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How Big Should a Horse Round Pen Be?

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Horse pens are essential for training; they help horses improve their attention span and have marked benefits on their cadence and balance.

Round pens also facilitate a better relationship between the horse and its trainer because the enclosed nature of the pen gives the trainer the horse's undivided attention.

There are many different types of round pens, from an open enclosure for domesticated horses to solid-lumber bullpens for horses that are wild or simply in need of more training.

However, there's a large debate as to what the best size is for a horse round pen. So, how big should a horse pen be? Is there a standard size that horse owners should use to ensure the best possible connection with your horse?

Horse Round Pen Diameter

how big should a horse round pen be-diameter

Horse round pens typically range from 30 to 100 feet in diameter, though most horse trainers and riders typically encounter models that are 50 feet in diameter. 

The inventor of the Noavel headstall, Rick Wheat, often uses a 30-foot pen to train horses. While some argue that it’s too small a size round pen to start out with, others note that Wheat has had a considerable measure of success.

Does this mean that you need to be working in a 30-foot pen, even with larger breeds, to ensure results? 

Think about the Size of the Breed

horse breed-how big should a horse round pen be

In some instances, the size of the horse that would be using the pen should be the major criteria for determining the pen’s diameter.

A Clydesdale or any other horse over 15 hands would probably not suit a smaller round pen if intensive training and handling is needed, while a Welsh pony might struggle to learn about cantering and pace if it's in a pen that’s too large.

A huge horse would be better suited in a 60 feet round pen if you plan to ride at a lope or canter, while a wild horse or high-spirited horse would operate better in a 40 or 50 feet circular enclosure.

You also need to make sure that the walls of the pen are high enough to discourage new horses from trying to escape.

Consider getting an even larger pen if the horses that'll be using the round pen are larger.

Consider the Training Style

It's always a good idea to think about what you want your horse to get out of the round pen sessions, this helps determine an appropriately-sized training venue that might suit that purpose.

Perhaps you have a colt you'd like to train up or do ground work with. A pen that has 40 or 50-foot diameter might be adequate. If your horse is going to do arena work, a 90 or 100-foot pen will provide you with the space you need.

Does Age Matter?

age matters-how big should a horse round pen be

A younger horse will respond better to round pen sessions with provisions for gradual increase of the pen’s diameter over time, this helps build their stamina.

A larger pen might be more appropriate in building the horse stamina as it provides enough room to move, but that would require you be in good shape yourself, in order to be able to keep up with them!

Older horses can feel the stress of round pen work in their joints and ligaments, you might want to use a smaller pen and limit their time in training.

Horse Pens Aren't One-Size-Fits-All

how big should a horse round pen be-one size fits all

Your relationship with your horses is unique to you; why should your horse pen be any different? If your horse attention needs to be worked on, a smaller pen might help provide more focus during training.

If you want to work on other issues like balance, cadence and rollbacks, try a larger pen to give you a bit more space. You might find that the question "how big should a horse pen be?" has as many answers as there are horse trainers.


What should I use for my Round Pen Footing?

Typically, wood shavings are placed on top of a base layer of gravel for horse pen footing.

Is investing in a good round pen worth it?

Yes. A good round pen might be pricey, but it can also be a great investment with a variety of applications, including training and working green horses, letting trained horses run free and exercising them, and even providing limited turnout or pony rides for non-horsey friends.

What is a broke horse?

A horse that is regarded safe to ride and exhibits all of his fundamental manners is given the term "broke." Broke horses ought to be sensitive to their riders and reasonably well-trained.

Found this article informative? why don’t you find out what the right stall size for your horse should be or learn how to tack up a horse.

In any case, your next training session is sure to bring promising result showing up with any of our collection of apparel that speaks of your love for your horse.

If you sometimes tell yourself, "Wow, horses make me happy!" then you might enjoy our articles about horses here.

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BROOKS MAurer - October 26, 2021

I am looking for an adoption of f a Friesian. Mainly because of their loving domenior.
I have a disability known as Severe Panic Anxiety. When I get around the horses it is remarkable how it goes away. With that said, I am looking for a lifetime journey and friend in a Friesian horse.
May you please help me?
Regards, Shannon Brooks Maurer ( in NC)

Bill - March 18, 2019

Researching needs for 1-3/4 Appaloosa horses. Thank you & grateful for any information or guidance.

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