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Central Carolina's

Equestrian Quarterly

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The Hard Ground Hitching Rail:

    One of the blessings/curses of the land where we’re building Prophet’s Thumb is the very hard ground... Bull tallow and/or outright granite lie just below the surface most places.
    The hard earth is a blessing because even with horses and trucks running around on it, it never turns into a deep bog. This time of year we do get a slippery mess in places, but never the kind of bog-to-the-axle, pull-your-boots-right-off-your-feet quagmire I used to live with down in Charleston.
    The curse is that it’s darn hard to put a post into the ground very deep. We used steel drive-in posts for the fences (see the Autumn 1999 edition), but wooden posts for the barn pretty nearly made the tractor auger cry uncle. Union Electric resorted to large amounts of dynamite to put in our power poles.

    Since I wanted to put a tie-rack near the back door of the house, dynamite wasn’t a good way for me to go... But a hitching rail needs to be sturdy. It doesn’t do a lot of good to build one that the stronger horses can simply pull up out of the ground and wander away with. So I had to figure out a way to build a solid structure without sinking poles halfway to China.
    For starters, I decided to go with the rugged five-pole design... Four 6" diameter poles in the ground to support one cross-rail.

top view
Top view of Hitching Rail

    With a great deal of pick-axe work I was able to make a couple of 10" x 24" holes, but only around two feet deep. From there on down it was solid rock. So I got some pieces of steel rod and drove them down another couple of feet into the rock at the bottoms of the holes. I cut the rods off at ground level so that they did not protrude up out of the holes. I then put two posts into each hole and propped them into place while I filled the holes with concrete, engulfing the bottoms of the posts, and the rebar as well.

cross section
How the posts go into the ground.

    The concrete attaches the posts to the steel rods which attach the whole deal to the granite bedrock. Seems pretty sturdy so-far.

finished rack

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