Round pen owners BEWARE!!!! Injured horse~~

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Lil Timber Buck

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2011
Reaction score
Southeast TN
PLEASE read this if you own at round pen at all. It may save your horse's life. We got lucky and were able to catch it quick enough. We have had our little stallion at home for more than a year now. Since he is our only mini, he lives alone with over-the-fence access to the big horses. Every single day we take him to the round pen for an hour or two of turnout time. He loves to run and play in there and again the horses can access him there too. Lately, we noticed that the big horses would come to the round pen and Timber would rear up and reach over the round pen panels to sniff them and play around. At first, I didn't think anything about it but PLEASE take this as fair warning. I had NO idea what was about to happen. If your ground is not level, your round pen won't sit properly like this (spaced further apart at top pin than bottom pin)


Just enough space is left for a mini horse leg....

Our round pen is the typical round tubing with green paint and is practically new with no sharp edges or dagers other than him sticking his head through the panel I THOUGHT! We turned him out just like we have for the last year. We found him HANGING by his left front leg from the TOP of the round pen. He had reared up to play, his leg apparently made it over this time and when they slid off they went between the panel and the metal pin holding the two panels together!!!!!!
Right here:


I had no idea that the spces were wide enough to do that but look at the pictures and you will see how. I tell you this to hope that you tighten your round pen up as tight as possible and make it safe. You know horses; where there's a way to get hurt, they will find it.

Even tightened up, there is room for the hoof and leg to fall down on the pin so we are looking to put something over this...Any suggestions?? There are plastic caps you can buy but only for the very top...wouldn't help the middle for those little legs.

So glad your horse is ok!

You could use the mesh garden fencing to wrap around the front of it, top to bottom. Then there will absolutely no room for any legs anywhere. We use cattle paneling for most of the farm and do the same with it because the same thing can happen there. Just enough room for legs to get caught, and worse, heads.
Sorry this happened to your mini and I know just how scary it is!. We had this happen once with the smaller "hog" panels and luckily we were right there and were able to free the horse. In our case, the mare got her hoof caught in an even smaller space in a gate made for these same panels and was stuck and struggling. What we have done (vet's advice) was to take a piece of PVC pipe and tape it across the top of the opening. In our case, we felt we only needed to do that in the one place because that was the only place a mini could actually get their hoof stuck. In your case, you might try good old duct tape across each of the "joints". That would at least help prevent injury from the metal pins. Another thing we do with our large round pen panels is put deer netting across them so the horses don't stick their head through. That might help prevent them rearing and coming down on a joint too.

Yep, I agree, no matter how safe something seems, horses seem to ALWAYS find a way to get hurt.
I knew I had seen them somewhere, and while I don't know if these were the ones I saw originally, this company makes safety caps for gaps in panels:

I have square corner panels for my round corral, so this is less of an issue; but I do use portable panels with round corners elsewhere.
Wow how scarey!

Only suggestions I can offer, is to cover the pins with something top and bottom, to prevent them from peircing themselves with them (it can happen even to the biggies). As far as the spaceing. You could dig the ground a bit to make it sit a bit leveler, or wire the part that has a big gap, to close it further. Or what I'd do is get some of that material like they use for stall mats, and just go around the whole pen with it. Not sure where to find it though, but I know we have two big rolls of it, here at the ranch. But I don't know where they got it, it was here before we moved here. But we've lined the alley and a few crowd pens with it.

And yep on the getting hurt thing. I had a mare slice her chest open when she was assing around in the mud and slid into our feed room wall.
I just wanted to add that I have a dear friend that experienced a horrible accident with these type of panels. Somehow, her mare lost her eye due to one of the pins.

I also had a terrible accident in a round pen but mine has the chains and is very tight but somehow one of my geldings pulled the round pen panel up in the air and the piece where the chain wraps around the metal actually sliced his face right down to the bone. I've used this round pen for years before and after with no other incidences so you just never know.
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We still don't know exactly how, but this type of panel arrangement caused a gloved injury to a full-size mare's at a boarding facility I had my horses at in CO, she ended up needing about half of her tail amputated. At least that was our best guess as to how she injured herself.
I had a neighbor 30 years ago lose an AQHA stud colt to panels like that. He was (piecing it together as it happened when no-one was out) playing, reared up and got one foreleg in between the panels then slipped and fell, dislocating the joints in his leg. By the time he was found he was in shock and by the time they got him out and the vet got there he was gone. My neighbor pulled the pins and clamped the panels together then bolted pipe across the openings so that legs could not enter the openings. There are so many ways our horses can find to injure themselves. Kinda like baby proofing your home!
Have seen the same thing happen with the pipe gate pannel that use chain to fasten to a post. A weanling QH got leg over gate and between the opening. When they fall, these panels of course wedge the leg tighter as they're hanging from it upside down. Thank goodness a bolt cutter was handy. Love these panels for their safety.....but have seen this happen so many times. The square ended panels are now what we buy. But covering those openings on the rounded panels is very important. Or can get rid of the pin to fasten them and just wire/attach them to each other so no gap present. I great horsemen told me as a kid...."horses were born to commit suicide." Of all my years around horses, have learned how true that is. They will find anyway possible to get themselves in trouble and their flight instinct usually makes the situation much worse instead of waiting calmly for help. Glad all turned out well for you in the end. And thanks for sharing this with all of us for learning purposes.
I hope he's okay now! I bring my mini to run around in the riding arena and the gates are the exact kind as yours--maybe I shouldn't do that anymore--Thanks for the warning A long time ago at a rodeo a horse was going crazy and got its leg stuck in a gate like that and it had to cancel its run and I remember seeing blood. Not a pretty picture. sad.

Thanks again!
I don't really think round pens were made for turnout... They are just made for working a horse in. Horses tend to roll and do silly things when turned out... So a very safe stall or pasture should be used.

I really hope your little guy is on the mend?
I don't use panels for turnout areas for this reason. I do have one steel gate that could have the same result if a horse were to rear up and get his legs over the top--so that gate has a plank nailed across the top from post to post.

it is a job trying to look at everything on the place and figure if and how a horse can get himself into trouble on anything!!
We had the same thing happen to a little stallion a few years ago, fortunately my boarder was here and saw it happen. He was caught and hanging by his pastern - only a 31" horse - and she could not free him. He managed to get himself loose, and we feared his leg was broken, but tough little begger, he was ok within a couple of days. If I had to buy another round pen I'd sure buy the square top panels.

We have never, ever left horses of any age or size in the round pen alone. And for extra measure we hung rubber belting all around for safety, and on the upper half of the pen a continuous roll of horse wire. I have a few panels here and there and always put something on them so the horses can't get their heads through the panels bars, or reach under to get at weeds. Most of our gates have PVC halves or 2 X 4 boards to block any way a horse can get a leg through or reach through. We also cap off the bottoms of gate legs with metal fence caps, or fence out around the areas we can't cover, like the rods and wire for our solar electric panel. I cap any T-posts, put bolt cap ends on any gate bolts, the list is endless on places where they can get into trouble. Duct tape is another big feature around here. I have also used metal roof edgers to cover the top of anything wood to prevent the start of any chewing, but we use mostly metal pipe since it is safer.

Even so we still had a gelding that walked the bottom of the horse fence getting weed scraps and ruined the bottom wire. I was afraid he would somehow end up with his hoof stuck anyway so the electric wire was installed. I get paranoid about nails, screws, or anything sharp sticking out of anywhere.

Reminds me of finding one of our yearling colts (Quarter Horse) with his head stuck in the top of a feeding trough that weighed more than him, about 200 ft from where it was attached to the breezeway! I still haven't figured out how he did that, or why. He was just a little sore for a week, but it sure scared us. They always find a way.

Sure hope your little guy is fine.
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Thanks for all the great replies! Yes my little Timber man is just fine. He escaped with two minor cuts and sore joints. He's back to being his sparky self just a week later. We were lucky. Lots of fantastic ideas to consider! Thanks again everyone. This just goes to prove that no matter how safe you think it is, horses try to kill themselves everyday and it's our job to stop them lol. Do they make horse-sized industrial strength bubbles to insert the horses into? ?? Ha...I wish! Thanks again!!
Maybe you could cut something out of old tires and bolt it across the gap. Would probably be cheaper if you could get it cut correctly.
I heard of the same thing happening but in this case the horse broke its leg and was put down
That's why I don't have one on the place for bigs or minis. The safest way I've found for a round pen is good ole boards.
Just when you think something is safe, it isnt!!! I dont let my horses go in the roundpen for turn out though...they have a pasture to play in most of the day. My stomach turns everytime i see one of these storys. But, come to think, some of my horses fall when we are working, and one day its not if, its when, a horse gets stuck under a panel. I have been thinking about putting those wood panels (i dont know what they are called LOL) inside of the round pens, but just on the bottom half so that they can still see out when they are running but not have a chance of getting a leg caught in a panel or falling under it....i dont know if its a good idea or if its worth it???
Aww I'm so sorry! Glad he's okay though. A horse can always find a way to get hurt lol. I don't use those kinda panels..... I use Security panels for my round pen and there held together with T-post and 5 foot high. No little hoof can get through there. Maybe to fence up the places get some chicken wire or something? And wire it to the panels, it'll keep him from getting into holes or rearing up and getting stuck....