Friday, November 25, 2011

How to...

Build a roundpen for less than 50€!
  1. Buy, beg or borrow 8 to12 thin fiberglass posts (preferably 6 feet long and no less than 4 1/2 feet long), 2 screw-on insulators for each post, two insulated handles and about 300 feet of electric fence tape (our horses respect this kind of fences so we don't have to connect it but if your horses aren't familiar with or don't respect electric fencing, you'll need an energizer to electrify the tape).
  2. Get out a 20 to 30 foot longe line (20 feet for a 40 foot diameter roundpen, 25 feet for a 50 foot diameter roundpen and so on...).
  3. Find a friend and ask them to stand in the center of where you want your round pen to be holding one end of the longe line.
  4. Hold the other end of the longe line and walk around them in a circle, imagining that your friend is the center of a compass.
  5. Mark the ground clearly (the actual direction doesn't matter, this is just to visualize where to put your marks) at N, E, S and W, then at NE, SE, SW and NW (if you make a 60 foot roundpen you'll have to make two marks between each "cardinal" direction).
  6. Choose where you want your "gate" to be and mark the ground accordingly.
  7. Hammer your posts in at each mark (helps if you do it after a particularly rainy day) until the posts are firmly set in the ground.
  8. Screw your two insulators on each post at roughly the same height; the upper one should be about 3 1/2 to 4 feet off the ground and the lower one about halfway down.
  9. Tie the tape where your "gate" opening will be and wrap the tape all the way around the top of the fence, snapping it into the upper insulator at each post, then looping completely back around the bottom of the fence, snapping into each lower insulator.
  10. When you get to back to the door, tie or fasten the electrical tape firmly to the gate "hinge" post so that when the door is opened, the rest of the fence won't droop.
  11. Tie or otherwise attach your handles so that they can just be hooked around the far gate post with a little stretching.
  12. If you're using an energizer, connect it up and voilà!  You've just built a roundpen in under two hours and for less than 50€ (not counting the energizer)!!!
Before you get started, be sure to check out these safety tips:
  • This roundpen is NOT sturdy enough for wild, extremely green or very spooky / nervous horses who are afraid of humans: they'll run into or over it in a heartbeat.
  • It's a good idea to wear a helmet, especially if it's the first time your horse has worked in the roundpen: they tend to get rebellious at one point and can kick or strike out at you.
  • The most dangerous situation is when your horse won't move off and you have to get in close to make it drive away from you, so be sure to use a flag, longe whip or your twirling rope as an extension of your arm.
  • Extended roundpen (or longeing) sessions on extremely hard or soft footing are bad for your horse's legs-- hard terrain jars their bones and soft terrain can cause muscle and joint strain.
  • If your horse is sweating profusely, having trouble breathing or stumbling constantly, back off and let him rest!  If you make sure he's facing you while he's resting, he learns that standing still and looking at you is a good, comfortable thing.

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