Article from About.com with
added notes from C
& S Iron.
Round-Pen Buyer's Guide
Few training tools can pay off like a round pen. Sure, it may cost you the
equivalent of a month or 2 of full-time training and board upfront. But it'll
pay for itself in benefits. You can accomplish a high degree of training from
the safety of the ground that will easily transfer to under-saddle work. You can
gain your horse's focus, instill the fact that you're the "herd boss,"
and much more.
Here are some tips for making the buy:
Size matters. You can buy a round pen that's anywhere
from 30 to 120 feet in diameter. What you'll need depends on what you'll
use the pen for. If it's just for longeing, you can opt for a smaller
diameter. However, if you'll be long lining, free longeing, breaking young
horses, and doing other basic round-pen work, experts suggest a
60-foot-diameter pen. (Tip: Most pre-fab round pens come in panel form, so
you can enlarge or shrink the diameter of your pen with relative ease.) C
& S Iron note: Our round pens are available in the three most popular sizes: 40'
, 50' and 60'. If you need a special diameter let us know, or you can always
add more panels at a later time.
- Strength matters. Will you be working broke horses in
the pen? Breaking youngsters? Or even containing the occasional herd of
cattle? How you'll use it will determine the degree of strength you'll need.
Pipe rails generally range from 1 1/2" to 2" diameter; the larger
the diameter, the stronger the panel. And don't let the gauge measurement
fool you: As a rule of thumb, the higher the gauge number, the thinner the
metal. Most round pens are made from 16 to 20 gauge steel, with 16 being
the strongest of those. C & S
Iron note: Our round pens come in
heavier gauges then other competitors. Our gauges range from 14 to 11 gauge
options from 1 1/4" to 2". This makes a big difference in strength
and longevity of your round pen.
- Panel pointers. You can generally choose from panels 8'
to 16' in length; shorter panels weigh less (a plus), but can make set-up
time longer, because of all the connections you'll need to make between each
panel. Longer panels weigh more than shorter ones, so are unwieldy, but
there are fewer connections to assemble. Panels usually range from 48 to 72
inches in height . Trainers generally prefer taller panels, as the height
discourages attempts to escape the pen, and also can help keep the horse's
focus inside it. C & S Iron note: Our round pens come
in heights from 63" (6 rails high) to 75" (7 rails high). We suggest and use 10' panel lengths for
better strength and to form a better circle. Plus, our round pen packages
are very easy to set up.
Solid vs. pipe. Most panels come in pipe form, but
solid ones are available. Solid construction reduces the risk of a leg
getting caught, and also reduces distractions from outside the pen. This may
be for you if you'll primarily be breaking youngsters. Be aware, though,
that solid construction can make each panel weigh two to three times that of
a pipe one. C & S Iron note: We
have found in our experience that the solid panel round pens (especially the slant style)
are less safe, because there is more risk of the horse trying to run up and
over the side of it, resulting in injury to the animal and/or trainer. Check out any of the top trainers around the
world and they are using corral panel type round pens such as ours.
Important safety note: We also recommend never to buy round pen panels that
have rounded corners on the top of the panel. A horse is more likely to
slide down and catch a leg in-between the panels if it rears up onto the top rail. We make
all of our round pen panels with square corner tops. And with our
the top gap between the panels is eliminated altogether!
Material words. Most round pens are constructed from
steel or steel alloy. Galvanized steel is likely best for resisting
corrosion, but increasing costs are making it less widely available. Rust-resistant paint or baked-on finishes are available, as are panels in
natural, metal-colored finish. You can make a choice based on color
preference, but any panel type will likely require maintenance. Watch for
rust; paint the panel with rust-resistant paint when it appears.
C & S Iron note: We
build our round pens out of high tensile strength steel tubing. We
offer them in both unpainted or painted.
info on our painted and unpainted products.