How to tag a corral?

Posted by valhikes on 15 March 2023 in English (English).

Just looking it up as a corral only found this one person asking how to, but they are actually describing an arena. When I was a camp counselor for a summer and generally did the horse units, there was one advanced unit that did an overnight ride. We rode to a place with an arena and made do with that to keep the horses overnight. It doesn’t have the watering and feeding station common to these, but plenty of room to keep nearly 3 dozen horses from running off, including the one that would untie any knot no matter how complicated.

It can’t be just a western US thing. You find them all over on Forest Service maps as a little dotted square with “corral” written next to them. They’re on USGS too. The #1 answer on the question refers to this Riding page on the wiki, but then gets the wrong answer for this or a corral. It might match another sort of corral, maybe.

A “corral” is a temporary space for keeping stock animals. They really come in two types although they are marked the same on the USFS and USGS maps. The type that’s most important to me to map is usually smaller, just a fenced box with a gate on one side. There’s usually a trough for water and a bit of wire to hold a bit of alfalfa. Sometimes there’s a spigot. (It’s a good idea to assume these are non-potable water.) The second type is for collecting herded animals, such as cows or sheep. These are usually larger and more elaborate, having a long arm of fencing that funnels the animals into the enclosure. There is often a ramp for loading the animals into a truck. This second is probably known to those who need to know it and the general public would only be looking up “what is that?”, but the first is an amenity that someone might be searching for.

Part of the answer

Turns out I shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss that Riding page just because it hasn’t got “corral” in it anywhere. Down toward the bottom is a tourism=trail_riding_station, which is exactly what I was wanting. So now I can get on with tagging a few.

Someone carefully marked all the fencing on the one at Soap Creek Corral, but not the 5-8 gates. I’m not feeling enthusiastic enough to add in the gates. I marked the area and tagged it. The area seems to vanish from selectable things in iD, but I can find it in JOSM. I’m not sure this is something that comes up on this horse centered map, which is a problem with the map, if you ask me. Anyway, there’s not been enough time to be sure.

While marking off the many corrals along NM-15 in Gila National Forest, I found that TJ Corral had it’s corral marked as an area of fence that was also tagged “man_made=corral”, which is not an option that appears in the Key:man_made wiki page. Another person who knows my pain and made up a tag in desperation! (Well, man_made can take any value after all.) I do think the “trail riding station” is more specific in a useful way, though. There’s a little over 300 of these corrals vs. nearly 1300 trail riding stations. (Since it looks like most of those are this person, they were probably feeling this pain a bit more.)

Still questioning

That still leaves the other sort of corral, the sort that animals are herded into, but still “temporary accomodation” in the words of the Riding wiki page, to label. Suggestions on that arena described as a corral were: landuse=animal_keeping, animal_keeping=horse, animal_keeping:type=paddock. Whatever a paddock is. Apparently there’s a difference of opinion between the English speakers and the German writing the wiki page. I’ve encountered the word, but not entirely sure what it means. Something horse-y, a place to keep. It probably doesn’t apply anyway.

Tried something like that at the sheep corral on Lizard Head Pass. Pretty sure it’s not correct. What would be? iD suggests landuse=animal_enclosure as an option, but there’s nothing in the wiki about this. What talk I can find about it is tagging in zoos. Here is a cow corral in Pueblo Park that I’ve made a similar attempt at. (Didn’t tag it fixme like the first.) It feels at least fairly correct except maybe the type.

Looks like this might just get called a “pen”, but seems far too general to be useful as well as not capturing the essential feature that keeping animals here is only temporary. Using that as a thread to pull, I come to “farmyard=stockyard” which “is an area used to temporarily hold livestock, generally with many fences”. This seems like it’s getting close. But this comes from “landuse=farmyard”, but there are no dwelling or other buildings. This is public land! Public Department of Agriculture, land of many uses, land. Maybe this is still closer to what I want? Nothing is certain.

Location: X S X Ranch, Grant County, New Mexico, United States

Comment from SK53 on 16 March 2023 at 20:46

Not horses, but similar queries were raised about sheepfolds (with contributions from Greece, Iran and UK). I’ve also noted stone (?) enclosures for cattle in high-altitude areas of Lesotho. There’s a nice article here on the various uses of sheepfolds.

Wikipedia mungs together a whole range of different things under Pen (enclosure) which is not particularly helpful. I therefore agree that “pen” is probably too wide-ranging, and I think the other key thing is that we are looking to tag structures well away from farmyards. I don’t think corral as a tag would be too bad.

It’s a shame that old USGS maps really capture little other than the homestead of old ranches. There must have been more obvious infrastructure.

Comment from valhikes on 17 March 2023 at 17:17

These are amenities in current use, not just historic artifacts. I expect that the corrals by trailheads and in campgrounds host horses, mules, llamas, goats, donkeys, and a few others I’ve not thought of. The one at Soap Creek Corral (linked above) had two mules and a horse. One of the mules was very particular about when breakfast should be and kicked the metal bars when it was late. The sheep corral on Lizard Head Pass (linked above) is part of open grazing that currently occurs and the sheep get rounded up into it every year. I believe they start there when they are brought up in the spring, too. Here’s information on open grazing in Klamath National Forest, including rangeland maps. It’s not related to the sheep, just one I know has online information.

“Sheepfolds” are definitely a good clue and the article you linked is helpful. (I can confirm it’s not a word in much use is the USA.) There are a few places called “stone corral” and I can think of one actual stone corral in the Flat Tops Wilderness in Colorado which looks a lot like these. It is also historic, but there was unlikely to be a homestead nearby. It’s in the one area where it’s hard to find water. It’s very like “on the high fell” and perhaps was for shelter rather than rounding up. The article mentions “gathering pens” on “otherwise unenclosed land”, which is a very close parallel to corrals of the second sort on National Forest land. We have a lot of open grazing and the fees vastly undercut ranchers, so it’s not likely to stop.

That help link describes some of the problems with the mapping. Like the sheepfolds have been mapped as stone walls, the corrals have been mapped as fence. However, just showing that there’s an arrangement of fence it’s very good for someone searching for what that arrangement of fence builds. It makes a good case for using a “man_made” tag.

USGS even fails a bit at capturing the current homesteads. I decided to hike a little way up a river fork and see what might be of an old grave they had marked. I walked around one ranch to the site between two more ranches only to find there was another ranch in between.

Anyway, I’ve made the mistake of poking around Overpass to see what people are using “trail_riding_station” for. Someone in Riverside, California has used it for staging locations that are probably day use only, judging by how much urban is nearby. I’m sure that’s similar to OHV staging in that it just accommodates a trailer so you can park and get out your toys/animals. There’s no temporary accommodation. A lot of buildings (stables?) and arenas have the tag in Europe. I see whole compounds that offer trail riding to the public tagged as this. Maybe, as it is a “tourism” tag, this is what it was meant to be? If so, that isn’t captured by the wiki entry. There’s one probable swimming pool in Texas.

I should probably wander over to the forum and make an attempt there.

Comment from valhikes on 17 March 2023 at 22:01

The wiki page doesn’t mention this, but “tourism=trail_riding_station” is an inactive tag. The proposal makes it clear this should be applied to any place giving accommodation to visiting horses.

Talk under amenity=hitching_post suggests amenity=horse_parking + horse_parking=box (see trail riding station for a picture of a box, it says). Although it says horse parking was already in the database, it redirects to amenity=animal_hitch, use access tags to say which animal (horse=designated), and the more elaborate parking of a “box” no longer has room. Or perhaps it does with a little imagination: animal_hitch=corral (vs. ring, rail, or post). (Or box as suggested, or fenced.)

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