Building a Round Pen

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Building a Round Pen

Unread post by dizzy » Sun Sep 17, 2017 2:00 pm

Rather than putting this info in another thread where it can become lost, I figured I'd make it into a separate thread.

If you're going to do any training w/a horse, a RP is a very useful tool. It allows you to have the horse in a small area and away from the rest of the herd. Depending on the horse(s) that will be using it, it can be very cheaply made. Or, you can spend the money for a premade one, or build one out of wood w/solid sides so the horse cannot see out. I built mine for around $30.00. The only thing I would change would be what I used for rope. It was cheap, and has broken in places. Where it's broke, I've used baling twine to keep it in place. I need to get new rope.

The size of a RP matters. Too small, and it's hard on the horse's joints. Too big, and it's hard to get the control you want. Just like we don't like having anyone in our personal space, a horse doesn't either. Their space is about 20 ft. For this reason, the size that most people, including myself, use for a RP is 60 ft. diameter.

The first thing to do is to determine where you are going to build your RP. Most people can't have it outside of their field, they just don't have the room. After all, that's pasture that you're losing. Plus, unless you're planning on making a living training horses, you don't need it outside the field, nor do you need special footing. As long as you're not working a horse when the grass is slippery, grass is fine. You want the ground as level as possible. If you can't have it completely level, as long as it's not too much of a change, it should be fine.

I much prefer having 2 "gates" into the RP. This way, a horse has less chance of being trapped by another horse. It also makes it easier to mow since you can come in and out from either side. I also have enough room around it so I can drive a truck next to it if needed. So, it's 10 ft. away from any fence line.

The gates should be at least 5 ft. wide to allow for easy mowing. You can also make them 6 ft. if your mower is wider. You also need less fence posts. If you're making 5 ft. gates, you need 26 posts. If you're making 6 ft. gates, you need 24.

The first thing you need to do is find your posts. I collected broken 4x4 fence posts. Ideally, you want them at least 6 ft. long. I have a few that are a couple of inches shorter, so I placed them in between longer ones. If you can get 7 ft. posts, that's even better.

Once you have your posts, you need to remove any leftover fencing materials from them. That includes staples, electric fence insulators, nails, etc. W/that done, take a marker and measuring from the top down, put a large dot at 3", 20" and 37". Then, draw a line at 54". W/that done, in all but 4 of them, drill a hole at the 3", 20" and 37" mark. The hole should be large enough to run your rope thru. I always like to write below the line how much longer the post is. That way, I know how deep I need to dig my holes. On the 4 that haven't been drilled, place a mark on the other side of the post as well.

For measuring the RP, you need 2 tape measures. I prefer ones w/a loop on the end so you can put a tent stake thru the end to keep it in place. I have a 100 ft. measure, and a 33 ft. measure. Determine where the center of your RP is going to be. Stake the one end of your tape measure there, then measure out 30 ft. Place a surveyor's flag there. Using a 2nd tent stake, put it next to your flag, or remove the flag temporarily and replace it w/the stake. Use this for your 2nd tape. If you've gone w/the 5 ft. gate, measure 7' 5". If you've gone w/the 6 ft., measure out 8 ft. You also need to measure out from the center 30 ft., then place a flag where the 2 tapes come together. Continue doing this for 1/2 of the pen. Then, measure for your gate, either 5 or 6 ft. Do the other side of the pen. You should have 2 gates that are the same size. If not, either remeasure, of leave it like it is.

W/the pen measured out, take your posts and put them next to the flags. The ones that aren't drilled go where your gates will be. Then comes the fun part, get a post hole digger and start digging. You need to set all those posts in the ground. I do NOT recommend doing it all in one day. Make sure all your drilled holes and dots line up!

Once the posts are all in the ground and secure, take a drill and a small bit. On the 4 posts that are left, drill a pilot on both sides of the posts. Then, take screw eyes, and screw them into the posts. I don't recall what size I used.

Once this is all done, you will need about 600 ft. of rope. The problem w/getting cheap stuff is it will start to break down fairly quickly. I recommend spending more than the $13.00 that I spent. Otherwise, once you've replaced it a time or 2, you will have spent the price of better rope anyway.

First, take some baling twine and tie it between the screw eyes in the gates. This will help keep your posts from moving. Then, take your 600 ft. of rope, and start running it thru the holes in the posts. If you have a helper for this, it can make it much easier. If you melt the end of the rope, it will make it easier to put it thru the holes. You can either tie it to all the screw eyes so each level is a different piece, or you can run it along the post to the next screw eye, run it thru that, then continue going thru the posts. I think it's easier to do each level on it's own.

Once the rope is all run, you need to make your gates. You'll need 12 bolt snaps. Tie your rope to one, then snap it onto one of your screw eyes. Figure out how long a piece of rope you'll need to go to the other screw eye. Cut the rope, and tie another bolt snap on it. If you're not going to be leaving them on the posts (and I don't recommend that), having 6 different colored cable ties can be a big help. Put one color on a screw eye, then attach another one of the same color to your snap. Once you have all the gates made, your RP is ready to use!

When not is use, you can remove the gate ropes so the horses can graze. Then, when you're ready to use it again, put the ropes back. W/the cable ties on both the screw eyes and the snaps, it's a breeze to figure out which rope went where. After all, the ropes may not all be quite the same length. (Mine aren't.)
Last edited by dizzy on Sun Sep 17, 2017 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Building a Round Pen

Unread post by Farmfresh » Sun Sep 17, 2017 2:07 pm

A round pen is an invaluable tool when training horses. Until I had one I never realized how important it was.

Before having access to a round pen we used a longe line for training and starting young horses. With a secure round pen you can work the horse at liberty, which in many ways makes the job so much faster and easier. With only the pen holding them in and the trainer at the center of their world, they very soon learn to focus on the trainer without the distraction of equipment in the way. It is amazing how quickly it is the trainer holding them and not the round pen wall.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
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Re: Building a Round Pen

Unread post by dizzy » Sun Sep 17, 2017 4:28 pm

I can't use a longe line, it makes me dizzy. W/the RP, I normally have no problem-as long as I don't ask the horse to canter. That can make me dizzy!

I've tried to get older horse people to understand the importance of it. Most don't get it. They don't understand what I'm doing.

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Re: Building a Round Pen

Unread post by savingdogs » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:43 am

Are you my same dizzy friend from long ago?

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Re: Building a Round Pen

Unread post by dizzy » Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:31 pm

Yes I am! Long time, no see!

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