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View Full Version : Tips for building a round pen!



Reiter
Jan. 3, 2009, 10:27 AM
I've always trained my young horses in the arena and on the trail, but now that I'm older I'm getting to be more of a chicken and have really come to appreciate the advantages that a round pen can offer. I want to get one that is about 20m diameter and preferably with walls.
What does everyone recommend? Where can you buy them? How much does it cost? Can you build them yourself? I'm hesitant to use wood, because it doesn't usually weather very well, but I'm sure metal will be out of my reach financially.

Bluey
Jan. 3, 2009, 10:43 AM
Portable panels are the best, because you can dismantle them and use them somewhere else later and they will stand by themselves, don't need posts.

There are many companies that sell them and in the end will be cheaper than buying the materials yourself, do check around.:yes:

If you want more solid sides, add that plastic mesh to them, that they sell for highway fencing.
It comes in several colors other than orange.

A size of 60' is the best to be able to direct a loose horse without you having to run all over and not be too cramped to ride in.
Ours ended up at 59' and it is made out of some old 14' panels we had.
We used it also to start border collies herding, so that the panels had many close up bars was important, so the sheep would not get out.

Lady Counselor
Jan. 3, 2009, 11:00 AM
Portable panels are very nice, I use them for temporary fencing. For my round pen, I used wood posts, no climb wire and top rail with another rail laid across the tops of the posts, angled to the inside. There's a rail midway down and one at the very bottom too. It's now 11 years old and holding up well. It's 60' in diameter, with sand footing. I use it a lot. Wish I could afford to have it covered.

NancyM
Jan. 3, 2009, 11:01 AM
If you want solid walls, you are probably looking to build your own, from scratch, rather than purchasing a package including metal pipe panels. If you have the property/space available, it's not too difficult. 60 foot diameter is really about the smallest that is workable, a bit larger is better in many ways. 70 foot diameter makes a big difference, easier to canter greenies in there, yet still small enough that there is a wall nearby should you need it. 80 foot diameter gives more room, but less security. Mark out the size you think you want. Have a fencing company with a post pounder come by and pound 8 foot treated posts, 2 1/2 feet into the ground. You can make the fence vertical, or angled outwards a few degrees. Angled fence will mean that you don't bash your knees on the wall as much as is possible with a vertical fence, should a green horse veer to the outside unexpectedly. Probably ten foot centers for the posts. Rails are easier to fit and nail if the fence is vertical, take a bit more variation in length and angles to fit if the posts are leaning out from the vertical. It's nice to make the fence solid rather than rails, at least for the bottom part, so that legs can't go through if a horse kicks out at the fence in play or in reaction, the solid fence will not allow a leg to go through. 2 X 8 rough cut planks, cheaper than planed planks. If there is any give in the planks once nailed up, you can strut them on the outside by nailing them together on the outside of the fence with some 2 X 4's. Many fencing companies have substantial experience already building round pens, ask around, you may find someone to do the entire job for you.

Another option that I see around here a lot is a round pen made out of logs, like log cabin/snake fence type construction, but not solid walls. Which is OK too, the width of the logs makes for enough space for a leg to not get caught should one go through the space between the logs. The logs are cheap to buy, at least around here, beetle kill pine is free if you can go get it yourself. You will need help to sculpt them into a state where they will fit together, and to lift them into place.

Another option is sand filled tires, arranged in an overlapping pattern to form the fence. No posts used with this one, other than at the gate. I've seen one like this, it was very solid, a nice structure. Plantings of vines or hardy rooted plants will help to hold the structure together. Can be built with a load of old tires, and a truckload of sand, a shovel, a strong back, and a boneheaded attitude LOL.

NoDQhere
Jan. 3, 2009, 12:06 PM
There is a really nice round pen from www.horseguardfence.com
Affordable and once trained on the electric tape horses really respect it. Of course you don't have it turned on while working the horse but the horse doesn't know that.

We have a conventional round pen made from corral panels and only use it for turnout. The panels are OK but even though they seem safe they really aren't. The only serious fence injuries we have had have involved corral panels!

Bluey
Jan. 3, 2009, 12:18 PM
We have used these panels in two locations over more than 20 years now and never had anyone injured.
Injuries happen for many reasons, not necessarily because someone had used panels:

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a298/Robintoo/Horses2-20-07300.jpg?t=1231002928

DiablosHalo
Jan. 3, 2009, 12:24 PM
I built mine with wood and sealed the boards/posts with sealant to make them last longer. After 5 years of heavy use (breaking babies, turnout, etc) it's only had a few broken boards. The walls are 7' high to prevent anyone trying to jump out. I spaced the boards 2" apart so I'd have room to grab and climb if needed. Plus, it gives the horse a chance to "see" outside, but not be able to distract him.

Evalee Hunter
Jan. 3, 2009, 01:05 PM
Portable panels are the best, because you can dismantle them and use them somewhere else later and they will stand by themselves, don't need posts. . . .

I'm with Bluey on this - portable panels all the way. For one thing, if you have a sick or injured horse (post surgery, for example), you can start turnout in a very small pen, using just 5 or 6 panels & increase the size every few days or a week as the horse adjusts to turnout.


There is a really nice round pen from www.horseguardfence.com
Affordable and once trained on the electric tape horses really respect it. Of course you don't have it turned on while working the horse but the horse doesn't know that. . . .

How do you make the horse think the fence is turned on? I can tell whether a fence is turned on without touching it, usually, as I can feel the pulses - makes the hair on my arms stand up for one thing. Our horses will pass their muzzles near the fence - I'm sure they can tell whether it is on or not. I think if you relax & tune in you will discover you can feel the electric fence pulsing when you are near it.

I would never consider a "round pen" made of fence tape as adequate. For example, when training young horses, you want to put the saddle on & let the stirrups flop so the horse gets used to the bouncing of the stirrups. With fence tape, the stirrup or leather or even part of the saddle could easily catch on the tape & break it. The same thing could happen with a surcingle used during round penning.

NoDQhere
Jan. 3, 2009, 02:14 PM
The OP mentioned finances. Both wood and corral panels are expensive. The Horse Guard Round Pen really is a safe alternative, UNLESS you are one of those trainers who are dealing with rank youngsters. But that wasn't the impression I got from the OP.

We actually do not start youngsters in a round pen at all. Ours are well educated in long lines, longeing and groundwork before they are ever ridden so we have no need for the round pen. IMO, this is the best alternative for the person who doesn't want to get in a wreck ;).

As to things flopping into the tape, stirrups get caught in pannels and it is usually a heck of a wreck when it happens. Things don't tend to get stuck in the tape as the tape has give to it.

Evalee Hunter
Jan. 3, 2009, 05:01 PM
The OP mentioned finances. Both wood and corral panels are expensive. The Horse Guard Round Pen really is a safe alternative, UNLESS you are one of those trainers who are dealing with rank youngsters. But that wasn't the impression I got from the OP. . . .

Original poster wrote:


I've always trained my young horses in the arena and on the trail, but now that I'm older I'm getting to be more of a chicken and have really come to appreciate the advantages that a round pen can offer. . . .


. . . . We actually do not start youngsters in a round pen at all. Ours are well educated in long lines, longeing and groundwork before they are ever ridden so we have no need for the round pen. IMO, this is the best alternative for the person who doesn't want to get in a wreck ;).

As to things flopping into the tape, stirrups get caught in pannels and it is usually a heck of a wreck when it happens. Things don't tend to get stuck in the tape as the tape has give to it.

I don't consider myself a trainer but I do help my daughter. I'm sure there are a hundred variations on the correct way to start a horse. She happens to use roundpenning in the mix, IN ADDITION to longeing, long lining, free schooling in an indoor and ground driving as well as other forms of groundwork. So she uses a little of everything you mentioned plus round penning, free schooling, & ground driving.

English stirrups pull off if they are caught in the panels. I do suppose you could have a wreck with a Western saddle, depending on the inclination of the young horse.

For Reiter, regarding price. In this area, a 60 ft (3 m.) diameter round pen, including a gate will cost you about $1,000 - $1,700. Tractor Supply, as well as Oxford Feed, sell a complete round pen (about 15 panels, each 12 feet long & 5 ft. high plus a gate) for around $1,000. The local Amish custom welder sells a much heavier duty round pen, also safer in its construction, for about $1,700. His panels about 6 ft. high, rather than 5 ft.

Simkie
Jan. 3, 2009, 05:07 PM
We have a round pen at the barn that's 5' or 6' tall *solid* portable panels. Best of both worlds--solid, but you can easily tear it down and take it with you. I imagine it cost quite a bit, though.

Nicest round pen I've ever seen was telephone pole posts angled out at perhaps 10-15 degrees, and solid wood sides that were at least 6' tall. That pen was SOLID. Great for working unhandled stock. The telephone poles were probably free or cheap from the electric company, and the wood was all roughcut...I bet it cost some $$, but not as much as you'd think, considering how useful it was and nice it looked.

Reiter
Jan. 3, 2009, 06:31 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions! The round pen is not going to be used instead of longing, but in addition to it. Mostly I want it for the first under saddle experiences because of the yellow belly thing I mentioned above!
I really like the curving outward option and prefer to have solid panels, but it looks like the portable panels are the most affordable?
I think 20m is about 60 feet? Even after all these years of living here my brain is still thinking metrically (is that a word?)! ;)