Fence Part 3- Gates

The subject of fence generally leads eventually to discussing gates.

Gates are an important feature on a farm. Where you place them can mean the difference between long walks or easy access, and/or washed out channels that run like a creek or solid soil and grass that resists erosion.  Having two points of access is always a good idea as you may need a larger opening for equipment used occasionally than you want to deal with every day.

If you have gates close together it will also save you steps if you lead horse in pairs for turn out. By positioning  gates so they are located in the same area but opening in different directions across a separating aisle way,  you can create a chute that allows you to move animals between fields without having to catch them.

The bottom line is give some real thought to gates before you start placing posts. And don’t think “those extra 10 steps won’t amount to much” – think of those extra steps every day twice a day and you’ll probably alter the location of the gates and possibly the design of your fields. At least one access gates should be sized (if possible) so that regularly sized farm equipment can move easily through them (generally, 14-16 feet is a safe bet).

Not only are there many different types of gates but also many different kinds of latches.  You can have automatically closing latches that have spring metal sides, bolts or hooks or simply a chain.  As with anything there are pro and cons to all of them.

One thing to keep in mind is around horses the fewer things that stick out even a few inches- the better so look carefully at latches that have bolts to make sure they can be secured back and won’t catch on legs or impale an excited horse.

Here a few examples of some latches


One of the lost arts of modern times (along with face to face conversation and the thank you note :))  seems to be correctly hanging a gate. I cannot tell you the times I have ended up heaving up a sagging gate in an effort to latch it at even the most elaborate horse farms. This is a GREAT and simple video to show you how to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.


And this one shows you how it is done in other parts of the world (and it is just fun to listen to!)


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Shelly Ingram

I am a third generation horsewoman; My father operated a 50 horse boarding and training facility in northern California, where he specialized in re-training spoiled horses. I was his demonstration rider and general assistant in all aspects of running the ranch. I went on to work for several major show and race horse trainers, eventually opening my own barn where I focused on Junior and Amateur riders. I have trained numerous champion horses and riders on all levels and in variety of disciplines. I have also worked as a journalist and have more than a decade of experience in land use planning.

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