Purchasing a Round Pen: Everything You Need to Know
Considered a staple for many equestrians, round pens can provide incredible training opportunities for horses of all ages. However, like any large piece of equipment, round pens require a significant investment. Because of this, it is important to diligently research the type of round pen that would be best for you and your horses.
What should you look for when buying a round pen? There are several things to look for when you are buying a round pen for your horses. The most important thing to consider will be the desired size of the pen. Many round pens have a diameter of 60 feet. Other factors to consider include the material of the pen, type of footing you will use, and the location of the pen on your property.
By researching the various types of pens, footing materials, and size options, you will be able to decide on a round pen that is best suited for your needs. In this post, I will share what you need to know about buying a round pen, and some of the greatest benefits of using a round pen for training your horses.
Choosing The Right Size Round Pen For Your Horse
The first thing you will need to decide before buying a round pen for your horse is how big the pen should be. Most round pens are around 60 feet in diameter. However, pens can range anywhere from 40 feet in diameter to over 120 feet in diameter, depending on your needs.
For example, if you are planning on only using the round pen for lunging your horse, a pen that is 50 feet in diameter will likely be sufficient. Many equestrians find that round pens are a great place to ride their horse while training. If you think you may train your horse in this way, you will need to invest in a pen that is larger. For riding purposes, a pen that is between 60 feet to 80 feet in diameter would be appropriate.
Another factor to consider before you choose a size for your pen is the size of your horse. If the horses that will be using the round pen are larger, a larger pen will be more suited to their needs. On the other hand, you may have trouble training smaller horses in a pen that is too large for them. Take your horses’ unique needs into account before deciding on what size pen you need to purchase.
One of the benefits of investing in a round pen is that they can be flexible. Depending on the location where it is set up, and the type of round pen you have, you may be able to add or remove sections from the pen. This allows you to increase or decrease the size according to your changing needs as an equestrian.
Benefits of Buying a Round Pen
Ask any equestrian why they love round pens and they will be able to provide you with an extensive list. There are many ways in which a round pen benefits both the horse and their rider!
One of the primary benefits of round pens is that they allow you to easily work your horse in a controlled environment. By doing so, you can observe their physical and behavioral tendencies. This allows you to provide training that is targeted to areas in which they can improve.
Many equestrians also like to use round pens for training while riding. The smaller environment allows them to focus on making small changes in technique. Additionally, round pens provide an excellent space for beginner riders to learn horsemanship skills.
In addition to the training benefits that round pens provide, they also provide a non-threatening space in which you can bond with your horse. From grooming and saddling to playing games, this space will quickly become a favorite for both horse and rider.
If you’d like to learn how to lunge a horse in a round pen, you can read my guide here.
Horse Round Pen Cost
A round pen is a financial investment in both yourself and your horse. Many riders believe that a round pen is one of the most important pieces of equipment in which to invest! The cost of your round pen will vary based on the material you choose to use, the size of your pen, and your geographical location.
Additionally, not all pen panels are the same size. It is safe to assume that most panels will be available in either 10-foot or 12-foot sections. However, make sure to take note of the length of the panels you decide to purchase.
Calculating the Diameter for a Round Pen
The first step to reaching an estimate for your round pen is determining how many panels you will need. This requires a bit of math. There are several websites that will quickly do these calculations for you. However, the math is not difficult!
Since 60 feet in diameter is the most common round pen size, we will use that for this example. You will first multiply your desired diameter by 3.14. This will determine the pen’s circumference. The total diameter of your pen will be 188.4.
Next, you will divide the circumference (188.4) by the length of the panels you plan on using for your pen. For this example, we will use 10-foot panels. Dividing 188.4 by 10 gives you an answer of 18.84. This is the number of panels you will need for your round pen!
Of course, your calculations will not provide you with a round number. In this example, you would round up, purchasing a total of 19 panels. You will also need to add a gate piece. The length of this piece will vary but be sure to account for that in your calculations.
After determining how many panels you will need to construct your round pen, you will be able to begin looking for a good deal. A round pen that is 60 feet in diameter can range anywhere from $800 to over $2,000. Used pens will fall in the cheaper category along with pens that are made out of lower-grade materials. High-quality, well-made pens often cost between $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the specifics of your pen.
With proper care and maintenance, you will be able to continue using your round pen for decades. Because of this, it is wise to invest in a high-quality pen made of good material if it is possible. Additionally, round pens that are well cared for often have great resale value in the event that your needs change down the road.
Types of Round Pens for Horses
There are two common types of materials that are used to make round pens. Wood posts and rails and steel pipe panels both have unique advantages and disadvantages.
Wooden Posts and Rails
A round pen constructed using wooden posts and rails is likely the cheapest option. Wooden posts and rails are also flexible, a benefit if your horse falls against them. However, when the rails are under extreme pressure, they can break. This has the potential to greatly injure both horse and rider.
One of the greatest disadvantages of using wooden posts and rails for your round pen is the lack of flexibility. Wooden posts must be buried in the ground, meaning you will be unable to easily alter the size of your pen if your needs change. Wood may also require more extensive maintenance such as painting, staining, or priming to keep the pen in top condition.
Steel Pipe Panels
Available in a variety of finishes, heights, lengths, and styles, steel pipe panels are the most popular choice for round pens. Although they require a larger investment, the ease of assembly and versatility makes the cost well worth it.
Steel pipe panels are not flexible like wood rails. Because of this, they will not give if you or your horse has an accident. Most steel pipe panels have been upgraded to add safety features such as rounded corners to minimize the potential for injury.
The way in which steel panels are assembled allows you to easily add or subtract panel sections as needed, creating a smaller or larger round pen. This is an excellent feature, specifically if you are unsure of your horse’s preferences.
As long as you invest in high-quality panels with a good coating, maintenance for this type of round pen is minimal. If you begin to notice rust forming over time, simply use a rust-resistant paint to eliminate further issues.
Choosing a Location for Your Round Pen
Before you purchase a horse round pen for your property, it is important to ensure that you have a location that is well-suited to this type of arena. Level ground that is not prone to flooding is essential to a great round pen. If you do not have a piece of level land large enough to accommodate the pen, you can always manually level the plot using a bulldozer or other equipment.
If it’s possible, it is wise to build your round pen near the barn. This will increase the convenience of chores and training, allowing you to spend more time doing what you love.
What Type of Footing To Use In a Round Pen
Besides the panels that create the pen, it is crucial to invest in footing that is well-suited to your needs and environment. There are several types of footing that can be used in round pens.
Using Dirt As Round Pen Footing
Using dirt as the footing for your round pen is likely the most easily-available option. If you choose to use dirt, you will need to till the dirt to at least 4 inches deep. There are several reasons why dirt is an unpopular choice amongst horse lovers.
First of all, you will have to till the dirt regularly to maintain a soft and forgiving surface. Compacted dirt can cause injury to your horse. Additionally, rain will turn your round pen into a mud pit, rendering it essentially useless until it dries.
Using Sand As Round Pen Footing
Sand creates a soft footing in any round pen. To use sand for the footing of your pen, you will first need to lay down a layer of gravel.
Once the gravel has been evenly distributed, the sand will create the top layer. One of the benefits of this method is the incredible drainage it provides. Gravel, covered with a substantial layer of sand, is perfect for wet climates.
Using Wood Shavings As Round Pen Footing
Just like sand, a wood shaving footing requires a base layer of gravel. Mulch creates a nice cushion as the footing of your round pen. However, the downside to wood shavings is that too much rain can create a slick, unrideable surface.
Using a Combination of Materials for Round Pen Footing
Likely the best footing option for round pens, using a combination of material provides you with many benefits. A common combination includes a base layer of gravel, followed by wood shavings. Finally, add a nice layer of sand on top for ultimate cushioning.
Although round pens are a considerable investment, I believe they are one of the best purchases you can make to improve the technique of both you and your horse. Some of my best memories with my horses are from working with them in a round pen. By taking the time to properly research pen sizes, footing materials, and other variables, you can find a pen that meets your needs perfectly.
Thank you for reading, and I hope this article was helpful for you as you plan your round pen! Please consider sharing it using one of the buttons below.
You can find more of my recent horse articles here.