Behaviour of Horses in the "Round Pen Technique"

mitcoleen1.jpg (15K) I investigated the behavioural background of the way how horses learn to follow humans in the "round pen technique" suggested by "horse whisperers" as a gentle method for initial horse training. Though the practicability of this technique has been adequately demonstrated in the past, the horses‘ behaviour during such training has not yet been documented in detail.

In a riding arena, horses, which did not follow the trainer immediately, were chased away so that they galloped around the trainer. Galloping horses showed specific behaviour with turning the ear to the trainer, chewing, licking, and stretching head and throat downwards. With subsequent trials horses needed to be chased for less time and finally followed immediately, even when conditions were changed or the trainer was replaced by another person. This suggests that horses learn to follow in this particular situation and also show some generalisation. However, following did not occur on a pasture even after several successful trials in the riding arena.

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