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Choosing and Designing a Round Yard

1.    A discussion on portable round yard options
2.    Recommended size of a round yard
3.    Other things to consider when choosing a round yard or horse yard panels

      Please go to the  HORSE PRODUCTS page if you want to check out our range of horse products including round yard options.

" The tighter the circle the harder the horse has to work ..."

A Discussion on Portable Round Yard Options

Flexibility ...
Portable round yards are obviously more flexible than a permanent round yard. Not only can the size be reduced if needed, but considering that a round yard may not be used frequently, portable yard panels can be used for a multitude of other uses. Portable panels are also more forgiving than a fixed round yard in that the horse panels will move and give slightly if hit with any force.

Other Uses...
Four bar portable horse yard panelsBarriers: Our clients have used the portable round yard panels as barriers, for example to assist in loading a mare and her foal into a float. A temporary yard was made with a couple of panels flagging either side of the horse float, the mare had no hesitation in moving onto the float and the foal followed on, calm and collected. There was no stress or confusion as the panels were slowly closed around them.

Temporary holding yards. Depending on the number of panels in the roundyard more than one temporary yard can be built from them.

Sick bay: When a horse is sick or injured and needs to be contained or movement restricted, it will usually remain calmer if left with its paddock mates. A temporary yard can be set up as a stable sized yard, in or near the paddock so it can be outdoors with it’s equine friends. They can be used to turn a simple horse shelter into a stable as well.

Recommended Size of a Round Yard

The recommended size of a round yard is ultimately dictated by its purpose. The tighter the circle the harder a horse has to work and bend – so for a larger or unfit horse a tight circle may cause or exacerbate an injury.

Recommended round yard diameter: Smaller round yards 12m to 15m are fine for ponies, but larger horses are better worked in a round yard of 18m-20m. If you consider that a standard dressage arena is 20m wide an 18m round yard will give riders a reasonable sized area to work in and not cause unnecessary physical stress on the horse.
Lunging a pony in a round yard with 1200mm high horse panels with two rails
This portable round yard with two rails, 1200mm high is adquate for lunging well handled horses and ponies.

Recommended round yard height: If the round yard is only being used to warm up or lunge a horse, or to provide an arena for children, then there is really no reason for the height to be more than fence height, or 1200mm high with two or three bars. This enables children to feel that they can ‘escape’ quickly if they need to, but is high enough to keep in a horse that respects boundaries. As a general comparison, standard paddock fences are about 1200mm high.

The shorter panels are a bit nicer to ride in as well. If you've got a horse that likes to rub your leg on the rails, you have a bit of a chance to lift your leg higher than the rail ... if you're quick enough.

Many mass produced portable round yard panels are made to 1800mm high. These are cattle panels being sold as round yard panels and not what we recommend using with horses. More often than not, a height of 1600 (5’)  with no more than four bars, is more than adequate.

Number of round yard rails: The number of bars should always be considered. There is a likelihood that a horse could get a leg between bars if there is no solid barrier such as timber, mesh, poly or rubber lining. The further apart the bars, the easier it is for the horse to release itself without injury if it does get a leg through. Cattle panels have closely spaced bars for a reason – cattle are heavy and rough on equipment and are always looking for a way out. They figure if they can get their head through then the rest of them should also fit - they're not the brightest of animals!

Horses on the other hand are more likely to respect a visual or physical boundary. Yes, there are always some exceptions, however generally speaking 4 bars on a panel 1600mm or 5' high is usually more than adequate.

Other considerations when choosing a round yard

Panel length: Although longer steel panels make purchasing a roundyard cheaper they might not be that good a value. Longer panels need to have a centre brace inserted to support the bars and stop them from drooping and warping the horse yard panel. Generally flat steel is used as a brace, however if a horse gets a leg or head between the bars and hits against the steel which is only 5mm thick with enough force, it’s likely that stitches will be needed.

Longer portable roundyard panels are  more difficult to move around – even if they do have a skid at one end as ours do. How easily can you support the weight of one panel on it’s own? Can you move them about by yourself? The other factor to consider is shipping. Freight companies work on pallet area of 1.2m square, so panels longer than 2.35m can add at least an extra $200 to shipping costs.

Farmweld panels are made 2.25m long. This is a manageable length to handle and ships well.

How strong is the steel used? A rail might look like it’s strong because it’s wider than others you’ve seen, however it’s the thickness of the pipe wall that's important. Thin walled materials like steel tubing and some cheaper pipe can bend and break if hit with reasonable force. If using the panels for a sick or sedated horse, the last thing you want is a rail to break if your horse falls against it. EA regulations also stipulate that portable steel float yards should have a minimum wall thickness of 2mm.

The old rule of “you get what you pay for” stands true.

At the other extreme thick walled pipe (water pipe) makes the panels so heavy they are almost impossible to move around and they will not bend or flex at all.  

Cuts:Sharp protrusions such as poor slaggy welds can cause cuts to you and your horse, as can bracing and even some of the joining systems used on panels where the pins stick out. Any bolts or other fasteners should sit flush or be rounded. Even something as innocent as a horse rubbing it’s head on a rail can be enough to cause some nasty cuts requiring stitches. 

Gaps between panels: Do the panels have squared or rounded corners? Rounded top corners on panels form a ‘V’ shaped gap – a potential trap for human and equine limbs.

Quick escape: Do you need a quick release gate? If you think you might need to get out of a round yard quickly it might be worthwhile considering the option of a slam catch which will open quickly when pressure is applied to the handle. The slam catch sits within the gate frame so it won’t open if a horse leans on or hits the gate. It might be worthwhile considering two gates to provide an additional escape route as well.

"We hope you found this information helpful.
Please visit our Horse Products page and contact us to help you work out the best option for your needs and budget."

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Disclaimer: Farmweld cannot accept any responsibility for any injury or damage that you may cause to yourself, others, horses or property when following the recommendations given above. Any representation, statement, opinion or advice, expressed or implied in this publication is made in good faith but on the basis that Farmweld, its agents and employees are not liable (whether by reason of negligence, lack of care or otherwise) to any person for any damage or loss whatsoever which has occurred or may occur in relation to that person taking or not taking (as the case may be) action in respect of any representation, statement or advice referred to above. 

Copyright 2007-2010 AJ&PA Hood