Nothing is more frustrating than fighting with a gate. Whether you have a rowdy youngster on a lead rope or the most docile horse standing next you, struggling with a gate is a hassle. It can also pose a safety hazard—for you and your horse.
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There’s a variety of gate styles to choose from—from electric to mesh to pipe or wooden style gates. Safety is always the number one priority. If you’ve decided it’s finally time to upgrade the gates at your farm, here are a few tips for selecting and installing one that’s safe and easy to use.
“I prefer the mesh type steel gates,” said Norman, Oklahoma, architect Lachlan Oldaker. “I think they are safer than pipe or wooden gates.”
Steel tubular stock gates with a fine steel mesh interior are pricey and can be quite a bit heavier than most gates, but the mesh prevents a horse from slipping a leg through the rails and can avoid injury.
Holly A. Matt, CEO/Head of Design of Pegasus Design Group, LLC, encourages clients to purchase well-made steel pipe panels, but never recommends electric wire gates because of the potential for the horse or handler to get tangled.
“There’s nothing wrong with using a hot wire with a solid fence, but not alone,” she said.
Oldaker recommends making gate areas wide enough to drive through with vehicles, tractors and mowing equipment. Typically, there isn’t grass around the gate areas, so installing a grid mat covered by gravel screenings can help keep the area from becoming muddy.
“Make sure the hinges and hinge gate posts are heavy duty and sized to handle the weight of the gate,” she said. “If not sized properly, the gate will sag.”
Latch style is as important as the gate itself. Latches need to be sturdy to keep the horses from opening gates on their own, but simple enough to work with one hand or to open quickly in an emergency.
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