A handy trainer can make a lot of progress within these circular confines
By Terryn Drieling
Whether you’ve got the gentlest horses around or some straight-up broncs, a round pen can be an invaluable tool in building a solid foundation and setting your colts up for ranch horse success.
The Round Pen Advantage
Starting colts in a round pen offers the advantage of being able to get the horse moving out naturally and using the help of the fence to earn trust and get them caught. Horseman, stockman, and clinician Curt Pate credits a lot of his success in colt starting and staying out of the dirt to his use of round pens.
The Ideal Round Pen
Size depends on the horse. For a dull horse, a larger round pen may be in order to help encourage the horse to really move out. For a horses with more spunk, something big enough to release pressure but small enough you can get them caught may fit the bill.
“I like to start a colt in at least a 50 foot round pen, so they can move out natural. I use a rope a lot starting colts, and 50 foot is small enough to get them caught with as little stress as possible,” Pate says of his ideal round pen.
Safety is also an important factor to consider.
“Panels need to be set up tight with no gaps, so the horses can’t get a leg through and injure themselves. A round pen needs to be semi-solid – moves but doesn’t break,” said Pate.
What’s Out There
In addition to their loose panels, Priefert also has four different round pen options in their Economy, Utility, Premier, and Mustang Round Pens. Each option is available in 40, 50, 60, and 70 foot in diameters and feature 6×9 foot bow gates.
Priefert’s Economy and Utility Round Pens provide economical options for those gentle horse, low-pressure situations. Both the Economy and Utility panels feature similarly constructed 1.66 outer diameter 20 gauge steel tubing and feature chain connectors.
Economy panels stand 65 inches tall on loop legs to prevent sinking on wet or boggy ground. Priefert’s Utility panels are 62 inches tall and come equipped with J-legs and “fishhooks” that strengthen the top corners and prevent leg traps.
Touted as “Tough enough for cattle, safe enough for horses,” the Premier and Mustang Round Pens are ideal for almost any colt starting situation. The Mustang Round Pen features the slightly taller 6’ Premier panels with pin connectors. Both options include Priefert’s patented Quadraform™ tubing and the J-legs and “fishhook” corners that add stability & safety and come standard to all Premier Panels. www.priefert.com
When it comes to round pens, Powder River has options in their 5-Rail AG, Powder Mountain, and 1600 Series Tube Panels. Each option offers the flexibility of a variety of sizes to construct the round pen to suit your set-up and horses.
At 54 inches in height, the 5-Rail AG panel offers an affordable option for getting started with gentle colts or fine-tuning horses that are already going. With six rails and formed upright stays, Powder Mountain Panels are built for low to medium pressure situations. Powder Mountain Panels also offer the choice of pin or chain connectors.
Equipped with 14 gauge vertical stays and pin connectors, the 1600 Tube Panels are Powder River’s all-purpose panels and can be used for cattle or horses. With the 1600 Tube Panels you’ve got the choice between straight or loop legs and five different panel lengths. www.powderriver.com
Behlen Country offers two popular options for round pens. The more heavy-duty XT corral panels and the more utility Horse Country panels. The XT’s are more for training purposes and will be able to withstand more of a beating from pressure. The Horse Country Panels are for more gentle horses and everyday round pen work.
Behlen Country Horse Country Panels
∙ Taller and heavier than our standard promo panel
∙ 14 gauge heavy-duty smooth formed braces for maximum strength and durability
∙ Option – Pin Hookups:
-Allow 3 or 4 way connections for pens
∙ Option – Chain hookups
∙ Long-lasting UV resistant powder coat finish
∙ 10’ Corral Panel 55lbs
∙ 12’ Corral Panel 66lbs
∙ 16’ Corral Panel 84lbs
∙ 6’x9’ Arch Gate 60 lbs
∙ 10’ Entrance Panel w/ 6’ Arch Gate 78lbs
∙ 12’ Entrance Panel w/ 6’ Arch Gate 84lbs
Cowboy Math – Figuring a Round Pen
Now, we know that most of you probably got this all figured out. But for those who don’t, here’s the equation to figure out how many feet of panel and gate you need to make your ideal round pen.
Diameter x Pi (3.14) = Circumference (Editor: …the ‘what’ now?)
So, if it’s a 50 foot round pen you want, you’d need to multiply 50 by 3.14 to get how many feet of panel and gate you need.
50 x 3.14 = 157
You need 157 feet of panel and gate to build a 50 foot round pen. Now subtract the number of gate feet you’ve got, divide by your panel length, and you’ve got the number of panels you need to get set up. It’s JUST that simple!
“I put on colt starting demos for 15 years and never got thrown off. Now, that could be luck. But I believe it’s because of the advantage of starting in a round pen,” said Pate.