Safety is the No. 1 concern when choosing panels. Here are three things to keep in mind when you shop.
Say no to cattle panels or those with round corners. Panels that are rounded at the corners and have a connector pin, like those designed for cattle, are a huge hazard for horses. If a horse rears up or attempts to jump out of the enclosure, his foot could become stuck in that space, and it’s nearly impossible to release the pin to free the horse’s leg, because the horse’s weight is on the pin. Use panels that are made specifically for horses—and are straight across at the top where each panel connects—to avoid this traumatic situation.
Get panels that match your horse’s stature and how you’ll use them. If you have a big, stout gelding, he’ll make easy work of destroying a corral made of lightweight panels. Also, will you use the panels just for travel, meaning you’ll have to lift them on and off the trailer to transport them? Or will you use them for a permanent round pen?
Check the underside of each rail. Look for a bevel on the underside of each rail on a panel, or for a solid-pipe construction. A rail that’s shaped like an upside-down U is a vet call waiting to happen. If your horse kicks out or darts off, he could clip his fetlock on that unfinished edge, causing serious injury.