Building a round pen? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-06-2012, 02:15 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: New Zealand
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Building a round pen?

I was wondering if anyone could give me some tips on building a round pen that I can use to work my horse in, it would also double as a yard for my mini mare when grazing my gelding in that side of the paddock so that they can be together but I'm not forever shifting electric tape and pulling my hair out when she manages to escape. I was keen to build an arena but given the small size of my grazing which is only 2-3 acres I thought a round pen might be more ideal. What is the minimum size that you can safely work a horse in (he is 15.3) and what would be a good footing? I'm hesistant to use sand since I dont want to risk my mini colicking while she is in there but dont want it to be a complete bog over winter!
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post #2 of 4 Old 08-06-2012, 02:46 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Australia
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Hey there neighbour (I am Aussie)! I like round pens to be 50 feet in diameter (not sure what that translates to in metres, I just pace it out and mine's unfortunately about 22 feet thus WAY too small) with fences 2m high or higher.

Could you get your hands on some quality arena footing? I like washed river sand (which is basically very fine gravel, so fine it's not ouchy, and it drains REALLY well and has great traction - I rode in a jumping arena that had it as the footing and my horse and I love it), or some people use shredded rubber, or a mix of both. Blue metal mixed with sand can also be a good option but can be dusty depending on the grade of blue metal you use.

Beware that shredded rubber gets VERY hot so if your mini is going to be living in it full time it's not a great option, the heat of it can get so bad that people have burned their feet through their riding boots! If it can do that to a human's feet through shoes, imagine what it would do to a horse's hooves... This is why a lot of people who use it mix it with sand, because that way it doesn't get quite so hot.

My round pen just has a sand footing, which is the cheapest way to do it because you just whack the fence in and then use it until the grass goes. I have used my pen as a diet yard for a pony and had no issues, as long as they have hay they are fine. A slow feeder, feeding straw instead of hay, and soaking it before you feed are all good ways of reducing the sugar intake while keeping up the necessary fibre.

Just as a backup for my reasons for recommending a very large round pen with a high fence rather than a smaller cheaper one with a low fence;
PLEASE ensure your round pen is REALLY safe!!

my girl is 15.3-ish at the moment, maybe 16hh by now, and could have died because my round pen isn't tall enough or large enough.


Last edited by blue eyed pony; 08-06-2012 at 02:48 PM.
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post #3 of 4 Old 08-06-2012, 04:38 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: North Carolina
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I have a round pen-turned-arena that is made out of metal panels. 5' tall and 12' long. It is about 120'x45' and gets the job done :)

Like blue eyed pony said, 50' is a good size. I had a 45' and it was a little too small for my liking. You could go bigger, but anything bigger than 60' is really too big.

Ours has grass footing in majority of it, with a 45' dirt circle and an even smaller patch of sand leftover from building a pool. If I were you, I would just leave it grass depending on what type of soil you have. As long as you can alternate your fields and move your mini somewhere for a few days to let it dry out when it is super wet, it shouldn't get bad.

If you do go the metal panel route, be sure to put in a few t-posts to make it more stable. Especially if you have any straight sections. We added them every other section on the straight parts, connecting them with heavy duty zip-ties.
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post #4 of 4 Old 08-06-2012, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: East Central Illinois
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My training area, rectangular 55 x 65 ft., is an arena by accident. Before I replace the old cattle fencing, I fenced this off for a garden. When they installed the new fencing I included it in my plans, put didn't think about training in this area with 2 eight foot wide exits until I got younger horses. WHAT was I thinking?!?!
I agree with George Morris, in his book, "Hunter Seat Equitation." He said (1st edition, too) that you can make ANY area a training place, and you use WHAT you have, with discretion. When I was giving lessons, I even used a 30ft. wide lunging arena for a lesson with a student who was leasing a horse there. It was icy and the outside sand arena wasn't usable, so we worked on all sorts of skills in an hour, even though the horse could ONLY do circles.
I think if I had a choice, now, I would make this area 55 x 110, which is the size of the arena where I did ten years of lessons.
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