We built ours out of 6' tall portable panels, most panels are only 5'.
Ours came to be 59' diameter and it works fine to direct a horse from the ground and for riding in there.
To tell the truth, we hardly ever use it to ride, but used it mostly to start border collies on goats and for a temporary pen.
The price is whatever the panels costs in your area and of as many panels as you want to use.
The advantage of the portable panels is that you can resell them, move them around, make it bigger or smaller, use them somewhere else, they are really handy anyway, when building a permanent structure you can't change it easily as your needs change.
Remember that, like with longing, horses should not be worked too much or too long in a small area, too hard on their joints, so you may not be using one as much as you think.
We have a 60' round pen, pre-fab panels from a barn company that are 8' long, 4' solid with 24" of rails above that.
We initially had a pad graded with 2% slope and compacted decomposed granite base (called different things in different parts of the US) and 2" washed plaster sand on the top.
Just redid it after 2+ years of use with probably 12+ horses a day using it at our boarding stable. Changed the grade to almost 3% to help drain when it rains, and then put the whole thing on top of premium railroad ties (staked down with 24" x 1" rebar) so the sand is against the ties, not the walls that were starting to bow out. Also will line each panel with 1/2" rubber when I get to it. (Like lightweight stall mats, keeps kick marks from damaging the panels.)
We have at least $10,000 in the round pen for all work, but it is a great pen, gets used tons, and is SAFE. Also has a light for nite and auto sprinklers mounted on the exterior walls that come on a couple times a day to keep the dust down.
If you have the money, make yours at least 60' diameter (70' would be groovy, but bigger than that and you can't reach them with the longe whip!) and build it for the long run. Footing and grading are just as important for a round pen as an arena.
I've had several over the years. I've purchased a preifert 60' round pen for about $1200. I've built my own with purchased used panels at $50 each. I've built one using 4" round posts both in the ground and as cross bars. I had about $450 into that one.
For me, the perfect size is 50' because anything larger, you have to chase after the horse. 40' is a little too small for many horses to lope with a rider, but as I have barrel horses, I've often used a 40' rp without problems.
We've had ours for over 20 years. I built it 20 meters (65.6 feet) diameter. It's a little large for some first uses but it works fine and is useful for all sorts of other things too. You don't have to chase the horse but you do have to walk a little circle. To change direction you just need a larger lead angle than you do with a small one. If we only started new horses in it I'd build a 50' one too. We figured our horses would be seeing a lot of 20 meter circles later anyway.
It's built from treated lumber with walls that slope out so you don't hit your foot on the wall. The lower part of the wall is 2x8's and above a couple of feet it goes to 5/4 decking boards. Between posts it's reinforced with 3-2x4's vertically to tie the boards together. I did it in 10' sections. One section swivels out- with a slide board in the ground to make sure it goes right back in place when it closes-to let the tractor in. That left about a 4 1/2 foot space for the walk in gate. There is an observation deck- with chairs -about 4' high next to the in-gate.
The top board is angled down some to be a bit more rib friendly, but thankfully, that feature has never been needed. It does look a lot better from horseback that the thin edged top board did to start with. I added it later.
Total height is 5'4" which could be a little higher but it has worked well for us.
The posts are starting to show the end of their lives. Thankfully the boards were put on with screws which should make changing the posts easier, but I wish they had "star head" screws then. They will go back on with the TORX ("star head") screws.
It doesn't get used a whole lot, but a fair amount of time. The coarse sand footing that I put in to start with is still fine.
At first, I didn't make the walls solid but left the spacing so that I could go back later and fill in the spaces. The first time a horse was worked in there, she put a leg through the fence. Thankfully, there was no injury but no horse went back in until I made the walls solid.
It's a very handy thing to have. If you look at our farm from Google Earth, you can easily see it.
Last edited by Tom King; Oct. 15, 2009 at 04:50 PM.
Ours is 64 feet in diameter and the walls slope out as well. The walls are solid (board on board) for about 6 feet and then I have another almost 2 feet with two spaced out boards. Footing is the same as in my riding ring - well draining with layers of gravel, then bluestone, then sand mixed with rubber. What really makes it nice is that it's surrounded by cedar trees that by now are taller than the roundpen with a big open space by the entrance. I use it a fair amount to show my youngsters to prospective buyers, as well as for training purposes. I'm going to have to start replacing some boards that seem to "shrink" away from the posts, but then the pen is 14 years old by now.
Siegi Belz www.stalleuropa.com
2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.
Tom King is spot on. Don't leave gaps in the boards. Angled out is by far the best, but not required. Minimum 60'; while smaller may be better for you, it's exponentially harder on the horse.
We converted an equisizer, so I didn't get to do everything I wanted. Best deals from this one:
1. Filled with footing, it's at least a foot above grade. NEVER a water/drainage issue.
2. Lower in center, great banking.
3. At least 6' fencing (looks more like 7, never measured it). Solid. Be sure horse can't see over it.
4. Above grade is 16' fence boards, 1x6 oak. Recommend 2x6 treated below/in contact with grade.
5. Bottom 3' is lined with old conveyer belt (rubber). Awesome if horse hits wall (which they do frequently).
6. Door is a slider, looks just like the rest of the wall. Horse can't see out at all, nothing to distract him and he can't tell where door is if he doesn't remember.
Guess that the kind of round pen you want depends on what you will be doing in there.
For us, we don't want a solid pen, we want the horses to learn to pay attention to us, no matter what, even if there are distractions outside.
Anywhere else the horse will go, that is the way he will have to live and pay attention.
We have a problem with windy and hot, so we want the pen not to become sifling in there and we want the horse to get used to working with very windy conditions.
I have worked in solid pens and they were ok, but for those reasons above, for us here, we prefer pipe panels.
Since we don't get wild in there, we don't have horses sticking feet thru them, climbing them or falling into them.
We have had some wild horses brought to us to start and train that had never been handled, but we didn't have to get pushy with them.
It depends what you want from your round pen, how you build it and you have now many ideas to go by.
We didn't build ours; it was already there, but I like it a lot. 60' wide, 4" x 4" posts and 2" x 4" boards. Boards are attached from the inside, touching each other on the bottom half to make a solid wall, and spaced out up top. The lack of spacing on the bottom has been a lifesaver many times. Whether getting too rowdy and galloping on the wall, or just standing there pawing, feet aren't getting stuck.
The wall is angled out slightly, but I wouldn't mind a bit more angle; one horse still manages to smoosh my foot. It's slightly less than 5' tall. The gate is just a plain old pipe gate and the latch is reachable on horseback and not angled so it swings both directions easily. Gate is big enough for tractor to fit thru for dragging or mowing grass.
There's a small drain, just a pipe going thru the bottom of the fence. You can't tell the ground is graded towards it, but it is. We have to clean out the pipe every so often, whenever we see standing water we know it's clogged. We just poke a running water hose thru the pipe and it'll drain in 15 min. or so.
We add some sand once a year or less.
We also have some lights rigged up to a switch in the barn, for use mostly in the winter. The lights are on tall posts on the fence. If I could change that, I'd put the lights outside the ring, because as they are right now, they light up the ring but everything is completely black on the other side of the fence. That makes for a spooky ride at night, because you can hear everything on the other side of the fence, but you can't see it.
I'd also make it bigger if I could. I wouldn't mind 70'-80'.