Round pen question

Round pen question

I have a round pen question for you. I have received your latest video about round pen work. I haven’t sat down to watch it yet but look forward to doing so. My round pen instruction and experience is rather low, but I have used it with several horses in the past 3 years. I have been having a recurring reaction from working stallions in the round pen and I wonder if you seen anything like this or if you feel I am talking incorrectly to this gender group of horses.

I know horse’s body language does not lie but, I continue to have a reaction from Stallions that puzzles me. We work the entire process from the beginning as described in Monty Roberts’ book called “From My hand to yours” The stallions exhibit the normal progression of language. Ear locked on, tipping the head in, licking lips, dropping the head while moving. As I pull in my “claws” and rotate my shoulder to invite them in, and they almost freeze in their tracks and begin sniffing the ground and nearby manure piles. Even passing back and forth in front of them, rotating my back to them does not seem to get any attention. I have not been able to get any Join up type of response.

Is there a step I’m missing? Do stallions have a different way of interpreting the rotating shoulder since they usually work from the back of the herd? It does seem that, even though I don’t get a true join up type of response, the stallions are showing increased respect and are paying close attention in work after our round pen time. I’m puzzled. Do you have any suggestions? Is there a particular pattern in stallions that I just do not have enough experience with to be able to identify?

Hope to hear from you on this one. I’ll get time watch the videos real soon.

Steve Wood


  1. Steve — Based on my experience with a young Fjord colt, I’d say you might want to think about asking the stallion to get busy again if he wants to sniff around rather than pay attention to you.

    My colt wanted my FULL ATTENTION and responded to me amazingly well when I gave it to him. Once I figured that out, it was eerie how he could sense my mental state. If my attention wandered, he would subtly ask me, “Are you REALLY the leader?” or his attention would wander completely away. Mares and geldings were much more easy going — they seem to tolerate short mental lapses on my part. Not so my colt.

    I’m thinking the lure of the ladies is still competing mightily with your request to “join up”. When you rotate away from him, you simply become invisible, rather than become a safe object to follow and investigate.

    Maybe you could try rotating just a little away from him and see what happens, but I’d say you need to keep a whisper of conversation going from your end until you form a strong relationship. I’m thinking a stallion needs to hear a soft, “Hey, buddy, I’m still the (gentle) leader of the herd, so don’t ignore me!”


  2. Thanks DeeAnna,
    That seems to make some sense. I’ll give that a bigger try tomorrow.

    The little Stallion currently in our training barn is a Halflinger. He has progressed well even though I’m not getting a Join-up. He just two days ago pulled his first payload and took a wheelbarrow load of ashes out to the field on a stoneboat all by himself. We are not going to get any awards for having made straight tracks in the snow during our unloading phase, but we did come home empty.

    Thanks again for the tip, I’ll keep working.

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