"A horse is like a mirror, and it's reflecting what and who you are."

This is just a little diary of my horse life. I teach natural horsemanship and dressage. I am currently working on getting back to L4 Parelli after a car accident and surgery.

I suffered from a fear of failure, as things had not gone according to planned after my time off from my injuries. It had been an paralyzing disability (fear) but my healing is coming along nicely, and I hope to pass my level 4 before the end of 2011.

I don't know where I am going, but I am NOT lost!

I am now reviewing dvd's and books, and blogging my reviews. The link on the left in the categories (DVD Clinician Reviews)will take you straight to it. You will find links to the websites of all dvd clinicians I review and they are located on the left hand side bottom of page of the page. None of the clinicians or trainers I am reviewing, sponsor, endorse or authorize this site. For more info about them please click on thier link.

I hope you enjoy!

Savvy On,

I will be giving Savvy Star Ratings based soley on my opinion of it's value to a parelli student as such

***** Must own

**** Must watch

*** Worth watching, but you won't die without it

** Eh' take it with a grain of salt, you will have to filter alot

* OK, but there is better stuff out there to spend your time and money on

0 stars....skip it, it just isn't worth your time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How I built a cheap and portable Round Pen.

The Picadero.....is DONE!!!! Check it out!

Total Cost: $118
Total time to Build: 5 Hours
Ease of use and relocation: EASY
Enjoyment level of use: Unconditionally, exponentially, limitless!

Now of course this is as 'low tech' and 'cheap' as I could get it done.....but it is functional and should provide me many hours of enjoyment as I explore the..... Waterhole Rituals / Hempfling / PNH L4 Liberty / Clicker training .... further this summer, and I am dying to get started.  Compared to the cost of a pipe panel round pen which can run from $600-$1200 this is a cost effective alternative.  I also considered 8x 20ft cattle panels at $25ea plus the cost of clips to connect them $20 would be cost effective, but not as easily moved from one location to another, BUT easier than a pipe panel pen to move for sure.  This is also a great way to NOT have to try to pound or beat a post into rock hard ground filled with rock hard ROCKS.

So here I am, with my limited but growing knowledge of cement, and may even have become the "expert" on cheap round pen construction....ROFLMAO!!!! HA HA HA

So Here are the two first buckets, that were suppose to be, mix in one, pour into/set-up/pop-out in the other....but I messed up by using too much water and created two $10 posts.  As each of 'these' buckets were $5 ea plus $3 ea for the posts plus $4 for a bag of cement.  The rest of the posts are much cheaper as I found cheaper buckets.  Gotta LOVE Wal-mart.

These buckets are found in the paint department.  The larger handle buckets were $1.83 each and the smaller ones were $.89 each.  I bought 12 for a total of  $14.65 + tax.  This makes my bucket purchase total = $25.  The step in poly posts were $3 x 14 = $42 and the electric tape was $30 for a 656ft roll and I bought 7 bags of 2/3 cubic foot size, cement at $4 bag = $28....However, with finding smaller buckets, I only used a total of 3 bags  = $12 for cement. That brings my total investment to $109 + $9 tax = $118 for a portable round pen/picadero.  Not bad huh?

Now as for ease of construction and time spent, it only took me 3 hours total to mix the cement and fill 14 buckets.  Time spent making my 10 foot strands of tape, that took me 2  hours, but that included time spent screwing up and starting over, but I think we can count it accurate. And after 24hrs set time, I am good to go set it up in it's designated area.  As for my mom's parking spot.....too bad ~ so sad ~ mama!
Don't forget to read the end for my corrections to my mistakes.

Now there is assuredly an even cheaper way to do this.  I was thinking supplement buckets, while coveted as feeding buckets, I am sure one could beg all your friends for their used buckets when they are done with them, plus your own, would take no time at all to collect 14 of them.  If one used poly hay bailing twine, you could round that up all over the place for free as well.  I have over a years worth bagged up in my back yard, and you are welcome to come by and take all you want....;). Cement is pretty cheap with small buckets, but sand or dirt could possibly do in a pinch, just would not survive the winter rains.  One could even get fancy and use potting soil and add flowers I guess.  That just leaves the matter of the posts.  I am sure there are alternatives to $3 fencing stakes, and I am sure one could be creative in this department as well.  Just don't ask me, if I could have thought of a cheaper way, I would have done it.  All in all, I would have to say that if you were creative and resourceful, I bet you could do this for free! 12 posts set 10ft apart makes a 30ft  square picadero or a 40 foot pen.
Don't forget to read the end for my corrections to my mistakes. It's pretty funny.

This type of construction allows for all types of terrain and shapes, and one does not need worry about the condition of the ground (for construction sake not horse soundness sake) or having a friend nearby every time it needs to be moved. Also, by having short 10ft strings looped to each post, you forgoe the headache of sagging lines, and a night mare of night mare when taking apart or changing shape or just moving part of it to use the space as a parking lot!  Using one long line can be a pain in the rear, and if a horse goe thru it, there is a better chance of it just popping apart, rather than stringing along behind them.  On THAT note, one does need a horse to respect fences for this to be advantageous and safe.  I would not recommend putting a flighty frightened horse in a pen like this, nor would I leave a horse unsupervised in it.  As always, use your head, and put both you and your horses safety first....and fun should follow.....not vet or hospital bills.  If desired, you could hook this up to a fence charger and actually use the electric tape as designed, but now you have to consider the cost of that, and the fact that in a small space, a horse being jolted with electicity is not a great idea with you inside.  Also, since you SHOULD be using this pen to create harmony and confidence in your horse, I do not know how 'comfortable' a horse might feel if he is worried about getting electrocuted.  Use your brain and choose wisely when it comes to electricity.  Ok now that the public safety announcement is over.....here are some links to where you can purchase similar items on-line:
step in poly posts
highly visible electric tape 656ft roll

What you need: Obviously, buckets, cement, posts, water and string....but other than that:
Scissors, a wheel barrel or sturdy man to carry said cement bags.  Weak men crumble like paper, so if that is all you got, you may as well do it yourself.  Your mothers sturdiest cooking spoon. I own mine, but since I stole it from my mom 15ys ago, I thought i would share the resource.  Plastic butter tub for scooping dry cement. Bout 1 cup size, anything bigger is too big and too hard to handle, anything smaller just makes more work.  Something for your posts to lean against while drying if you made your cement too soupy.  I cannot stress this enough.  Think ahead, because when you have wet cement that you percieve to be drying at lighting speed, panic tends to set in quicker that cement sets up.  Which by the way is 12hours.  Chill, you got time....once your done mixing.  Just don't touch the posts once you have placed them in the cement.  Unless they fall, jiggling them will just make them jiggly after it is set....literally in stone.

How to tie so it makes a loop at the end of string, but won't come undone.

Tips of things to keep in mind:

The cat will not get out of your way, as if they just know that you will go around.

Do Not Park your work station or tools near the cactus.

The cactus will not get out of your way, as if it just knows that you will go around.

Do not let the cat lay near the cactus.

Wear a painters mask.  If you do not, then make sure to keep tissue near by to blow your nose often.

Wear gloves as the lye in the cement will dry your hands quickly and instantly.

Watch out for the cat.

Do not put lotion on, and immediatly work with dry cement.

Leather birkenstocks and cement do not mix.  Wear rubber flip flops so you can rinse your legs often.

Watch out for the cactus.

Cement dust gets everywhere. Do not just dump one bucket of dry cement into another.  Pour it slowly.  Don't worry if you forget this one, the cement will remind you quickly and you will only make that mistake once.  you will then be reminded of the need for tissue!

Rinse your tools and work station in between the making of each bucket, while it may take 24hrs to set up in the bucket, it will quickly harden in small quantites on/in other things.

Do not assume your post will be 'stuck' in the cement and carry it over your foot.  Don't worry, you will only have to do that once to remember it.  Luckily I have not had to deal with that, mine are in, but you never know, so i thought i would mention it.

Always know where the cactus is!

Damn Cat!

You may find it benificial to not put your work station directly underneath a hornets nest.  The theme here is to be aware of your surroundings....and who is occupying it.  As you will want to do this in a well ventilated area.  PS....well ventilated = wind, and it will always be blowing directly towards your face when ever there is a cement dust cloud in front of it!

Beware where you grab things, as dogs think these are great for peeing on!

Don't use too much water, you can always ADD more water, but you cannot ever take it OUT!

Stir quickly!

Do not let your horses investigate during the first 12hs.....cement is permenant and if they knock the post over inside the cement.....It will be stuck that way by morning.

Make sure to bring drinking water with you.  You will likely get very thirsty.

Have a couple extra buckets, and start by filling small buckets first.

When making strings.....measure twice, cut once, measure again!

There is a limit to the number of things you can hold in your hands all at the same time.  You would hate to drop something, reach for it, and instead get a handful of cactus.  Especially when tripping over the cat!

Frozen yogurt does NOT taste as good after a weekend in the freezer.  It has nothing to do with round pen construction.  I just thought it was worth mentioning.

I found it helpful to put a 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the small buckets, 1 inch of water in the big buckets, then cement, then water as needed while stirring.  As for how much water.....well....that is a learn as you go kinda thing.  i just had a bucket of water to pour from....a hose is not reliable AND the pressure blows dry cement in your face.  By the By.....lots of things will blow dry cement in your face....including a nosey horse snorting in the bucket. Cha'Cote was quite side kick as I worked.

Mistakes and Corrections;
Last but not least.....plan on paper first and double check your math.  I don't know how I did this, but even though I planned this out in detail, many times prior to commencement of supply purchase and construction, somehow I managed to screw up my math.  Originally I planned on 2 buckets and to pop the cement out when set, yet, as described above they didn't pop out.  So when I went to purchase more, I bought 12...thus making 14 posts in all.  Where I can't figure out how I made my other mistake though, is how I just so happened to have 14 stakes.  Hmmmm.  THEN.....Oh yes, there is more.....trust me when I say, when done and set up, I stood there bewildered at my blunder.  So I already told you about my 9ft length of string mishap....this is incredibly stupid......10 feet was wrong too.  Aparently, I had planned to make them 13ft, ie, 3 sections, yes 4 posts only make 3 sections......OR.....I failed to notice that 4 posts only make 3 sections.

THUS......4 posts per side with 10 foot sections will only yield a 30x30 square or 40ft round pen.  DUH....I just couldn't fathom making such a mistake on such simple SIMPLE math.  SO.......The correction to the plan is this.  IF you want a 40x40ft square or 50ft round, you will need 12 post with 13.3 sections.......OR.....you will need 16 posts with 10ft sections.  And what's more, since I had already typed this thing up, and have absolutely NO intention to go back and make THAT many corrections.....YOU.....can change the math on the money for the total cost.  So far, my correction for now, is to use my house as one side of the pen, until I can get to the store to buy 2 more buckets and stakes.  The good news is that I have plenty of cement and string left to correct the mistake.  All in all, it should only cost me another 9 bucks, and another trip to the store to fix it.

PS....yes....the cat and the cactus are conspiring against you.  They even recruited the dog!

PPS.........Ignore the dog in the pic....he is in trouble in the moment for hiking his leg on the couch.....damn dog

Savvy On
the math challenged moron.


  1. Super! Love the tips - sounds like it was quite an adventure!

    I made a similar round pen with the same posts (although I stuck mine into the ground). Unfortunately I learned the hard way that playing at Liberty for the first time in such a pen with a very opinionated, very confident LBI draft horse will teach her more about her ability to push through fences than about connection at Liberty. And taught me that fences either need to be sturdy enough not to push through or breakable. *sigh* Biggest mistake I've made yet, as it has created a monster.

    I wish you luck and look forward to reading about your new picadero adventures!

  2. Ha ha! The great concrete adventure! Excellent. I might have to just be a copy cat and try it myself!

  3. Great blog! Thanks for sharing the savvy. How is this round pen going?

    Isabelle. Parelli Volunteer

  4. I am not talking about early Christmas shopping and gift preparation or making special kinds of sandwiches, Round pen panels

  5. the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. The bodies of Martha and 13-year old Henry were recovered later that day. Edwin's body was not found until two days later. wood fence gate


I know I am not perfect.....so be nice!