Rev. 03-27-13

KBR Horse Training Information

Exercising Body AND Mind

Building Yourself a
Practical and Inexpensive
Wild Horse Pen

Part Two


Gates can be the weak link in any wild horse pen. They need to be built to withstand a horse rearing and coming down with his legs on or against the gate. They must also be firmly secured at all four corners or pressure applied by a horse to the top or from the inside will cause the gate to distort and possibly fail.

Strap type hinges are the weakest part of the gate as they can distort under pressure. They should be installed on the inside of the gate (hung so it swings inward) and a vertical 2x4 attached outside the gate frame so that pressure applied by the horse will be absorbed by the 2x4 instead of by the hinges. (Note the 2x4 on the left side of the view of the gate.)

Gates should be latched top and bottom. For latches we used cane bolts which we ran through some sections of old 1/2" water pipe which we cut to length. The cane bolts slide into deep holes drilled into the pole. The pole also has stops for the gate on the outside to help keep the latching hardware from absorbing all of the shock when the horse hits it. All latch hardware is mounted outside, out of reach of halters, but can be actuated from inside the pen by handlers.

The 2x6 rails were installed on the inside of these gates with woven wire behind them to prevent the horse from getting a foot caught in the gate's angle brace.

Gates not normally used, such as this service gate, are double secured by lag bolted 2x6s or by sliding pipe bars.


From a design standpoint, the gentling chute is one of the most critical elements of our wild horse pen. It has to be properly constructed to ensure the safety of both horse and handler in a closely confined situation.

The chute should be approximately 7 feet long and about 28 inches wide (inside dimension to the rails.) A horse will go into a chute this size but won't have so much room that he would likely attempt to turn around inside the chute or charge the end when approached or touched. Our chute is 86" long measured to the insides of the gates and the 2x6 rails are on one foot centers.

All chute lumber must be securely attached, preferably with lag bolts. The chute posts must be properly braced so that they will not drift outward in any way when the horse tries to muscle around inside the chute. There can be no protruding hardware upon which the horse can get hung up.

We installed an escape door at the far end of our chute. The sole purpose of this door is to allow the horse to exit if something goes wrong, the horse somehow gets hung up and we have to let him move forward to free himself. The escape door is typically kept sealed closed with pipe bars which can be easily slid out of the way if the door needs to be opened.

The main chute door has heavy hinge hardware, a lighter weight latch at the top and heavy cane bolt latches which can be inserted from the outside to secure it. (We drilled holes clear through the post and the 4x4 door frame. The cane bolts can quickly be inserted through the post and into the door, providing a secure and durable closure.)

Both chute doors are covered by adequate lumber (we used 2x12s on the "hind end" door) and covered them with padding made from junked quarry belting.

To keep feet from getting caught between the chute rails, we securely fastened quarry belting lengthwise on the bottom two rails.

We used 1" galvanized pipe for our overhead bracing which passes over the chute gates at a height of 7 ft. It is padded with standard pipe insulation which is tightly wrapped with duct tape.

Once the horse is in the chute, we can close the gate two ways. Someone can push the gate closed with a stick from the outside of the pen where the latch person grabs it and inserts the cane bolts from the near side, or a rope can be rigged to close the gate.

To close the gate with the rope, we pass it under the light weight latch at the top so the rope could slip and pull free if the horse charges out, then we affix it to the overhead brace bar with small pieces of tape which will easily release when the rope is pulled. The rope is taped up in such a way that the horse won't notice it when being run into the chute. You should be able to gently pull the rope, have it come free from the bar and close the gate without it whipping around and scaring the horse. The cane bolts should be inserted the instant the gate closes so that the horse can't go into reverse and shove it open.

View of the Chute
Close-up of Escape Door
(Note the pipe bars can be used as
carrot holders.)
Close-up of Chute Gate
Cane "Through Bolts"
Gate Rope

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