How to Build a Round Pen for Next to Nothing

How to Build a Round Pen for Next to Nothing

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Note: We haven’t had horses at Clucky Dickens Farm for a few years. Because of that, I had taken this post off my site. But since nothing actually ever leaves the internet, I often get emails from folks asking where the article is. Pinterest and backlinks from other sites prove it once existed. So I once again present to you our post on how to build a round pen for cheap with the caveat that we no longer have horses, and the round pen has since been taken down. However, it worked great when we still had our horses!

My husband decided this spot would be nice for a round pen. He announced, “I’m going to build a round pen.”

Learn how we made a round pen for only $50. Impossible? Nah. Let me show you how.

I, however,  immediately imagined lots of dollar signs flying from our bank account.

He could sense my concern about the cost, and assured me, “It’s only going to cost $50.”

Fifty bucks? Are you kidding me?

But he was right.

Learn how we made a round pen for only $50. Impossible? Nah. Let me show you how.

How to you build a round pen for $50?

Well, let me tell you.

It was $50 for the 8 foot landscaping timbers used as vertical posts (when we built this in 2012). The rest of the stuff we used was salvaged from around the farm from projects we’d already completed, or things we’d taken apart and saved materials from.

Reusing and re-purposing is the name of the game when you’re a homesteader, and that’s the surest way you’re going to build a round pen for cheap.

As far as measurements on this round pen, I can’t help you there. We no longer have horses and the round pen is no longer standing—that space now has apple trees and a patch of clover.

I do remember that we wanted the round pen to be a certain size. We marked the center and stood there, measuring out so many feet from center around in a circular shape until we’d marked out the perimeter of the round pen.

We dug holes with a post hole digger and then set the posts into the ground 18 inches or so. We did not have to use concrete in the holes, but you certainly can if you’d like.

After setting the landscape timbers in the ground and making sure they were level—not leaning one way or the other—we screwed 2x6s (8ft long) to the posts around the bottom perimeter. This supported the structure, and also helped keep the sand in the round pen.

We then screwed 1x4s (8 ft long) to the posts around the middle perimeter, off setting them at every other post — one set of 1x4s high, then the next set lower.

Learn how we made a round pen for only $50. Impossible? Nah. Let me show you how.

Next we had to build a gate.

We also added a landscape timber diagonally to the left of the gate—it provided additional oomph to support the weight from the gate on the vertical post it was hinged to.

Learn how we made a round pen for only $50. Impossible? Nah. Let me show you how.

The gate was built simply: two hinges on a rectangular frame with one diagonal board across the middle to keep it from shifting. The latch was a piece of chain that could be wrapped around both the gate and the vertical post next to it and then secured with a hook.

Because, yo. Using what we had.

…which is really the point of this round pen. We used what we had access to. Use this round pen to spark ideas for how you can build your own.

Remember, your round pen can be whatever size you want it to be, and the size will mostly likely be determined by what kind of training you’re planning to do within it. I have no measurements from the one we built.

Keeping that in mind, here are our estimates to build this round pen in 2017 without having access to any of the salvaged items we used. **

2017 costs, non-salvaged materials

Landscape timbers: $3.95 each (In 2012, we purchased 25 at 1.99 each.)

Quikrete/concrete for setting posts: $3.90 per bag (In 2012, we did not set our posts in concrete.)

Treated 2x6x8s for bottom perimeter of the pen: $5.94 each (In 2012, we used 25-26 boards, salvaged.)

Treated 1x4x8s for the middle perimeter of the pen: $2.99 each (In 2012, we used 50-52 boards, salvaged.)

1x4x8s to make gate: $2.99 each (In 2012, we used 2-3 more salvaged 1x4s to make the gate.)

(Not sure how to make a gate? You can modify the directions I posted here in How to Make a Garden Gate!)

Gate hinges: $5.79 each (In 2012, we used two latches that were salvaged from another project.)

Gate latch: $6.75 (In 2012, we used a piece of salvaged chain and a hook.)

** Remember, these costs are only approximate and will probably be different depending on where you buy your lumber locally.

All in all, the round pen served our purposes for the time that we needed it. We never had a horse escape or jump out or bust through the sides.

It looked good, it didn’t break the bank, and it worked!

Learn how we made a round pen for only $50. Impossible? Nah. Let me show you how.

If you build a round pen, either similar to this design or different, be sure to tell us about it in the comments!

Let me show you how some salvaged materials and smart shopping allowed us to build a round pen for only $50.

Do you homeschool? So do we! Check out my book — The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.

35 thoughts on “How to Build a Round Pen for Next to Nothing”

  • Great pen! To be used for the horses? Looks as though you all could have used a hosing off before getting your showers!

    I think you did very well to have only spent $50 for the materials.

  • Hey there! Been a long time since I dropped in and I can't believe the changes! Wow! You guys have been working your tails off! I have to work on catching up. Your hubbs is sure talented! Great recycling project. I bet the horses will be quite pleased as well.

    • Welcome back!! Yes, we have been busy. I don't know where we'd be if we didn't have all the individual talents and creativity of all the different people who call this farm home. Love. It. A. Lot. 🙂

  • O.M.G. I HATE YOU! I mean, wow, what a lucky gal you are! What a wonderful (and frugal) beautifully made round pen. I am so happy for you and your horses (I hateyouhateyouhateyou). Although I do have to admit I may be a wee-bit jealous.

  • That is a good looking pen!
    When I was a kid we lived on a dairy. We got a horse (saved him from the glue factory my grandpa said) and he was built a pen from reclaimed wood around the farm. The only problem? Someone forgot to remove ALL the old nails from the reclaimed wood. I found the forgotten nail. With my left hand. Right in the palm. In the nice meaty part just above the center of my wrist. Still have the scar 26 years later. I can still remember the blood curdling scream I let loose that day. The weird thing was that there was this big hole and no blood.
    Lesson for the day: Make sure all the old nails have been removed. 🙂

  • The pen is awesome! I totally thought the same thing before I read your caption of Iggy's photo, looks like a Depression Era photo… but I guess our country is sort of going that way again, yeesh!

  • That is one GREAT round pen!! Just so you know, rocks grow in round pens. No matter how many times you drag and remove them, they leave behind "seeds" and grow more!! 😉

  • FME leaning against the fence is the perfect male picture. Every man (and woman) needs a good fence for some serious thinking time. Works for day dreams as well.

    Old Uncle Bill would reply when asked, "What'cha been up to?" "The fence." He knew what they were really for.

  • AWSOME round pen on the cheap ! Now I see how I can finally afford one too. Just a thought . . . I hope you will think about putting a top rail on top of those posts . . . I sure would hate to see a panicked horse turn or rear and come down on one of the timbers impaling his/her neck or chest. Been there, seen that. Thanks for the tip !

  • great looking pen and the cheapest idea I have seen yet. Questions: Are the posts dug or just using the rails and bottom board as braces? What are the lengths of the sections and height (length between the post and height of post). Thanks so much for posting this!

    • I really need to update this post! Glad you found it. We no longer have our horses and the round pen has been taken down, but 1) yes the posts were dug into the ground 2) my hubby says the timbers were 8 ft timbers that were set about 2 foot in the ground, so 6 foot tall. The length between the posts was 8 feet. All the timbers we used were 8 foot timbers. 🙂

  • Looks awesome, i am looking for ideas for a round pen on the cheap, this is fantastic. I am hoping to sort one out soon.. thank you so much for sharing.
    Hubby will be rolling his eyes when I tell him about this, another job for the list haha 😀

    • I’m from Alberta and it’s great to see your ideas cheap is not bad I think it’s fun to build useing things you can salvage and on sale making it safe is important

  • what did you put down for the surface? what about drains etc? that would definitely cost more than £50 but on my farm, it would be essential.

    • The surface is sand, and I’m not sure what you mean by drains. Here in Minnesota, I’ve never heard of an outdoor round pen having a drain. Perhaps we’re talking about two different things?

  • I made my round yard free.. stacking up used tyres. The tyre place is happy to give them to you and some will even pay you to take them.. young horse dont hurt themselves on the rubber. Like they can with timber or steel yards.. iv never had an injury to the yound horses i break in.. i filled the tyres with the dirt that was dug out from the dam to make them more stable..

  • How sturdy are the landscape timbers? How far apart did you place the timbers? Looks like a great idea. My brother has an old barn we could use lumber from.

    • It worked well for us and was sturdy enough for what we needed. We didn’t have anyone try to escape though. 😉 It stayed up until we took it down several years ago (because we sold our horses). Because it’s not up anymore, I can’t tell you how far apart the timbers were. Sorry!

  • The standard for a round pen is 50 feet. A bullpen is NO LARGER than 50 feet, but most are a bit smaller than a round pen. (A bullpen has solid siding. It’s often plywood all the way around, from post to post. The purpose of that is to keep the horse focus on you and the training he’s getting at that moment. Although a horse can be is a thing some point is ridden in a bullpen, its a wonderful training tool for ground-driving and many other fundimemtal essentials of training for a horse. A round pen is made of fencing, like in this article & is often done with a rider, and is just as popular to do so instead of using a lunge line in an open area.)

  • My horses would smash that pen to bits I’m afraid. Two 2×4 rails are nothing to my 1200lb animals and my little 900lb one would just jump it. This must be for fine tuning already broke horses, not training fillies and colts nor wild horses. Reclaimed materials are a good idea tho. I wonder if it could be done with earth/gravel bags…?

  • Any comments on building a temporary round pen for tuning up an already broke horse? Would 4 feet tall posts be too low? Also thinking of using 2 inch electric fence ribbon ( without the electric).

    • I would not use 4ft poles. The horse could be injured or try to jump them. Especially metal poles would be very dangerous.
      I would not use electric ribbon. Your should be trained to avoid it. And some horses sense there is no electricity in the ribbon and will run thru it. In a round pen the horse mostly workes along the outer edge of the fencing witch is counter to the use if electric ribbon. I suggest you use a lunge line or one each since of your and work it that way. I did that for years before getting a round pen

  • I found this just in time, after pricing panels I was too say the least a bit discouraged. Then I found this, needless to say I’ll be at home depot tomorrow. I can’t wait to get started on my round pen and it looks great.

  • Just moved from Florida to NC, bigger property to smaller, different soils, different rainfall seasons. Retired now so low budget. Looking for new ways to do things. Thanks

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