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Help me figure this out.

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  • Help me figure this out.

    Here is a picture of my hitching rail. The building behind it is my "carriage house". I'm thinking of putting up some cross ties and moving my hitching post.

    How are your horse tied when you're hitching up? My wagon, cart and harnesses are inside the building. Should I use cross ties? Continue using the hitching rail? If I put up cross ties how close to the building should I put them? Should I put something in the building itself?


    One of my riding horses has pawed a horrendous ditch there at the hitching post so dh is going to re-do the whole thing. I want to get it right this time.

    Hitching rail

    Here's a better view of the front.

  • #2
    We have a center aisle barn, stalls on both sides, so horse doesn't have a lot of room to move about when cross-tied for being hitched up or unhitching. The difference with this and your carriage barn, is that there is no "steering" needed to exit. Even if horse is being difficult, he will ONLY be able to go straight to get outside. Not the case with your barn and offset doors. Along with that your barn is VERY wide, so crossties inside is not really workable, without messing up the open floor plan to use the building in various ways.

    First point for me, is that your hitching rail, appears to be a gate. Just looking at the photo, with main heavy rail having a LOT of crosspieces under it. To ME, that is objectionable because pawing animal is likely to get a leg thru somehow. With feeders left in place, leg could go in there too. Not a real safe setup, but I am really picky about safety in trying to PREVENT an accident. We have a solid wall that horses get tied to, when they need to learn to tie well, standing tied for long amounts of time. Horse can paw or strike if angry, wall is not going to catch a hoof.

    I know some folks who use tall poles for crossties outside, their main hitching location. Poles are wide enough to drive thru pretty easily, high enough that crossties are UP in the air, not dragging the ground. They have put down firm footing, maybe covered it with a couple stall mats to prevent the holes from pawing horses. Others have made a cement pad, THEN put the mats on top. Solves the moving dirt footing, but protects the hoof or shoe if pawing from wear on the cement. You do need to use stall mats that have a good grip, not slippery when wet from weather.

    Location of poles for crossties needs to be a bit out of the way for getting into the barn, mowing if you need to, having to avoid them when driving trucks and trailers in that area. Still close enough that getting the vehicle to the poles isn't a royal PAIN, making hitching difficult.

    Is the present location of hitch rail a problem? Looks handy to the carriages, harness storage. If the pawing hole is the only BIG issue, would smoothing it out again, putting down some hard footing like limestone or crushed rocks, then covering the area horses stand on with stall mats, is a pretty easy solution. Sometimes you can even find used stall mats for less money. Conveyer belting works too, just can be slippery when wet with smooth surfaces.

    You could also pour cement or get asphault laid, to put a hard surface for standing there. I would look at the rail setup itself, might want to cover or remove the cross rails under your main tying bar, to prevent a problem later. If the hitch rail is part of the pasture fence, covering it is the better idea.

    Is hitch rail also used as a real gate, swung open and shut? Second use as a gate would change my whole thinking. If hitch rail is really a gate, that is dangerous, less solid anchors to hold it if animal acts badly. In that case, I would start from scratch, make a new hitch rail in another place, set the appropriate footing there instead. Perhaps the new hitch rail and footing could be located just past the present hitch rail/gate, outside the fence. You have just a bit further to walk with harness, pulling carriages in or out of the carriage barn.

    You want things as safe and easy to use as possible, so it is fun to work with equines and go driving. So having things handy, is important. Looking at the carriage barn front, using the other side doesn't look good with spigot and downhill over there. I sure don't want to be pulling vehicles any distance, even light ones, for hitching and putting away.


    • Original Poster

      The hitching rail is just a hitching rail, not a gate. Maybe I should make the bottom part solid...

      The rail really is in a handy position. It's what I use now for hitching and saddling. We are thinking about putting something permanent down on the south side, on the north side it might interfere with drainage. Dh has to frequently open it up so it won't puddle. There's a hill just north of the rail and all the water comes down there.

      Rail runs east to west. Every once in a while I wonder about moving it north/south but then in order to be on level ground it would block the building entrance. There's just a little bit of level ground there. Slopes up to the north and down to the south.

      What I like best is that it's right out my back door. Very handy.

      Thanks for the ideas. Perhaps I can just level it, add some limestone or chat (if that's what it's called) and put stall mats over. I need a good place for baths and farrier work besides my patio.


      • #4
        Sounds good, not an expensive fix. If it doesn't work as well as expected, then you can consider other ideas. The rail did look like it was in a real nice location to all the stuff from the barn.

        I would suggest getting some geotextile fabric, laying it down first, then filling with the hard rocks. You might consider doing an "apron area" across the front of the building with the fabric and hard fill. It would drain well, stay leveled even with use of horses and carriage, truck or tractor getting into the building.

        This harder layer of rock or chat (everyone has their own local names), needs to have some depth to it, so as it packs hard, it is less likely to shift under weight. I am saying about 6 inches, which will probably pack hard down to 4 inches. Using a power tamper will compact the rocks evenly, much better than letting them settle with just driving over them. We rent a power tamper for our rock work, does a better job than we can by hand. Size of the rocks used is your choice. The smaller ones do work nice, like 1/2" or less can almost be like pavement. The larger ones over an 1"-2" size also pack nice, but can drain a bit faster if this is a low spot water runs across. The fabric is to prevent rock layer from mixing with sandy soil or what dirt you have, keeps the rocks were you want them. Our local soil just absorbs the rocks if fabric isn't used.

        Geotextile fabric is usually available from Landscape services, is REALLY handy stuff on the farm/ranch. Easy to handle, though you want good overlap of edges if you have to use pieces to cover the area. Overlap is so they don't pull apart under weight of the rocks. We did two long pieces to make a parking area for the semi truck and trailer, horse trailer beside it. They got overlapped where edges met for the lengths. At least a foot overlap, before piling on the stones.


        • #5
          Second the suggestion for concrete/asphalt &/ stall mat. Many barns I've been too have mats over concrete.

          It sounds like what you have works for you. Since I usually am around less broke horses, the hitching post is in front of the barn. The solid wall is a gentle reminder to Mr. Ed that he needs to stand and not go anywhere.
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