How To Build A Horse Corral
A proper horse corral must be strong enough to contain the horse. It should also be constructed so it is safe for a horse and protects it against injury while providing the horse with an opportunity to exercise and graze. Most horse owners recommend the horse corral be at least 5-feet high and be large enough to provide the horse an ample amount of mobility. The corral will need a horse-sized gate for easy access. Planning a smaller gate for people is also a handy addition. When considering a horse corral, consider these three functions: utility (keeping the horse inside the corral), safety and aesthetics.
Tips for building a simple horse corral
Where to build?
Horse corrals placed within eye-site of the ranch house or barn will make monitoring and supervision of horses easier. A separation of at least 50-feet between the house and corral is considered ideal.
Horses need a steady supply of water, so it should be easily accessible and within 10 to 30 feet of the corral to minimize carrying buckets of water to and from the corral. A good prospective location should be on level ground and free of tree roots and rocks, which could injure the horse. Hazardous areas such as busy highways, ravines, or cliffs should be avoided when locating a corral.
Various corral materials
The most popular materials for horse corrals are: steel pipe panels, wood posts and rails, and vinyl rails with either wood or metal posts. Wood corrals are the least expensive to build but will deteriorate over time. It’s also worth mentioning that horses frequently bite and even eat wood. So, expect higher maintenance with a wood horse corral. Vinyl is the mid-priced material of choice for corrals. It offers longer life and less weathering than wood. Vinyl corrals are available in both modular corral panels and as fencing rolls. Vinyl panels are usually available in white, brown or black finishes. Combined with wood posts a vinyl corral can be built with simple hand tools. Steel pipe corrals are the most expensive to build, but they will stand up to years of weather and wear. Panels are available in a large assortment of sizes and pipe diameters. Typically, both painted and vinyl clad finishes are available. Continuous fence panels are also available in modular lengths that interlock with a “swaged” end that fits inside the next panel for a solid joint and speedy assembly.
Corral panels are available in many different sizes. Panel lengths can be 8, 10, 12, or 16-feet long. Panel heights range from 48 to 72-inches. Continuous fence lengths range from 10-foot to 20-foot and 48-inch to 62-inch heights. Corner members are available in 90-degree and 45-degree angles too.
How to install the corral
Locate the property lines before installing the corral. Some cities and counties require a setback from the property line for any permanent structure. Once the location is chosen, clear away any brush or trees from the corral area. To establish the corral line, drive temporary stakes to locate the corners of the corral. Next, dig holes for the posts with a posthole digger or powered post driver. Set the posts at least 2-foot deep and firmly tamp down the soil around the post. Space the additional posts 8 to 12-feet apart to support whichever modular sized panels are being used. Always use pressure treated or decay resistant posts for permanent horse corrals. The most common posts are pine pressure treated with CCA (chromated copper arsenate) and are recognizable by their greenish color.
The CCA treated posts are harder and will outlast older treatments such as creosote and penta-chloro-phenol. Position the corral rails or modules 6 to 8-inches off the ground. This is important to prevent horses from pawing at the fence and it makes weed control much easier. Attach the corral modules to the posts and install the livestock gate. Horses tend to congregate around gates. The gate should be strong and level with the top of the corral. Steel tubing is the popular choice for corral gates. The minimum width for a horse gate is 4-feet wide. For corrals where equipment needs to move in and out allow at least 8 feet.
Wood corrals with rails and posts will need to be stained or painted. They will weather during the rain and winter months and they may need to be re-sealed after several years. Always use pressure treated posts to prevent post rot and termites after several years. Vinyl is easy to clean. Just hose it off when it gets dirty. Steel corrals usually need no maintenance unless they rust. Then seal the rust area with a good outdoor primer and paint as needed.