Make a Horse Corral With This Simple Fence Design

Build this easy-to-construct, inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing horse corral following a zigzag pattern.

| March/April 1978

Until you've been foiled by a footloose and fetter-free animal who manages — time and again — to work his way through all your fancy fences to go feed his face in greener pastures, you can't appreciate the frustration our wandering gelding used to cause us. We tried using an electric fence, and it worked well during the summer. But winter's white blanket insulated the ground so well in the cold months that our usually equable equine quickly forgot the shocks of summer and made a shambles of our setup. Trailing strands of broken wire, he'd casually slog from his private shed to the hay barn where he'd then spend the night munching and befouling.

I tried various schemes to make the electric fence effective in snow ... but to no avail. Finally — with the score at something like "Horse, 30 . . . Man, 0" — apoplexy became the mother of invention. "There's got to be a better way," I told myself. "I'm going to corral that horse if it's the last thing I do!"

A Horse Corral for All Seasons

In my search for an answer to our "animal containment" problem, I read George A. Martin's classic Fences, Gates, and Bridges. After borrowing a few ideas here and there from Martin's book and adding a few twists of my own, I eventually came up with a horse holding design that I felt I and my gelding could both live with: the "zig" horse corral.

And what's a "zig" horse corral? Nothing but a zigzag fence minus the "zag." (Note: Click on the Image Gallery link above for more details, photographs and diagrams about the horse corral.) One advantage to this design is that the use of upright posts set into the ground is kept to a minimum: Our whole corral needed only eight of them. This — of course — all but eliminates any worry of rotting wood and/or frost heave and cut down on the amount of time we had to spend digging post holes.

Another reason we chose the "zig" design is that it allowed us to capitalize on the readily available aspen logs we'd already felled in the course of our recent pasture-clearing operation. Thus, our total out-of-pocket costs for the project were essentially nil.

What we like most about our horse corral, however, is its inherent sturdiness. The enclosure's sides are interlocked in such a way that they could probably safely hold a charging bull ... although, so far, the best we've been able to come up with is one ornery horse.

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