd mates.
  • Have a more responsive horse that is easier to work with and safer to be around
  • Assess your horse’s attitude (and fix an uncooperative or disrespectful attitude) before mounting

Q. What is ground work and round pen training?

A. Ground work is generally done using a halter and lead rope. The rider controls the horse's movements and asks the horse to move in a specific direction at a specific gait, or move a specific part of the horse (like a hip or shoulder).

Round pen training is generally done "at liberty" - meaning that the horse is not wearing a halter and lead rope in the round pen. The rider controls the horse's movements and gaits in specific directions by using natural pressure points - sending the horse forward, back, turn, and stop.

Q. Why is ground work and round pen training effective in gaining a horse's respect?

A. In a natural horse herd, the horse that controls the space and movement of the other horses in the herd establishes itself as the herd leader. Each horse within the herd must establish its level of dominance somewhere in the herd – usually with some horses above and some below it. This is known as linear hierarchy. Baby horses learn to read, understand, and respond to these dominance behaviors from their mothers starting very soon after birth.

When the rider uses techniques that control the horse's space and movement, most horses understand the process and intent. When the horse defers his space and movement, he also is providing you the same respect that he would to the horses higher in the herd hierarchy.

Through ground work and round pen training, you are not only controlling your horse's behavior, but it's mind also. Your horse's deference will extend to other behaviors and situations, making him or her more responsive, easier to work with, and safer to be around.

It is strongly suggested you attend the Horse Instincts & Behavior session before you start or modify your round pen and ground work training. Gerrie can refer you to an instructor who can help you with these skills with your horse(s) in your area.

To learn more, read my articles:

  • A Horse’s View of Natural Horsemanship
  • New Year’s Resolutions: What Your Horse Would Like You To Know
  • Horse’s Instinct: Safety from the Ground

Does it seem that men and women initially handle horses differently? Read my article, Men, Women, and Horses. Riders can learn to adjust their individual styles to be more effective.

Arrange for a private session for you, your family, or a small group – for this topic or the other topics in the Horse Basics Series.

Depending upon your questions and number of people in your group, your customized session might last 2 – 4 hours. Arrange for a private session for you, your family, or a small group.

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Check out these additional Equestrian topics

Equestrian CoachingBuying a HorseOwning & Caring for a HorseLeadership & RespectGround Work & Round Pen TrainingSelling a HorseClinicsVideo ReviewLiability ReleaseBook GerrieAbout Gerrie

Read Articles by Gerrie - Read Excerpt from "Riding the Horse's Mind" by Gerrie