Friday, September 11, 2009

Round Pen

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.


Blogger Tango said...

Isn't it strange how nothing in life seems to be "plug and play"? The simplest things that we think can be taken care of a few hours end up dragging out for days.

Can't wait to see pictures of the real thing to show off all that hard work. :)

6:11 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

I was going to suggest tile or maybe linoleum but that would involve alot of mopping, I think. I guess the combination of the retaining boards and the banked sides is the best. And what the snap is geo-cloth?

7:21 AM  
Blogger Patrick McGee said...

That's a beautiful pen!

Good job!

10:43 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Tango, now the shed is finished I'll have time to put more time into it. Photos when finished.

Darev, geo-cloth is a woven plastic cloth that they use to under lay on roads and driveways. It is used to prevent rock from sinking into the soil, so they clear and level the soil, put down the cloth then rock then pave. It helps prevent sinkage bumps and pot holes.

Patrick, that is a photo of how my pen will look when it's finished. It's still a work in progress.

5:40 AM  
Blogger Kay in Oregon said...

How's your round pen project coming along? I live in Sutherlin, Oregon where we also get a lot of rain so I'm particularly interested in hearing how well your footing is working out. Thanks for your comments about the geotextile cloth. I won't use it. We put some geotextile cloth in front of a field gate, then graveled over that. Pretty soon the rocks moved and exposed the cloth. I sure don't want that in a round pen.

9:03 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Kay the footing is actually much better, when it isn't soaked as it has been for the last two weeks. I still haven't finished putting up the rails so we run the horses on a lunge line.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous cattle panels said...

I would make sure you get the panels with the chain connectors and not the straight pin. I had heard of a horror story where a horse reared and came down between the cattle panels and got lodged. They were unable to undo the panels b/c the pin got bent. If it was a chain, they could have cut the chain and got the horse out.

4:57 AM  
Blogger Mudassar Mughal said...

I am very satisfied with my 60 ft. diameter round pen. I only use it to work my horses, never as turn out!
round pen panels
I firmly believe that horses need pasture for turnout. Not a small confined space. They are healthier if they can self-exercise. Sure, my guys might get a cut now and then, but they are so much happier being out all day in a 50 acre turn out.

6:14 AM  

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