We have a sixty-foot round pen for our horses. This is a circular pen where the horses are trained and get exercise running in circles. I’ve seen all sorts of configurations for round pens with different types of footing . Some folks just put up fence panels on a flat piece of land and after a couple of sessions there is just bare dirt.
This being Oregon where rain is a constant thing most times of the year; I’ve seen many people with round pens that are useless for days after a rain. Some can’t be used from November until July. When I put our round pen in I got some bids to have it professionally done where a contractor would lay down a layer of geo-cloth, pit-run rock, 10 inches of crushed stone and top it off with sand. The problem is that the least expensive bid was over $5,000. Instead I opted for a load of dirt to raise the elevation about two feet off the grade. Then I put down geo-cloth and topped that off with about six inches of sand.
This system worked well with the rain fall. Some of the sand washed out once, but I since put up retaining boards at the base. The problem is that horses are heavy and when they run, though there is six inches of sand beneath them they can still make the geo-cloth move and eventually the edges come to the surface and eventually you have all these tripping zones for the horse.
A neighbor with a bucket loader offered to help me out. We figure it would be a simple job to scrape away some of the sand and yank out the geo-cloth. It wasn’t as simple as we thought. It took us six hours to pull all the cloth. The higher spots needed to be tilled and scrapped and the dirt redistributed. We continued on and leveled and banked the outer part like a race track and redistributed the sand. In total my neighbor donated close to 24 hours of his time and his tractor.
I still need to do a final smoothing of the sand and reset the posts and rails, but I need to wait until the sand dries from the weekend rains.
The photo above isn't my round pen, but this is what it will look like when it is finished. My wife is in Canada with our camera.