Around the round pen

Recently I posted on my blog about protected contact. During protected contact training, the trainer and animal are separated by some sort of physical barrier. Protected contact can be a very helpful tool in certain training situations. I encourage you to read my recent post Why train with protected contact, for more information about when and why to use protected contact.

Now, I’d like to share a great video from my friend Janet. Some protected contact situations limit the types of behaviors a trainer can train. For instance, if you’re working with the horse behind a stall door, it’s pretty hard to work on trotting or other behaviors that involve lots of movement.

The answer? Trainers have to get creative with protected contact! One innovative solution is to have the trainer inside of a small pen with the horse on the outside. Hannah Dawson calls this “around the round pen” and has some great information about it on her website here.

Watch on YouTube: Around the round pen with Gordy and Garrow

I really like the idea of “around the round pen.” Trainers could use this technique in lots of different ways. For example, you could use it to teach a young horse how to lead or other basic skills, while greatly reducing the chance of pushiness or other unwanted behaviors. For more advanced horses, you could use this as a great way to begin liberty work at the trot and canter. Some horses can get very exuberant at higher speeds and this technique would protect the person while the horse learned proper balance and emotional control. Also, this would be a great way to introduce people to clicker training if they were new to clicker training or even new to horses in general.

What do you think? Have you used “around the round pen” or other similar techniques while training your horses (or other animals)? In what ways do you see this being helpful for your training?

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