It's here! The ultimate mustang gentling set up. I spent a long time researching and plotting and drawing and scheming and spreadsheeting to make this the most efficient, convenient and cost effective mustang gentling solution. I'll lay out the journey and the thought process and then include instructions and links on what I ultimately ended up doing.
Phase One: The USS Enterprise design
I've seen a lot of gentling pens that have a round pen and then an aisle that attaches to individual runs, so this was my first design attempt.
I also was particularly fond of the similarities to the shape and design of the spaceships of Star Trek because I'm a #hugenerd. So I started drawing out my pen, complete with saucer section (round pen) and the horse runs lining the aisle, or "neigh-celles" as I liked to call them (see what I did there?). It is a great design, but I would only be able to house four mustangs with the amount of panels which wouldn't increase my current capacity. So as much as I wanted to espouse federation values onto my furry recruits, I had to go to the dark side. I'm talking full Borg efficiency. Enter the Borg cube.
Maximum Borg Efficiency
For all you non-nerds out there, the Borg are an evil collective who kidnap and assimilate species
from all over the galaxy against their will into mindless drones. This is not the vibe I am going for with my mustang gentling program and is a very bad metaphor for what I'm trying to do here. A lot of training programs may turn these magnificent wild beasts into mindless automatons who do what they're told and nothing else, but that's not what we're about at wild ride. We don't "break" horses here. We offer them a choice to opt in to domestic life and they usually do. Anyway, the borg are known for their hive mind level efficiency and specifically, for their giant cube shaped ships lined with regeneration cells for the drones, which is actually a pretty accurate description of the layout I came up with.
What is Unimatrix Zero?
In the Borg world, all drones are assigned a designation, such as seven of nine, tertiary adjunct of unimatrix zero one. The unimatrices seem to represent different departments, sections or cubes. However, there is also a "unimatrix zero", which is the Borg dream world where the drones are able to explore their individuality in safety and comfort. First of all, this is the vibe I'm trying to create. Second of all, seeing these crazy ideas come to fruition is a dream come true for me, and I ugly cry happy tears every time I think about it.
Okay, here's the actual design
The overall dimensions including the stalls are 72x72'. The design includes a 48x48 working space surrounded by 6 individual runs measuring 12x36 each. There are two extra 12x12 stalls (one in the entry way, and one in the back).
We graded the area for optimal drainage and ran a trench around the cube for water to drain away from it. We were planning on putting in french drains and covering it up, but I kind of like having a moat, tbh.
First we laid down geotextile underlayment fabric used for making roads and driveways to prevent the footing from disappearing into the mud. We used recycled asphalt millings that we found on good old facebook marketplace. It was $375 per dump truck and we needed six loads which gave us a good 5-6" deep.
Panels and Gates
We had two 6' tall 60' round pens to start with, so we ordered a 3rd to give us enough panels to make this design. We bought them from Chubby Baird Gate Company who were super helpful. I initially designed it to work with the 6' gate that comes with the round pens, but Rance explained that they wouldn't line up correctly to create a square because they're closer to 7 feet once you include the hardware. So he fabricated some panel/gate combos with an overall length of 12 feet and shipped them half way across the country and they were here within 3 days! They also have the best pricing around and we did a lot of research on that. This isn't a paid advertisement and they don't even know this blog exists, but they definitely deserve a shout out.
We had initially planned to use the Shelterlogic Corral Shelters for each stall, but they are backordered everywhere and we couldn't find any beyond the three we already had, so we had to get creative. We found 12x20 carports on amazon. We were sure they'd be pretty flimsy but they offered a 5 year replacement warranty and we knew they'd be attached to heavy duty panels which would reinforce the structure, so we bought two of them. So far, so good. They've held up under some seriously heavy wind gusts over 40 mph, but I wouldn't recommend them unless they're anchored to extremely heavy corral panels.