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New Round Pen

The round pen (left) is probably one of the most useful projects I have undertaken at Morrich Stud. I got my fencing contractor to drive  a number of posts into a circle 60 foot in diameter. Two rows of sarking board are screwed to the posts. The boards are flexible enough to follow the curve of the fence. Then white tape is used to fill the gaps. I haven't yet had a single pony try to go through the fence, they seem convinced if they run around long enough they will eventually find a hole!

The two gates are hung on either side of the end of the 12 foot x 30 foot field shelter so two (one to the pen and the other to the shelter) can be tied together giving access to both pen and shelter. One gate is boarded so it can be used to tease mares with the stallion.


I start training foals soon after weaning by housing them in the field shelter with access to the round pen. They are tightly enough confined so that I can handle them without being too restricted. Various items are put in the round pen for them to get used to -- such as supermarket carrier bags strung from the posts, a sheet of tarpaulin (as in the picture), plastic sheets and plywood on the ground, old rope, sticks, and then jumps for older ponies. You name it, I'll use it.

You will notice I have a post set in the centre of the pen.  That post is sunk four feet into the ground. Apart from somewhere for the farrier to hang his coat (!), the post is used for training. Some ponies discover that they are stronger than I am and a long rope and a couple of turns around the post convinces them otherwise. I do this when accustoming a pony to being touched all over. The touching is done with a long stick with a length of plastic foam pipe insulation attached. The pony is gently stroked all over. They can kick all they want without hurting themselves and will eventually learn that being stroked is rather nice and kicking is both tiring and pointless.  (At my age, I am not going near flying hooves if I don't have to!). I also use it to start lead training by gently taking up the slack of a rope turned round the post, holding fast if the pony attempts to draw back, then immediately yielding when the pony gives or follows the rope. All this may sound unnecessary to those who can hold a lively young pony, but at 70 I am not going to risk it!

(Left): Aimee working Mistletoe in the round pen while a heath fire rages about 100 yards away.

 


Of course, the pen is also used for traditional lunging of older ponies without the need for a lunge line. The pony is taught the meaning of "Walk", "Trot", "Whoa", etc. before it is ever asked to do it outside the pen, what I call installing the brakes and steering.

I also use the pen for shedding groupsof ponies. It is quite easy to swing one of the gates inwards and let a selected pony or ponies exit  while leaving others behind, either to go back to the paddock or into the field shelter.

 

 

 

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