Lessons From the Round Pen

In my work as a horseman helping people become better with their horses, I often discover the round pen being used as a weapon against the horse.

round pen

The round pen should be a place of safety where the horse can get acquainted and mentally connected to the human; a peaceable environment that enables the horse to be at ease and untroubled as he is learning how to think through requests of the human.

Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, this is often not the case. Instead, I am finding that people are using the round pen to drive, badger and coerce the horse until he finally gives up and, in resignation, yields to the human’s demands.

It seems we have lost the simplicity of what Tom and Ray tried to teach us. “Fix it up and let him find it”.

Sometime ago, I was turning a globe of the earth and the thought occurred to me, “Our planet looks like a round pen.”

Immediately, I saw something else. There, standing in the middle of this beautiful blue sphere filled with billions and billions of people, I saw The One “fixing it up” and enabling every human being, including me, to “find it.”

This One, called The Christ, He who has the undefeated spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self control, was quietly directing behind-the-scenes, if you will, to influence and reach us.

Never driving nor being cruel or coercing, He was, patiently, with resolute purpose and meaning, with all knowledge and wisdom regarding each human being, seeking to lead us into thinking the way He wanted us to think.

In some ways, exactly like I am seeking to do with a horse in a round pen.

He was is saying, “Let go of that thought you are having, the one that isn’t My thoughts for you.”

And… “Come one. You need to search it out a bit more.”

Even still… “That’s it. Good job. Well done.”

Even more…“ Now that you have let go of those thoughts and have hooked on to Me, we can get some good things accomplished!”

What inspires me so much is that this One accomplishes His good work with us from His place of perfect peace. Said another way, in His “round pen,” the environment is not anxious, fretful or angry. No. It is peaceable so that we may also be partakers of the same.

Friends, this is the way we should approach our horses. From the minute, we enter the corral, it is upon our shoulders to be always mindful of the horse’s well being and not so hell-bent on our agenda.

How we interact with our horses in the round pen directly affects their mental state and performance. The foundation laid there – either good or bad — will impact them for the rest of their lives.

Horses relate to purpose and meaning if we have something of value to offer.  Is it not also with us, as humans?

Of course.

So, when it comes to the round pen, let us think again.

What are we offering the horse? Is our intention clear, yet peaceful and without coercion? Are we patiently creating a dynamic that “fixes it up” for him? Or are we being short-tempered and demanding, irritated with the fact that this animal is having thoughts other than our own?

round pen 2

Friends, there is a much better way. If you need or want help finding it, give me a call.


Blessings and Happy Trails,


  1. Kathryn Godsiff on April 2, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you, Charley. Very well said. There’s a lot in this post to ponder, and it needs to be out there!

  2. Brian Brown on April 2, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Charley, where are you living now? The last time we saw you was at the Buck clinic in Corvallis. You helped both Peggy and me. I really like what you said below about properly using the round pen for God’s work with us to fix it up and let our horses find it. Thanks again. God Bless. Brian and Peggy

  3. Donita Elbert on April 4, 2015 at 6:05 am

    Howdy Charley, What a great perspective! I love it! I’m ready to start again, but as you know, I haven’t ridden for about a year and I am hoping you can help me get Star calm enough for me to feel safe while I’m on board. I will call next week to see if we can get together. Thanks for everything, Donita

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