Horse Round Pens come in all different sizes and materials, but the most common size has a 60ft diameter.
This size is great for both groundwork and riding as it is big enough that your horse can comfortably perform at all gaits yet small enough for you to have timely control without wearing yourself out.
I personally like the round pen as it allows you to work your horse at liberty which gives the horse more freedom to be a partner in the relationship, compared to longeing on a longeline. The basic principle is that you are able to stand in the center and efficiently and effectively direct your horse to work around you. Trying to do this in a rectangular shaped arena is much harder as your horse may tend to get stuck in the corners. The round pen, being circular in shape, prevents this from happening.
Round penning is a great way to develop the body language skills between you and your horse, and you will be amazed at how sensitive your horse can become to the smallest of signals from you. With practice you will be able to use cues so small that they are hardly detectable to most spectators and when your relationship fully develops you may get to the point where you almost only have to think it and your horse will respond.
Using the round pen should be a fun exercise so be careful not to overdo it. You need to stay creative so that your horse doesn't get bored of running round and round in circles!
Depending on your horse, you can build your round pen out of many different materials. If you have an older, calmer, trained horse who is respectful of electric fencing you can just make one using electric fence posts. Plastic ones are safest and use either the 2" fence tape or the thick electic fence rope, so that it is very visible to the horse.
Alternatively you could build your own using wooden fencing, such as the one we built pictured above.
You need to ensure that the round pen footing is good - grass/dirt are fine when it's dry but if you have a wetter climate you consider scraping off the top soil and putting in a gravel drainage base topped with a couple of inches of sand. That will enable you to use the pen on both wet and dry days.
The only problem with wooden structures is that they aren't portable - which can be a problem if you need to move it for any reason.
However you can purchase round pens made of tubular steel which are very portable and durable. This type of pen is also very versatile as you can change the configuration to make it into a temporary pen if the need occurs.
We have done a lot of research into galvanized steel pens and have found some for a really great price (especially if you are in Canada, where prices are generally much higher). Click here to find out more about them.
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