View Full Version : Planning for new horse property - GATE WIDTHs

Fancy That
Jan. 19, 2009, 05:12 PM
We are about to close on our new little horse ranch! It's a blank slate right now (just has perimeter pasture fencing and a nice big tack shed/feed room)

Anyways - in planning for everything, I'm a big stickler on making sure that heavy equipment can get in and out and around all over the place.

So for gate size - which is ideal? I know 12 foot is common/popular, but do you wish you had more 16 ft gates?

I'm imagining having a large access/gate to get into: pasture, arena, paddock, stable-yard, etc with tractors/trucks, etc.

Anyone put a 12 footer in and wish it was bigger? Or is 16 ft overkill for these areas?

Of course, there will be a "regular size gate" too....so we don't alway have to open the big one. Just making sure we aren't limited with any large/heavy equipment/vehicles that may need to get somewhere on the property.

Jan. 19, 2009, 05:26 PM
We have two 14-foot gates (one to the paddock, one to the arena) and like the extra length, especially the entrance to our paddock/barnyard which is not a straight shot (a slightly curvy driveway) so the 14 foot gate easily accomodates a truck with large trailer coming around the curve. I don't think 12' would be large enough without being a lot more precise in the driving.

At the entrance to our pasture from the main road we have two 10-foot gates connected together. Our fencing still needs replacing there, so we haven't finished this gate, but when we do I think we will put in at least a 16' gate because anything smaller will be very difficult as the main road is narrow. When we had our arena built the trucks delivering materials could back into the 20' opening from the main road but I know they never would have been able to make it with a 14' gate. In fact, at one point the contractor had to refuse a truck, even with a 20' opening, because it had an extra long hauling trailer filled with materials and could not make the turn. When we finish this section of fencing we may stick with a 20' opening and either get two gates or one really long one.

So....I doubt you will ever think 16' is overkill unless you have to open/close it frequently for people or horse traffic; but if you have to back a horse trailer through it, you might appreciate the extra width. I put in a person gate for me to go through to get to the barn. It opens "in" and is only 3' wide. Even if I left it open, it would likely swing shut, and a horse would really have to work to escape without slamming the gate shut in front of them. It's my favorite thing so I don't have "gate panic" at 3am!

Jan. 19, 2009, 05:28 PM
Standard field gates here are 16'.
In some places we have two 16' gates.

Our pens are 14' wide, so that is what the gates there are.
12' would be very small for here and the miminum for cattleguards.

Caroline Weber
Jan. 19, 2009, 05:29 PM
Have at least one 16' gate to each pasture or riding arena so that you can get heavy equipment in there if needed. 16' is not too cumbersome for everyday use (turning out horses, etc.) Also spend the extra money on 2" diameter tubular metal gates rather than the lighter-duty ones. Well worth the money for the extra durability.

Jan. 19, 2009, 05:34 PM
If you think you'll ever need to have your fields sprayed for weeds or anything like that, go with 16' gates. I don't have them on my small paddock and the farm bureau can't get in with the 2,4-D, which is a huge bummer because it means I'm out there with a hand sprayer busting my butt for 2 hours over 2 acres while they do the big field (with a big gate) in 10 minutes. :lol:

Jan. 19, 2009, 05:38 PM
I went with 16' gates. I figure that you never know what you'll want to get into a field, and gate posts are huge and concreted in - you don't ever want to remove one. I am happy that I have nice, big openings.

One thing though: when you buy a 16' gate, it won't be 16'. Depending on the vendor, it will be 15'6" or 15'9" or some other measurement. Thus, if you stack two 8' gates (which is what I did), you might have two 7'6" gates and thus have only 15' of gate for your opening. So, buy your gates first, then plan your opening.

Jan. 19, 2009, 05:39 PM
DW is right about the 16' gate situations. And, you'll have to go wider if the truck can't get a straight shot through the gate.

If the biggest gate is also your main person pass-through area, make sure you create some sort of people gate right there as well so you don't have to be opening the big gate all the time.

My biggest gate is 16', then also a 14', both of which are THE 2 gates into the pasture area, opposite sides. I have 1 permanent cross-fence which is 12'. I think my ring gate is also 12'.

Fancy That
Jan. 19, 2009, 05:40 PM
as usual - bigger is better :)

I keep telling my SO that we'll need 16 foot gates for easy access with the "big stuff" I even like the idea of putting two 10 footers together to make a 20 foot opening for the areas where there is a bit of an angle to deal with.

And yes, love the idea of a "people gate" for easy in/out. And the regular horse sized gate, too.

But yes - I'm thinking ahead for if/when we need the biggest kind of equipment to get into our backyard, the paddock, the pastures and the arena.

Jan. 19, 2009, 05:41 PM
I should clarify--I have two 8-foot gates to my big pasture, not a single 16 footer. Much easier for day-to-day opening/shutting. I just use one gate routinely, and keep the other one fastened to the ground with blocks, which I can move if needed.

Jan. 19, 2009, 05:42 PM
We put a separate driveway in for our barn, when we bought this place. It has 32' of culvert, and two 16' gates that meet in the middle. We had eighteen wheelers come in to deliver building materials, and they were able to turn off of our rather narrow street with absolutely no problem. I thought the 32' culvert was overkill at the time, but my husband insisted. I'm delighted that he did. He did, after all, own his own trucking firm for more than a few years, and has logged over a million miles on the road himself. ;)

Jan. 19, 2009, 05:45 PM
Do consider a gate wheel or gate anchor for gates larger than 12' though...they help a whole lot to prevent gate sag. I have anchors on my 12' gates so when I swing them open and need them to stay open I can lower the push-pin on the anchor so it stabilizes the gate to keep it from stressing the hinges and so I don't have to drive through it at Mach 2 to prevent it from swinging shut on my truck, LOL!
Really wide gates I prefer the big gate wheels, although I'm not sure where you can buy those these days. Back when I was young we had 16' gates in the fields where I boarded and they all had one tall metal wheel on one end. You'd unlatch the gate and just push it and it would roll open and the wheel kept it from sagging too.

Jan. 19, 2009, 06:24 PM
Valley Vet carries the gate wheels-be sure to get the metal kind-they are much sturdier!
Misty Blue-flying thru the gate before it slams shut on your truck-mental image priceless!!

Jan. 19, 2009, 06:38 PM
I don't think that the width of a gate makes any difference for every day use.
We have 16' gates we use regularly and you only open them as much or little as you need to open them.
I can't see any need to add a smaller gate nearby.:confused:

Jan. 19, 2009, 07:53 PM
Every gate is 16 foot. If one gets busted we know exactly what to do .......... go to the fence parts area and get another. They are all exactly alike.

sixteen foot is also big enough to tie two pastures or paddocks together as they can span the lane and create a passage between the two. Just make the openings directly opposite eachother and hang the gates from opposite sides.

Jan. 19, 2009, 09:11 PM
I don't think that the width of a gate makes any difference for every day use.
We have 16' gates we use regularly and you only open them as much or little as you need to open them.
I can't see any need to add a smaller gate nearby.:confused:

I supposed I'm a bit jaded as none of my gates are on flat ground, they are all on slopes. So, wheels don't work in more than one position. I do keep the latch ends of the big gates propped up on blocks to the hinge side isn't stressed. It's too annoying to have to lift the gate off, open it, put it back on, every time I want to go through. I actually have electric tape, so I just duck between strands. I couldn't do that as easily if it was a wooden fence.

So, it's really more than about *just* the gate.

Jan. 19, 2009, 11:10 PM
I have 12' gates at the main fields, which are fortunately all "straight shots", if they were not I would REALLY regret not having 16' gates. At the front entrance we have two 16' gates which is essential as the fence is close to our very, very narrow road, with a significant slope at the edge, so to get in just with a 4 horse trailer means both 16' gates have to be wide open (you can't swing wide or the tailgate will lift up into the gooseneck, know what I mean?). These have been awesome for having tractor trailer loads of stuff delivered.


Jan. 19, 2009, 11:11 PM
I also have a 12' gate with a 4' gate right next to it.... lot less wear and tear on the posts having 4' of free weight as opposed to 12'.... and the 4' opens/swings more easily.... so we use the 4' gate and never open the 12'. It's only there for the Hay Guys....


Jan. 19, 2009, 11:45 PM
I have what Third Charm has and it's very nice. You almost never "over gate" on a farm so go for 16' in some form.

Enjoy your new farm!!

Jan. 19, 2009, 11:48 PM
Yes, I definatly like fences set up with a large gate for machinary and a 4' gate for people and animals. Makes life so much easier!

Jan. 19, 2009, 11:50 PM
Plan your traffic patterns, then put in gates that permit ease of use by equipment.

For straight entry into a flat pasture a 12 foot gate is adequate for virtually every type of equipment an average horse farm would routinely use.

For larger openings I'd rather use two 8's than one 16 in most instances, as I'm much more likely to be moving a horse or a vehicle than a large piece of equipement through most of the year. Consider, too, that 8's are a lot cheaper to replace when (not if) they get damaged.

There's no rule that says gates have to be equal. If you need a 20 foot opening it's perfectly OK to use a 12 and an 8. You could even use a 16 and a 4!!!

There's no rule that you can only have one gate into a pasture, either! :)

Put gates where they will be the most utilitarian, not necessarily the most pleasing to the eye.

But PLAN your layout and fencing first, then decide what kind of gates to use. :cool:

Good luck in your project.


Jan. 20, 2009, 01:02 AM
I would second the planning of gates BEFOREHAND, so you have the best usage of them. We have a LOT of gates for our acreage, they save time and steps. Farm gates are the same size except the 16ft road gate to the barn.

I have 14ft gates for all the fields and paddocks. Enough size to get in most equipment, allow the tractor and spreader to curve around the corner without hanging up on the posts. Also the tractor with a fertilizer spreader wagon, mower, drag or carriages with horses in front. Our delivery folks can manage to back into a paddock with a gravel train, not hit anything using 14ft gates. We have our own semi tractor with it's two different length trailers, which come thru the 16ft gate with no problem.

I didn't want the expense of 16ft gates. There was a HUGE jump in the price for that extra length, which added up to a lot with the quantity we needed. Our gates have blocks under them or latches to support the free end when closed. Saves gates bending out of square swinging in the wind over time. I HATE gates that don't swing, don't want to be dragging them open or shut. I do have a couple with the little wheels (TSC), and they are helpful. Other locations they are useless because of the ground level changes or the gate posts are too tight to fit the wheels inside.

We have two locations where there are a convergence of paddocks, so gate changes allow choices in turnout. Very nice, close to the barn, was good pre-planning in layouts.

Don't have any places where horses can reach over fences to touch, they often fight, strike, getting hurt in the fences. Double fence, or plan turnout with empty paddocks between horses. Make any lanes to a paddock wide, ours are 14ft, so horses in the lane are not crowded. Lanes are very handy across the narrow end of fields or paddocks, emptying into the last field. You can open gate across the lane to grazing, close off the other paddocks you don't want them in. From barnyard turnout, lane funnels horses where you want them with less work on your part leading them WAY out.

We have two 4ft gates, designed for people. One from the backyard to barn, one to a paddock. That paddock has an additional gate, 14ft, but further away. I would not put the 4ft paddock gate in again, too narrow for horses, so not a time saver. House gate is excellent location, use it all the time, but no horses allowed in the back yard! Gates have drop latches that support the free end which has a pin. Gates can be swung and will latch shut. Drop latches from TSC, also sold other places. Other gates have chains with toggles that go thru large eye bolts. Our horses don't bother the gates, so this works for us. Road gates usually are padlocked shut for safety.

I would change a few gates if I could. We put up half the fence before we put up the big barn and bought the neighbors field. Mostly though, gates are in good places, still work very well after all these years. We got the heavy gates, with the closely spaced bars at the bottom to prevent hooves thru. They were a good buy. I have seen some new gates with wire mesh over bars to prevent hoof thru, keeps dogs out too. Something to consider.

Jan. 20, 2009, 01:11 AM
I heartily agree with the larger than 12' gate spaces. We put in a new gate space that was 12', and I knocked the gate hanging post down the first time I tried to pull a trailer through it. Got the truck through fine, but wasn't quite straight enough to get the end of the trailer through safely.

Of course, I'm a lousy driver. :)

Jan. 22, 2009, 01:47 PM
Don't be Me :no:
My largest gates are 12' and I hold my breath every time hayguy brings his truck & wagon through with just millimeters to spare on either side.
The front gate hinges got torqued when an excavator brought in some equipment for after-the-fact gravel work.

A medium-sized tractor has no problem, but anything larger would.
In retrospect I wish I'd done paired 8' or larger gates for the big entries.

I do have some 4' gates situated for my ease in getting into/across pastures to the barn. With the narrower gate I don't have to worry about one of my horses teleporting himself out while it's open...they have this talent...

Before you decide, do draw out how you want the gates situated and then rethink & rethink again how it will work.
I wish I had added another gate or two and now the budget says "No Way!"

Jan. 23, 2009, 05:20 PM
Something that helped a friend, was laying out barn lines, gate openings, with flour or powdered lime on dry ground. Then taking the truck or tractor/spreader, seeing if you can drive around. How hard is it to make a corner, swing thru the gateway? Leaving tire tracks in the lime? Allow extra width if you get snow, for roof sliding clean, plowing pile up over a long winter. Can you turn the truck and trailer around or park it easily? Without hitting the lime lines? Or needing to come and back several times? Now is the time to widen routes, allow more barnyard room, BEFORE any building takes place.

Maybe have the builder come with a dump truck and trailer, then see how wide it turns, fills up your cute front entry way. Did you plan in a loose sawdust bunker, easy to dump in, with big truck?

I see lots of barns that look nice, work until those big trucks come to deliver hay, sawdust, grain, or you buy a bigger trailer. Can't make the curves or turn around now. Pickup or car won't be the only vehicle coming to the barn.

Suddenly the no-width drive with fencing, is a bottleneck, no one can fit or make the turn to get behind the barn. Not nice when you have to move things by hand, long distances or take the fence down to get someone back out to the road.

Last and worst, can a full-size firetruck get out there for a fire? You need an excellent driveway, good sub-surface to hold up the weight of a full truck, along with clear turning in curves or corners for the long body of vehicle. Also all the cars and trucks of the fire volunteers who are needed to man the hoses. I always tell folks, if you can't get the firetruck in to the barn, there is probably a lot of other things that won't get up the driveway either. And you will be sorry about that poor planning later.

Jan. 23, 2009, 06:13 PM
Never use 8' gates - always too small. I have a couple 10' gates, 12' gates and do double gates of 16' made by 2 - 8' gates.

Jan. 23, 2009, 08:08 PM
This farm has ony 1 short gate. Everything else is 16 footers. Well, one is 20 , composed of two tens with a movable center support.

A word of advice. Never allow a not closed gate to hang and swing free on its hinges. In wood posts the hinges rotate, and then you end up re-hanging. Always in the rain or snow!!!

Jan. 24, 2009, 11:19 AM
So are 2 eight footers cheaper than one 16?

Jan. 24, 2009, 12:08 PM
So are 2 eight footers cheaper than one 16?

Two 8' doesn't make much sense to avoid opening one 16', because you have to then fasten two gates back.
Where it is so windy as we are here, that would be a nuisance.

Once you get over 16', you need more than one gate, like two 10' for a 20' opening, because over 16' takes a monster gate post to hold that weight without leaning with the gate.
For larger openings with very heavy gates, then you really need to add an overhead frame and that has to be very high, so trucks can go under.
Where we have two 16' gates, we have added a post in the middle that sits in a pipe in the ground, that we can raise out of there to make the opening larger.
When we normally drive thru there, we only use one of the two 16' gates.
Now, you can do that with any size gates and just use one of them for daily traffic.
For any vehicles, really 12' should be the minimum.

Up to 16', a good gate post can hold them without sagging, or add a wheel, although those have their drawbacks also.

I like the idea of getting some markers, WalMart has highway traffic cones cheap you can later use for horse training and mark the openings and drive thru them and see how they work best.:)

Jan. 25, 2009, 02:23 PM
We've had several horse properties and every time my SO is freaked by the amount of gates I want to put in - until it's all said and done and he can easily get in and out and between paddocks. I even measured the radius I needed to u-turn between paddocks to feed on one farm - 30' for the truck, 19' feet for the golf cart.

IWeve got 14' gates into every paddock and between the adjoining paddocks so when we need big equip. or even just the tractor and harrow, it's easy to get thru. Then I've also got 8' gates where we go in and out regularily and lead horses thru. The small gates are made to match the 3 rail fencing.

I've got a pair of 8' metal gates at each end of the driveway to contain any escapees. We do have one 16' gate that allows access behind the barn for hay deliveries, but it's heavy and the post definitely needed to be cemented, where as the other gate posts didn't.

Jan. 25, 2009, 03:12 PM
The trouble with two gates for one opening is that the middle, where they come together, will need to have some way to fix them, or they will move too much in and out.
You can make a latch that connects them across both, or add a post in the middle you can remove when you need to open that space wider than one gate, or set at least one on a block and hope that is enough when a horse scratches on them.

Two 1/2 sized gates in the place of one, for the same gate space, needs some thought.

Jan. 25, 2009, 03:54 PM
The trouble with two gates for one opening is that the middle, where they come together, will need to have some way to fix them, or they will move too much in and out.
You can make a latch that connects them across both, or add a post in the middle you can remove when you need to open that space wider than one gate, or set at least one on a block and hope that is enough when a horse scratches on them.

Too true. I still haven't solved the swinging problem for myself, and annoyingly, the prevailing wind tends to grab them. Also, two gates is slightly more expensive.

On the other hand, you have the advantage of needing less space to swing the gates, and the option to swing in any of four possible directions if you open just one.

Tom King
Jan. 25, 2009, 08:34 PM
There is nothing about the metal gates typically found on most farms that I like. I built all our gates out of wood with non-climb wire protecting them. Since 16' is the longest standard length of board and I needed them for diagonal braces, our drive through gates-all straight access-are 14'. We also have a number of 4 1/2' gates with a Sure-Latch one way latch mounted up higher than the topline of the fence (post and lockrail of gate are taller than normal) to be easily accessible while on horseback.


All the 14 footers are secured with wrap around chains and stainless carabiners. They are only opened when something needs to drive through.

Some have been here for 28 years and I have never had to replace one.