I am going about this a little backward. But I am doing what I can for social distancing, and not going out to the Depot. (Home Depot). I am building jumps with what I have in my garage. And thankfully, I have a LOT of wood lying around that can be turned into horse jumps. So for my building a set of horse jumps series, I am starting with building the gates first.
And although I had my regular chores to do this past weekend, I decided to spend some time in the garage and build some gates. In my two day weekend I was able to build 3 different gates. And I made myself work with what I have. No going to the store to buy screws, or a new paint color. Nope. I had to make due with what I had at home. And I think things turned out pretty good.
I have built well over 200 gates for horse jumps. So I don’t really follow a pattern anymore. I just build it. I allow my creativity to flow. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. And when it works out, I get really excited. So how about we build some gates for our jumps?
Why Build Gates?
Having gates for your jumps not only offers some nice fill, but it also helps your horse get accustom to different styles of jumps he may be encountering in the show arena.
You can build a gate for a horse jump for as little as $10.00 and add so much in the process.
Building gates for horse jumps is not difficult at all, and it really adds a lot to a jump. You are able to fill a blank space with a gate. You can make something plain look impressive by adding a gate. And you make the jump more inviting for the horse, because the jump looks more substantial, and more inviting for the horse.
With this basic design you can make many different styles of gates. But to keep things simple, lets do an easy picket style gate. It looks great, and is very, very easy to build.
- 2 2″ x 4″ x 8′
- 3 1″ x 4″ x 8′ (or you can buy cedar fence pickets as well)
- 1 1/2″ decking screws
- Kilz2 primer paint
- Finish paint
And that’s it! Not too much right?
Like I said in the beginning, I built 3 gates over the weekend. I will be using these gates for the set of horse jumps I am building to make a complete set of jumps. So if you want to do the same thing, you will need to triple the materials from the above list. Or you can do what I did, and use remnant wood.
And of course, you will need a few tools to build a gate. Here are the tools you will need:
- Measuring tape
- Tiny drill bit (for starting holes)
- 18 volt drill
- Circular saw
- Orbital sander
- Jig saw (for cutting out small pieces)
How to Build a Horse Jump Gate
Safety disclaimer….when you are working with power tools, please make sure to be safe! Make sure you have good lighting, and always keep yourself safe. If you have any doubts about your ability, be sure to have some extra help. And always wear eye protection, gloves, and ear protection. OK, safety talk over, lets build a gate!
I like to start with cutting my 1 x 4’s to the length I want them to be. For this gate, I measure off 12″ increments on my boards. And then cut them out. Then, take 1 of the 2 x 4’s, and measure off 8 inches, and mark it. Then, cut the 8″ off your 2 x 4.
These slats are the interior section of my gate. And because I’m not build 1.5 meter tall jumps, my gates don’t need to be 3 feet tall. And by keeping the interior slats at 12″, and then subtracting about 4″ for where the slats connect to the top and bottom rail of the gate, my gate will be approximately 16″ to 18″ tall. Which is plenty tall for a small jump.
Sanding The Wood
Once you have your wood cut out, I highly recommend sanding everything. It is a lot easier to sand the wood when it is in the little pieces rather than waiting until you get it assembled.
Building the Frame of the Gate
After everything is sanded, now you will be assembling your gate. Lay both the full 2 x 4 x 8, and the slightly shorter one next to each other. Now take your 1″ x 4″ pieces, and line them up, on the ends of the 2 x 4’s. I start with 2 1 x 4 pieces, at either end of the 2 x 4’s. The slightly shorter 2 x 4 will be the bottom portion of your gate. And you want the 1 x 4 sections to meet up at the edge of the shorter 2 x 4.
The top 2 x 4 should extend about 4″ longer on either side. You want the top to be longer, because this is the part of your gate that will rest in the jump cup. I recommend using your measuring tape to make sure you have about the same distance on either side of the top 2 x 4. Also set the 2 x 4’s how far apart you want them to be. For me, I like the bottom to be flush with the 1 x 4 pieces. I leave a little bit of distance from the top, about 1″ or so.
Admire Your Work
Then, take a step back, and look at how this looks. You will be looking at the gate from the back. If you are happy with the appearance, next you will attach the 1 x 4’s to the 2 x 4’s.
Without removing the 1 x 4’s take your drill and tiny drill bit, and drill one starter hole on the top and bottom of each of your 1 x 4’s. Then, using 2″ decking screws, attach the 1 x 4’s to the 2 x 4’s. I usually do one, and then check the other one, to make sure nothing has moved, or if it has adjusting it before I attach it. It is sufficient to attach the 1 x 4’s with just one screw on the top and bottom.
You can do 2 screws each top and bottom, but you run the risk of splitting the wood.
Adding Your Pickets
*Disclaimer* If you are painting your gate 2 different colors, for example a colored frame with white pickets, DO NOT ASSEMBLE THE GATE YET! Paint each piece of wood BEFORE assembling the gate!!!!
Now that the frame is complete, we need to add in the pickets. There is no right or wrong way to add the pickets. Typically I will add a bunch, and see what it looks like. You can make the spacing between wide or narrow, or somewhere in between. It’s up to you, this is your gate, make it the way you want to make it.
Once you are pretty happy with where your pickets are, go ahead and predrill some holes on the tops and bottom, just like we did with the first 2 1 x 4 ‘s. Then using your 2″ screws, attach all of the pieces to the 2 x 4’s, top and bottom.
When you are done, your gate should look something like this…
And if you want to get fancy, you could do some little cutouts on the pickets to have a gate that looks like this:
And you aren’t limited by always having the pickets the same size.
If you have scrap wood (like I do) you could have thicker pickets:
Or you could have a bunch of different size pickets:
Once you have done this a few times, you will begin to play around and come up with all kinds of different gate patterns. It’s really fun, trust me!
Painting Your Gate
When I get super excited, I assemble the gate, and then paint everything all at once. HOWEVER- if you are doing a different colored frame than the pickets, I would recommend to paint the pieces separately before assembling your gate. It is a little time consuming to paint all of the pieces separately, but if you are doing 2 or more different colors, it will be easier and you will thank me for this in the end, I promise!
But if you are painting everything the same color, like white, you can go ahead and assemble the gate and then paint everything.
If you are painting, I would encourage you to primer paint it first. It will give the overall finished product a better appearance, and your paint job will last longer too. I always do a primer coat of paint before the finish coat of paint.
For painting, it is really helpful if you place the gate up on saw horses, or something elevated. This way you can get into the little nooks and crannies of the gate. I like to start with painting the front first, so I can see the end result first. I am really impatient, and this gives me a small preview of what my end result will be.
Then once you have given the front time to dry, you can flip it over and paint the back of the gate.
Once it has dried, your gate is ready for use!
Building A Set of Horse Jumps – The Gates
To make 3 gates, I didn’t spend any money. I made them using stuff I already had. But if you were going to buy the materials, you can build a fancy gate like these for less than $15.00. I was able to make a very useful piece of jumping equipment for my jumps for less than $20.00. If I were to buy these gates ready made, it would have cost me at least $150.00 PER gate. And that doesn’t even include the shipping! So by building the gates myself, I just saved $450.00. I call that a good deal. And I was able to get rid of some of the clutter in my garage too!
And you can build gates fast. It took me about 45 minutes to build the gate, and then about 20 minutes each side to paint. Factoring in drying time for the paint has to be considered though too. And typically it’s a good idea to allow for about 8 hours for every coat of paint, if you are using oil based enamel like I prefer to use.
All right, that is it for today. The harder components needed to make a set of horse jump are just about complete. In my next post we will tackle building some walls, or what I like to call tall boxes. These are fun too, because you can get pretty creative with walls! And I will show you how creative in my next post.
Do Something FUN
If you aren’t able to get to your barn right now because you are told to stay home, this gives you a really good excuse to build some jumps at home. Then, when all of this shelter in place is behind us, you will have some fun new jumping equipment to take to your barn! Or, if you are like me, and have your horses at home, building some jumps can give you a fun project to work on while you are at home. For myself personally, I have a lot of other chores I could be doing. But I find that by having something creative to work on it helps me to stay positive, and have fun. Even if there is a scary virus keeping me at home.