Building Your Own Round Pen
Follow our step-by-step guide on building a round pen in your own backyard.
What is a round pen?
Round pens are round enclosures, or corrals, used for training horses. From groundwork to lunging to riding, these pens have many uses for equestrians in both English and Western riding disciplines.
We partnered with a local farmer, Chelsea Harmer (@parallel45farm), on this step-by-step guide to building a round pen using products from Murdoch’s. If you already have a level patch of ground and are not building into a hillside, you can skip steps 3 through 7.
Step 1: Determine the diameter of your round pen. Most round pens are between 50 and 70 feet across. Then place a wooden stake in the ground where you want the exact center of the pen.
Step 2: To create a perfect circle to delineate the wall of the pen, run a string from the stake for the entire length of the radius (half the diameter). Use stakes or spray paint to mark the circumference of the round pen using the string as your guide.
Step 3: Use whatever tools necessary to excavate and level the ground within the circle you just marked.
Tip: We used an excavator to dig as far as needed and then used a tractor for the leveling work.
Step 4: For this round pen, the incline was so steep that we needed a retaining wall on the uphill and downhill side of the pen. We leveled a good bit of the land and then built a lower retaining wall before completing the leveling.
Step 5: Build the lower retaining wall
Tip: We used 4-by-4-inch posts sunk 3 feet into the ground to support our lower retaining wall. We used 2-by-10-inch boards for the wall itself.
Step 6: Place backfill dirt into the newly built retaining wall. Level once again.
Step 7: Build a retaining wall on the uphill side of the round pen. For this, we used 4-inch round posts sunk 4 feet into the ground and railroad ties for the wall.
Tip: We used 8-inch construction lag screws to adhere the railroad ties to the posts.
Step 8: Use your center stake with the string to mark where your fence posts are going. Our wall used 7-foot spacing for the posts. During this step, make sure you also measure the location of the gate!
Step 9: Dig or drill post holes.
Tip: Make sure you use a blunt instrument to tamp the soil tightly around the post once it is in the ground.
Step 10: Add railings. We alternated ours for a staggered look. The railings on the fence are 16 inches apart from the bottom of one railing to the top of the next below it. We used 3½ -inch construction lag screws to secure the railings to the posts.
After taking the above steps, the round pen will resemble this:
Step 11: Install your gate. We used a 6-inch round post to hold our gate.
Step 12: Use a Sawzall to cut the tops off tall posts.
Step 13: Remove your center stake and remaining stakes. Congratulations, you are done!
Step 14: Enjoy your hard work!