07-13-2011, 11:14 PM
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Iride said it very well. If you are planning to do a lot of work that requires room like working cattle or loping a lot under saddle, then I would go ahead with 60'. If you are training green horses, I like something quite a bit smaller, mine is probably 40-45' and plenty big for greenies.
I am a huge fan of the steel panels because they last longer, require less maintenance, and you can pick them up and move them easily if you need to, plus you don't have to worry as much about injury from a horse kicking out a plank and leaving a jagged wooden harpoon sticking out for someone to get impaled on. As for height, I like mine at 6' tall. The easier a horse can get his head over it, the more likely they are to try jumping out (talking about unhandled and/or green horses here).
About the footing, sand is great if you can get it. I just put the round pen up and whatever type of ground happens to be there is the footing that I use. But, I just use it for starting green horses and they don't spend a whole lot of time in there.