How to Build a Round Pen for Your Horse

By Cuteness Contributor

A round pen is an indispensable training tool for the horse enthusiast. It offers you a safe, confined area to work with your horse either on a lunge line or while riding. This wooden round pen can be built in a weekend and enjoyed for years. A round pen needs to be at least 50' - 60' for the safety of both horse and rider should the rider be thrown or the horse spook. These directions are for building a 50' round pen.

Building Round Pen for Our Horses

Place your first stake in the center of where you wish your round pen to be build and measure out 25' and place your second stake. Repeat this measurement straight across and keep going as if you were sectioning a pie, placing a stake where each post is to be sunk later. Each stake needs to be 10' from one another with the exception of the gate. Your 10' boards will need to be nailed to each stake.

Using your post hole digger, dig holes for each post. You will want them buried at least a foot down for stability. As you fill in the holes, tamp down the dirt with the non-business end of your shovel or other stick. Taking this extra time helps ensure solid construction.

Top rail of the round pen up

Begin nailing your boards up onto the posts, beginning with the top rail. The boards should be nailed from inside the pen. The horse or rider will not inure themselves on the posts this way. Tap in a nail on each side just enough to hold the board in place and use your level to ensure balance. If you have a helper, this is made even easier to do without pre-nailing. The height is up to you. Ours is almost 5' tall.

More progress during the building of the round pen

Add your second and third row of board rails to the fence. Leave enough room on the bottom that a thrown rider could roll out of the pen to safety.

This shows the gate area of our round pen

Attach your gate. We used a prefabricated metal gate because we happened to have on on hand that was 4' wide but you can easily build one yourself from wood if you're handy enough. Avoid rounded corners if at all possible as they make for a safety hazard should your horse throw their leg up between your post and the rounded corner. Straight edges meet up more even and don't pose as much risk. Chain or rodeo latches should be used as other types can pose a risk of catching on a halter.

**If your gate is of a different size than we used for ours, you will need to adjust the number of boards and posts as necessary. Likewise if you decide to go with a 60' diameter vs the 50' we went with.

After the ground was tilled in our round pen

Till the ground up good inside the round pen. Round pens ideally have a soft surface such as sand. Hard ground is a no-no. Imagine a rider being thrown onto it. A bit of resistance offered by soft ground is also good for the horse and less jarring to their joints. Rake out well after tilling. Remove any large pieces of sod and ensure there are no pits or holes that may injure your horse. It should resemble soft garden soil ready for planting. With time and use it will get to the perfect medium between soft tilled and firm enough soil.

Leanne grooming one of the horses in the round pen

Paint or stain to your liking, if desired. If staining treated wood, it's best to wait until the wood is exposed to the weather and elements for a full year first.