Why I Never Use a Round Yard


  Filming for some new videos in a 20 foot X 20 foot square yard.

Lots of trainers use a forty foot round yard for all their horse training. The main idea seems to be for the trainer to chase the horse around the fence until the horse is tired (and sometimes exhausted). In a round yard, every horse’s natural reaction is to run around the fence when he’s chased. While it may appear that the horse is being taught to move in a circle, the plain fact is that he’s just running around the fence.

I always work in a square yard when I handle foals or start horses under saddle. I never ever use a round yard. I make sure the square yard is no bigger than 20 feet by 20 feet. I believe round yards of any size are unsuitable for handling horses and here’s why:

In all training situations, the first and most important thing is to go to every horse and show him that you’re not going to hurt him. A frightened horse must never be chased because chasing him will frighten him even more.

When a previously unhandled horse is roped in a round yard, he’ll be frightened by the rope and he’ll run faster and faster. When this happens, there’s no way of stopping the horse other than jerking on the rope or running him to the point of exhaustion. In a square yard however, a frightened horse will stop in a corner. You can then go to the horse and show him that you’re not going to hurt him. Or, if he hasn’t been caught, a rope can be placed on the horse and used to show him what you want.

In a round yard, every horse learns to run round and round the fence. When the horse is ridden outside for the first time, you’ll find that he hasn’t learned much. When there’s no round yard fence to rely on, the horse will move anywhere, anyhow because he hasn’t been taught to move exactly where the rider wants.

In a square yard, every horse has to be taught to move exactly where you want. There’s no fence to rely on. When a young horse is first ridden out of the square yard, he’s already been taught to move in an exact circle. The horse will be under control and he’ll move where and how the rider asks.

  This mare is being taught to move exactly where and how I want in a 20ft X 20ft square yard.

Another thing to remember is that nobody’s perfect and we all make mistakes. When things go wrong in a round yard, the horse will run and run and there’s no way to stop him. In a square yard however, a horse can be stopped in a corner when things go wrong.

In a round yard, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to approach a horse that’s hard to catch. Such a horse has an advantage in a round yard. He can keep running around the fence and there’s nothing you can do about it. In a square yard, any horse can be stopped in a corner and then you can approach him.

In every training situation, the biggest advantage of a small square yard is that you can approach every horse and show him that you’re not going to hurt him. You can’t chase a horse relentlessly in a square yard, because he’ll stop in a corner. Therefore, you won’t be tempted to use fear or fatigue as one of your training tools.

Read more on this subject here: www.fearfreehorsetraining.com/blog/round-pen-myths-and-legends



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Thankyou for this
It is interesting seeing a different way of looking at things thankyou. Very interesting :-D

Wendy orwell February 6th, 2017

Thanks for your comment Wendy.
Glad it was of interest to you.
Regards Neil

Neil Davies February 7th, 2017

I love the way you work with the horse iv been doing it like that or similar for years in a field no round pen, just being the horses friend iv done all my own horses never had a horse already done and now as I cant ride any more iv done mine to drive in harness and just put it all on them so it don't spook them, So to see you do this I thank you that all these yeas iv been close to being right and those that knocked it well they can see for them selves keep the good work up and may many more follow your way.

ms JO Lambert February 3rd, 2017

Thanks for your compliment Jo.
Cheers Neil

Neil Davies February 7th, 2017

Hi Neil - it's the first time I have come across your work. You make some very good points here and whilst chasing the horse has not been my style, I'd not thought of the benefits of a small square 20 x 20 pen. This actually makes perfect sense and I will see what I can rig up for the impending mounting of my young mare this spring:)

Cathy January 29th, 2017

Hi Cathy,
Thanks for your compliment.
Good luck with your young mare.
All the best from Neil

Neil Davies January 30th, 2017

This makes perfect sense to me.

elayne October 2nd, 2016

Thanks Elayne.
Cheers Neil

Neil Davies October 19th, 2016

Thanks Elayne,
Regards Neil

Neil Davies October 16th, 2016

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