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blue eyed pony 08-06-2012 02:33 PM

PLEASE ensure your round pen is REALLY safe!!
OK after a bit of a disaster a couple of days ago in which I suspect my TB may have caused herself a hairline fracture in her neck, I have been busily repairing my round pen... but I feel that it's important to let people know about this danger in apparently safe round pens!!

Firstly, this is my round pen:

As you can see, it's made of very thick posts (these are usually used to hang gates and to set the tension on high-tensile wire fences) and rails. It's a very good round pen and I used it for over a year, with horses from 12hh to 16.2hh and temperaments from quiet to troubled, with no issues.

However, a couple of days ago, I was round penning my filly, and she decided she wasn't going to go in the direction I was asking. I blocked off her option to go forward, allowing her the option to turn around or cut through the middle of the round pen. She took neither, instead trying to jump out, but took off far too close and couldn't get the height in time. She caught her front legs and went over the top, breaking one of those huge posts. And, like I said, I suspect she may have a hairline fracture in one of her neck vertebrae - either C1 or C2, the swelling and heat is very close to her head.

What is wrong with this round pen is that the fence is not tall enough, so she thought she physically COULD jump out, and the round pen itself is not large enough at only around 22ft diameter. It's the perfect size for ponies, and a large horse can w/t/c in it in a balanced manner, but it's too small for a large horse that's in panic mode.

So please PLEASE ensure your round pen is fenced with strong fencing at least 7 foot high, and is at least 50 feet in diameter. My girl could very easily have died the other day... I would hate for this to happen to someone else. Magic and I were incredibly lucky that it wasn't worse, and every time there is an accident similar to this there is a very high chance of serious injury or even death for the poor horse involved.

mls 08-06-2012 02:43 PM


Originally Posted by blue eyed pony (Post 1633054)
So please PLEASE ensure your round pen is fenced with strong fencing at least 7 foot high, and is at least 50 feet in diameter.

I disagree. Round pens do not need to be seven feet high. ANY daylight will allow a horse in flight mode to think it run can through or jump over. These things happen and it is unfortunate.

blue eyed pony 08-06-2012 02:51 PM

Yes - but they're less likely to flip over the top of it and land on their head/neck :/

Corporal 08-06-2012 03:17 PM

Honestly, with the price of lumber I think it would have cheaper to buy metal round pen panels. I'm so sorry that your TB got hurt. Do your horses get to spend any time in the round pen besides training? Mine do, and they are VERY comfortable eating in it AND training/riding in my square 55 x 65' training area. Perhaps some time spent getting your horse relaxed in your round pen would help prevent this from happening again. Still, I'm VERY sorry for your accident--wouldn't wish harm on ANYBODY's horse. **hugs**

blue eyed pony 08-06-2012 03:26 PM

My TB lived in that round pen for nearly a week, Corporal, because she came to me nearly untouchable. Had I put her in a stall she would have gone insane, had I put her in a pasture I would never have been able to touch her again. She was totally relaxed with the idea of being in the round pen.

I pushed when I should have backed off, and I didn't push hard, just closed off the option of forward while making sure she could turn around or cut across the round pen easily... but her panic that I would beat her for her "disobedience" made her unable to think, and I think she saw the possibility of escape over the round pen fence before she could think about a less risky way.

She DID go over the "weak link" in my round pen fence, which is a big farm gate that is actually stronger/more solid than any other part of the round pen but doesn't LOOK as substantial...

I have decided I am going to save up for enough portable panels to build a lovely big round pen. We don't own the property or we would have ripped out the current round pen and replaced it with a bigger one, but portable panels are an ideal solution because we can take them with us if/when we move.

smrobs 08-06-2012 03:37 PM

I am sorry that your horse got hurt, but I have to agree with mls. Anywhere daylight can be seen is a place where a panicked horse will look for an exit. IMHO, unless you are consistently riding really tall horses (like 17hh+), I honestly don't see the need for a 7 foot roundpen. Taking the time needed to help get the horse comfortable before pushing on them can help to prevent a lot of the escape attempts. My roundpen fence is 6' tall, heavy duty pipe panels and I've only ever had one horse try to go through it(not over it). She ended up just knocking a couple of panels down with no injury to herself.

So long as the fence is tall enough where the horse can't easily get their head over it, they generally won't try to jump it. Truthfully, yours doesn't look any taller than 5 feet at the most, though it is likely closer to 4 or 4.5. Along that same line, I'm not a fan of fences that are made from 1-2 rails only. IME, it seems like the more space there is between the rails, the less substantial the fence looks (regardless of how strong the posts are), and the more horses think they have a change of getting out through it. IMHO, a fence is more of a blind than anything. Generally speaking, it doesn't have to be all that strong, it just has to make the horse think "There's no way I'd get through that".

You see, here is a huge difference in a fence as tall as yours and a fence as tall as mine

Corporal 08-06-2012 03:38 PM

Again, SORRY that your TB got hurt. I agree with the panels being portable. I'm using 3 and a gate for a 12 x 12 stall in my barn right now. I don't get how these horses get sold practically wild, like your description. IMO, she was probably gonna hurt you or herself that day--GLAD it wasn't you!!

blue eyed pony 08-06-2012 03:48 PM

She likely will be over 17hh. Horses from her sire are known to be late maturers, and she's already very nearly 16hh. Plus, better too much than not enough... JMO.

If 7 foot is over the top, and no horse will attempt to jump something taller than their head, then what about a horse, whose owner I know online, who you can't keep in with an 8 foot fence? Never any fence damage, fence is mesh, horse is never injured, and gates are never open. Unless said mare jumps the gates, but I don't know anyone who would bother with an 8 foot high fence and only have a 4 foot high gate (4 foot is about standard height for a farm gate here)...

ETA; she wasn't close to me when she flipped, I was in no danger at all of getting hurt, and she had nothing on her head with which she could pull me, or with which I could attempt to control her. I very rarely have anything on their heads with them in the round pen, and have never had an issue before now. Nobody has bothered to test it, except the buckskin filly when she was still small enough to fit between the rails.

smrobs 08-06-2012 03:53 PM

I didn't say that no horse with ever attempt it, I said they usually don't. It simply isn't in their nature to try to jump things taller than their head can easily reach. But, you do occasionally find a horse that is determined to do everything against their nature.

blue eyed pony 08-06-2012 03:57 PM

True, yes, true.

I want that mare as a showjumper, but her owner loves her way too much to sell her and she's like 19 now and never been trained in SJ so it's not likely!

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