Fence Part 2 — Design

If you are starting with a bare piece of property planning the layout of your fence means more than selecting a fence type.  Several factors must be considered. These include:

  • aesthetics,
  • chore efficiency,
  • management practices,
  • safety, and
  • last but not least- finances.

In these days of Google maps it is relatively easy to get an overhead map of any property which allows you to draw your designs to scale. You can even use the Google distance measuring tool to do this so you have a pretty accurate idea of how much fence you will be installing. Your map layout should include proposed gates, fence lines, where fences cross streams or other obstacles, irregular paths along a stream or obstacle, traffic routes for horses and handlers, routes for supplies and water, vehicle traffic routes, and access for mowing equipment. All these should be in relation to your everyday work plan as it relates to buildings and other farm features.

As someone who has worked on many farms that were laid out by farm owners or designers (not those actually doing the work) I HIGHLY recommend giving a lot of thought to how much time it takes to walk to pastures and making this distance as short as possible.  If you have someone who does this work for you ask THEM for their layout ideas. What may seem like a ‘kinda’ long way when you do it once – rapidly turns into an endurance contest when you have to do it every day – twice a day. And even if you are set on getting your “steps” in for the day, think of the time you will waste walking long distances to turnout – a daily activity on many farms.

For most owners today, time is of the essence if you are an amateur and have an outside job, it is important to make your barn routine efficient. If you own a large stable time is also money because if your pastures are laid out efficiently it takes much less time and fewer people to operate your facility. Even if you have all the time, money and help you can use consider that at some point you may want to leave home for a few days and ease of operation can make the difference between having an easy time finding a “horse sitter” and never being able to leave the property.

Gates should be easy to operate with only one hand so the other hand is free. Take special notice of where you place your gates, they should be close to the barn but not located in a low spot. They should also be large enough that average sized farm equipment can fit through them this means 12 feet at the least and most probably 16 feet. If you prefer a smaller gate for easy of handling while you have a horse in tow, make sure you provide access to the pasture somewhere through a 16 foot gate to allow for future seeding, fertilizing and mowing.

More next week about hanging gates and ways gates can be used to create alleyways and catch pens.

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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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