From Here to There:  Stiles & Gaps


By Barbara Newtown.

Farmers and ranchers have been building stiles and squeezing through gaps for as long as they’ve been putting up fences.  Gates – especially gates that are big enough to let equipment through – sag and drag.  And, if a gate gets used often enough, someday someone will forget to fasten the latch or chain.  The stile is an attractive solution.

A stile:


Stiles can be works of art:

Or rustic:

If you can weld, try making this stile:

Stiles are fine – but what if you’re carrying buckets or a saddle or an expensive camera?  A clever gap is the answer.  Here is a rotary gate, also known as a turnstile:

A more modern turnstile, invented by Cloyce Hendersen:

A “squeeze” pass through:

A squeeze and stile combo:

A classic fence line gap that confuses horses and cows:

The previous design is effective with large animals.  To control sheep, try this “kissing gate.”  It swings on hinges and can fasten to either side:

Here’s another “kissing gate” that has more room for maneuvering a bike or cart and still prevents sheep from sneaking through:

Here is the “C Gate,” invented by Marlin Haberstroh.  He sells the curved bars with attached metal brackets at fairs and at his business in Aurora, Colorado.  “It’s a great way to enter or exit pens,” he says.


You don’t have to be an inventor, a master carpenter, or a welder to create a stile.  Primitive solutions work well, too:


Even easier:

And, if you are a horse and your person insists that you must cross from one field to another and there’s no regular gate in sight, the best way is over a coop, which is safe and solid.  The slanted shape is much easier to jump than a vertical fence.  (Be careful:  when horses are first learning to jump, they may convince themselves that it is wrong to cross a fence line.  They may do a “dirty quit” or a gigantic leap.)

Finally, a bit of high culture.  Here is “On the Stile,” by Winslow Homer.