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 Post subject: Round Pens and Arena Questions
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 10:23 am 
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What are the best conditions for training? We have a round pen, but I'm always wondering how we can improve it. Here is what I read in John Lyon's book "Lyons On Horses" regarding round pens and arena footing. What do you use for training, and what is the best you would suggest?

"If you are constructing your own pen, begin with a fifty to sixty foot diameter...this is a small enough area that you can comfortably work a horse from the ground, yet large enough that a big horse can lope easily....Roughly, a diameter of 50 feet = 157 linear feet; 60 feet = 188 linear feet.
"Solid wall construction is the best, either of wood or metal. The type of material is not as important as its strength. With a solid wall before him, the horse will think much less about running through or over the fence. The walls should be straight, not slanted, and should be built solid from the ground up to six feet. A horse will rarely think about jumping over a fence of this height.
"Another advantage to the solid wall construction is that if your leg is smashed against the wall, the pressure will spread out over ten to twelve inches, whereas with a pipe pen, the pressure against your leg is intensified by being spread over only a two-inch pipe.
"Pipe has other disadvantages. The bottom of the horse's legs can hit on the posts as he runs around the pen. Also, if you are riding the horse, your toes may have a tendency to get caught in the supporting pipes.
"The ground in the round pen should consist of four to six inches of good, loose footing. This can be a combination of good soil, sand, and shavings. Compacted soil can cause damage to legs from repeated impact on the hard surface.
"If the soil is too sandy, the horse will tire and will have to rest frequently. As the tendons become tired and lose their elasticity, the can tear away from the bone, causing damage such as bowed tendons. Again, the tendons are more apt to tire when the horse is working in sand.
"Do not bank the dirt in the round pen. We'd rather have the horse running level so his inside shoulder doesn't drop and he doesn't repeatedly pound his inside front leg." --John Lyons and Sinclair Browning in the book Lyons On Horses

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:34 am 
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Just one thought on round pens...I'd rather have a square pen and here is why: I don't think a horse learns very much by following a rail in circles. A square pen forces them to think a little. If for some reason you'd like to occasionally have a round pen, you could simply add PVC to the corners of you panels temporarily, while you work "off-line". I also like the idea of corners when starting colts. If the horse gets a little excited or confused, putting their nose in the corner for a couple of seconds can get them "thinking" again. I don't want to depend on a corner, but it does come in handy on occasion. I guess I think the square pen is most helpful under saddle. Just my thoughts :wink: . I will admit that when I dumb jock, a round pen is a little handier, as the horse doesn't try to hide in the corner...again, the addition of PVC is helpful.

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