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Greater Gates

by Rebecca Colnar, Article donated by the mane points horse resource center.

I hate gates. While they are inevitable, I nevertheless grumble when I have to manhandle a gate when leading my horse into or out of a pasture or when riding out to an arena. I've even gone so far as to suggest that folks build coop jumps everywhere there's a gate, thus eliminating ever opening them again. But I guess that's not practical.

The way the gate is hung is often the problem. If it doesn't clear the ground, I may even have to tie up the horse and shove it this way or that. But then, even with my own gates, I griped but didn't do any thing because it called for some drilling and possibly some new post pounding.

Difficulties often lie in the latch.

Many folks use the simple chain and snap clip method. This works, but has several drawbacks. You cannot easily open it from horseback, and when it rains and freezes, the snap clip can freeze shut and often won't budge.
Someone, thankfully, has made a horseman-friendly latch. It's called the Sure-Latch (100-08000). Opening it either from the ground or from horseback is a breeze. You simply pull one side of the latch up-and this can be done with the thumb and forefinger-and the gate can swing open in whichever direction you wish it to go.

gate latch

Sure-Latch has several requirements for installation. First, your gates must be made of tubing-158-inch to two-inch-O.D. round tubing. I don't believe it would work on a wooden gate. Part of the latch attaches to the wooden fence post, with the second part of the latch attaching to the tubing gate. (There is even a Sure-Latch that can be locked. It has an extra bit of metal at the bottom where a lock can be applied.)

Another plus is in its construction-it keeps the gate from sagging. It also was designed with safety in mind. The "pin," or what slips into the center of the arms, is about a half inch long, but is rounded on the ends and will not scrape a horse if the animal brushes against it.

For those who really hate opening gates (and have some extra dollars), there are the electronic automatic gate openers, like GTO's Mighty Mule (066-80530). This high-tech contraption can be outfitted with an electronic lock, GTO wireless keypad entry, solar charger and GTO entry transmitter.

The Mighty Mule gate opener boasts safe and easy installation, because electric wiring isn't involved-only a battery with a solar charger. According to the literature, it can be installed in two to three hours. It does not say, however, whether it works from horseback. Perhaps having the entry transmitter tucked in your saddle bags would do the trick.

Whether opening gates manually or automatically is your pleasure, I'll add one other easy gate-opener to the list of possible latches and devices, but you can't buy it in a store. It's called a riding companion.

Read the next horse barns article on Barn Ventilation.
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