|Building A Round Pen or Arena
A round pen or riding arena may be one of the best investments you ever make in your
horse business. The convenience and versatility of today's manufactured steel panels
make a round pen easy to convert into a holding pen for sick animals or a temporary
block for damaged fencing. If you prefer a more customized look to blend in with the
beauty of your farm, you might consider a white vinyl or painted wood pen. This
article will help you choose from your many options when considering building a round
pen or arena.
Sizes for Round Pens:
The most common round pen size is 60 feet in diameter, but yours
could be anywhere
from 40 to 120 feet in diameter. Here's how to calculate how many panels of what
size you'll need to purchase: Multiply the diameter you desire by 3.14 to determine
the pen's circumference. Divide the circumference by the length of the panels you wish
to use. Example: If you plan to use 10 foot panels to construct a 60 foot pen, multiply
60 by 3.14 to get a circumference of 188.4, then divide 188.4 by 10 (panel length)
to get 18.84. So you will need 19 panels for a slightly larger than 60-foot pen. If
you'll be adding a separate gate piece, consider it's length when calculating
the overall diameter of the pen.
Sizes for Arenas:
Arena sizes depend on what you need them for and can run from
(100 X 200 feet), to driving arena size (130 X 330 feet), to competition jumping size
(660 X 660 feet.
Manufactured steel pipe panels
Wooden posts and rails
Wood posts and vinyl rails
For a 50 foot round pen made of manufactured steel panels, you will spend
approximately $700 to $1500 for panels and gate. The difference in cost depends
on your choices of panel length (8, 10, 12, or 16 feet), height (48 to 72 inches),
and different gauges of steel. You can choose from a variety of gate styles, too.
Here are a few manufacturer websites and their current prices:
Tractor Supply Company -- www.mytscstore.com -- 10 panels and gate = $900
Baird Gate Company -- www.bairdgate.com -- 10 panels and gate = $914
Applegate Panels -- www.beavervalleysupply.com -- 10 panels and gate = $1085
Sioux City Steel Gates and Panels -- www.barnworld.com -- 10 panels and gate = $1580
For a 50 foot round pen made of 3 or 4 rail Vinyl Fencing, the cost is much less:
Wooden Posts $70
650' Roll of Vinyl Rail $300
Tools and Accessories $80
Total Cost: $500.00
A round pen made of wooden posts and rails would depend on the current price of lumber
and you would want to check at your local hardware store or lumber yard.
Footing costs vary also, depending on the climate and terrain of your location as
well as the size and usage of your arena. Sand costs anywhere from $100 to $200 a
truckload, and you should plan to spend at least that on the footing of your pen.
Steel pipe panels do not "give" if you or your horse falls into them. Most metal
panel manufacturers have changed the corner design of the corral panel
from rounded to square in order to prevent the possibility of a horse catching a hoof,
neck, or halter in the gap. If you have the older, round cornered panels, you
can buy poly caps that will make your pen safer for horses.
Wooden rails are more flexible, but will break under extreme pressure and may cause
injury. The wider the rail, the more safe your round pen will be.
Vinyl rails absorb shock well, and most likely the post will break but not the rail
if enough pressure is applied.
You will want a horse sized gate for easy access to your pen, and you may also want
a smaller "people only" gate.
Some round pends or arenas have enclosed walls made of plywood or closer-fitting
Another unique feature of some round pens is a bent pipe post, which is set in the
ground with concrete to anchor it. The portion of post that is below the pipe rails
is bent about a foot to the outside of the pen, to eliminate the danger of a horse
getting a foot caught.
Dirt: If you can't afford other options, use a garden tiller to loosen the
soil at least 4 inches deep. You may have to till again often, as dirt compacts
with use and can create a hard top layer that may injure your horse's legs. In
rainy climates, dirt will turn to mud and you won't be able to use your round pen.
Sand: Provides good drainage and soft footing, in wet climates it is a good
Wood shavings: Wood shavings or mulch makes good footing because it creates
a cushion over the ground, but if it gets too much moisture it can be slick.
Also, it tends to break down easily and turn to dirt.
Shredded rubber: This is a good choice because it helps drain water and
provides good footing. High winds can blow rubber pieces away, though, and it may
not last long.
Combination:A combination of the above may be best. Start with a coarse
layer (crushed rock) to help with drainage. Then add a finer layer (wood, shredded
rubber, or fine rock) to help fill in and prevent the top layer from washing away.
Then add a cushioning layer (sand) on the top.
Metal panels: Literally no maintenance necessary, unless they rust or get dirty.
Wood: Use pressurized lumber or treated posts, they will hold up better. Prime,
stain, or paint your wood posts and rails.
Vinyl: Hose it off when it gets dirty. You can buy white, brown, or black
vinyl fencing, but can also paint it any color you choose.
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