Round Pen Training…Developing The Foundation Of Trust

Today we finally have a bit of a break from the rain and blustery wind…make that a deluge of rain and dreary gray weather…I know I know…blah and blah…grumble and complain.  The rain has kept me indoors the last week cleaning of all silly things, so I took a break one day and sorted through some old pictures on my back up drive…it was fun to look back on lots of good memories…good people…good times and good horses of course:)

March’s last week of blahsay (is that a word?) weather was much like the day in this photo…wet…cold…gray…and dreary. This picture was taken a few years ago in the round corral…Cowboy son had come home to visit for the weekend and while he was here, he wanted to work with Fanny Annie. He was working on desensitization with Annie, which is important as it begins to lay the foundation of trust. She is learning to trust in her human no matter if the plastic sack is scary or not…

This teaches her inner trust in us so that when anything unexpected happens on the trail or anywhere we go when we ride her, she will not freak out being triggered into the fear or flight instinct. As he asks her to move about, he is watching her body language…looking for the try in her to trust him…waiting for her to turn towards him with two eyes…instead of her hindquarters, which is a lack of respect.

He had a ways to go yet with her as she is yet turning away from him. As we waited and watched you could feel the rain coming as the air was heavy with mist and a feeling of ominous blahsay…it has to be a word, as it fits the dreary day!

He continues to move her feet about…it is not mean if it is done right…she is learning that her world is safe with her human leader…just as it would be in the wild with her herd…ultimately she is learning to trust. Horses are born with the biological fear or flight mechanism…it is what kept them alive for centuries. In the wild when a predator approaches, the lead horse in the pack will alert the herd to move out if danger invades their world.

We humans want to ride our horses like no big deal…but unless we first develop trust with them or a very good trainer does it before we purchase the horse…we likely will deal with a spooky jumpy horse and be upset or worse, either the horse gets hurt or we do or we both do. A good foundation is a must when you raise horses and if you purchase one then you need to be sure that the horse has been given a good foundation of trust and consistency. And remember if for some reason you end up with a horse that is not so great…it is not the horses fault…they are doing what their natural instinct says, “fear for your life horse”…and that would be due to lack of foundational training…with daily training and relationship. We would not expect to buy a lion and bring it home for a house kitty…and expect it to be fine to play or cuddle with us…horses are the same way…they are much more vulnerable to pain caused by humans as the human did not know or understand the horse.

All horses want to get along but if they have been abused and if they have not been handled correctly or right…then they are spooky and fighting for their lives…they do not know if we are safe or not until we begin with them from the beginning. By the way I refresh my well-trained older horses in the round corral if needed…often both of us need it:)

Here Cowboy is touching Annie softly on her shoulder area asking her if she will settle in with him but she is still tight and tense…not quite ready to listen…

He continued by moving her off again…in the direction he asks…always when you work your horses, if you ask them to go to the right and they go to the left…you stop them and turn them back to the right…they must go the way you ask…again this is good communication and respect.

Annie is beginning to settle…she is facing him and you can see in her eyes that she is thinking…she wants to hook on to Cowboy…the first step that all is well and  she is safe. “Annie will you hook on to me now and follow me?”

For the sake of your eyes and boredom, unless you have horses, I fast forwarded the process and the pictures a bit 🙂

Ry is in the corral now as he listens how to connect to Annie, as she is looking for that sign of trust that Ry is safe too.

Touching Annie on her forehead is reassuring to her that all is well.

I have found that horses have a bond with children that is hard to explain…they are very soft with kids.

Dropping down to her level…we are showing her we are not over her but we are partners in this relationship and as partners you will be the safe leader…submission and trust are critical in your relationship with your horse.

Still working on trust here but making good progress.

Incredibly beautiful…as this is the moment when trust is being given between horse and human…see how Annie is looking at Cowboy…when your horse gives you their trust it is a sacred relationship.

One of my favorite pictures of Annie and Ry…she is such a sweet girl…and he is becoming such a cowboy too:)

That rainy gray morning…Annie gave her heart with her trust…she relaxed…joined in and  became soft.

The lesson ended with Annie introducing herself to Bo-Bo…he is the best dog…and father to our dog Dasher.

From here on we continued to develop Annie’s trust. The most important part of the relationship with your horse whether young or old is consistency…that is the key to the whole deal of your horses knowing that they are safe in this life with you:)

No more blahsay…hoping for a sunshiny today…is that the right spelling for sunshiny??? It is a word right?


“Monday Monday, so good to me,
Monday Monday, it was all I hoped it would be”.

A bit of help from the Mama’s and Papa’s.

25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. fiztrainer
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 18:56:50

    WOW … I’m so glad I came across your blog. I love it. My daughter is a barrel racer and has educated me a lot about horses. She just recently came to own her own horse. He’s only a couple years old and she is building some trust with him (no where near on the level described here). I find horses to be so incredibly amazing animals. I never, ever do this, but I just put a video on my blog about Klaus Ferdinand (I’m sure you’ve heard of him). The video is so beautifully put together. If you’re interested, it’s at Honestly, I NEVER do this. But, after looking at your blog, I thought you may find it to be really beautiful. In any case, thanks so much for sharing your amazing experiences. 😀



    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Apr 06, 2012 @ 21:06:07

      Thank you so much:) I would to be a student of Klaus for a year or for a weekend…he truly is amazing and is truly a student of the horse….I do not have the video on top of my mind but look up Stacey Westfall too…she has some incredible videos of riding her horses bareback with no bridle in her reining events….first time I saw her video of that I cried…also Clinton Anderson has some good videos of dancing with his horses too…saw him do this in person…it was a top ten and so connected. I am still learning too…have ridden horses since I was little little but it was about 15 years ago that I began to learn how to become truly one with my horse…they are incredibly awesome and spiritual animals…I know that there are horses in heaven:) God loves to ride them too:) I am glad you and your daughter are currently learning the true relationship between your horse and your heart:)



  2. weisserwatercolours
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 12:09:31

    I really benefitted from this careful explanation, with photos. Thank you so much.



  3. emjayandthem
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 17:16:37

    beautiful; your images and narration of the trust unfolding was just lovely to witness.




  4. onespoiledcat
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 07:58:29

    What an interesting blog today! Amazing to hear the inside scoop on the foundation of trust and how you get to that moment in time. Lovely photos to accompany the story and I feel like I was an observer during the process. Very moving too…….

    Pam (and Sam)



    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 08:02:50

      Thank you Pam and Sam:) Minnie says oh Mom be sure to tell Sam Meowy Hi…she is on my lap as I write:) Yes the bond that develops between horses and their owners is deep…when they trust you in a sense they are putting their lives in your hands and giving up the fear and flight…it is very humbling to feel. I love connecting in spirit and mind with my horses:)



  5. Tricia Booker Photography
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 06:18:39

    Very nice documentation of that joining up moment! You captured the trust in her eyes beautifully!



  6. Heather @ SugarDish(Me)
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 05:11:00

    Blahsay is totally a word. This is beautiful.



  7. Dianna
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 18:34:02

    This is beautiful. Since I have no experience with horses, this was all new to me. I love your photos!



  8. jesusknowsmyname
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 12:15:21

    Very informative, and I enjoyed the process in photos. Made me think of the “Horse Whisperer”. I do like horses, I think they are such beautiful animals. I took care of my brother’s Quarter horse when he went off to the Army. I was able to brush the horse as he lay on the ground, do you think he trusted me?



  9. michaeltuuk
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 11:27:13

    Great stuff. Reminds me of watching a guy named Lew Sterrett do something he calls the Sermon on the Mount (pun intended of course). Among other things, he does round pen training with a completely unbroken horse which would just as soon kick him across the pen. He talks through all the same things — fear, gaining respect and trust — and goes round and round getting the horse to go the direction asked, turn to him (both eyes), take a step toward him, etc. Amazing how you all work with a horse.



    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Apr 02, 2012 @ 11:54:19

      Thank you…I have heard of Lew Sterrett before…I found his web site just now and he sounds amazing. I would have loved watching the round pen lesson…horses are amazing and it is truly the relationship…I love seeing the change in a horse. You must have horses or? Thank you for stopping in:)



  10. tbnranch
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 10:56:45

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your round pen!



  11. campfireshadows
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 10:24:10

    I love reading your post! I look forward to each one. Thank you for letting us into your ranch life 🙂



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