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How to calculate the gradient of a slope while installing a fence on your horse property? 

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If you own a horse property, you know that installing fencing is an essential aspect of equine care. Fencing not only helps to define the boundaries of your property, but it also provides a safe and secure environment for your horses.


However, dealing with slopes is one of the biggest challenges when building a fence. Rarely will you find a property that is perfectly level, and in some instances, steep sloping ground calls for various considerations in the planning stages of building your fence. 


A slope is essentially the steepness of a surface, and it can impact the stability and safety of your horse fencing. Knowing the slope of your property is critical when you want to install a fence. Before you purchase or gather materials to build a fence, take the time to determine the slope of your yard.

In some cases, the slope may be too steep for certain fencing products to be used. Learning the gradient of slope on your property can help you eliminate wasted time and effort put into getting quotes for products that may not work on your terrain. 


At Stock & Noble, we provide the finest fencing solutions to high-end equine properties across Australia and New Zealand. Based on years of fencing experience, learnings of numerous live projects and in-depth discussions with fencing installers and experts, we know specific issues that can arise when mapping your fence line and installation. 


In this blog, we’ll discuss how to calculate the gradient or degree of slope for installing the fence on your horse property.


We’ll cover the tools and techniques you need to accurately measure the slope of your property and provide advice on how to choose the right fencing solutions for your specific terrain. With this information, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about your fencing installation and ensure the safety and security of your horses. 


Approaches for Building a Fence on Sloped Ground 

Constructing a fence on sloped terrain requires careful consideration and planning to ensure a successful outcome. Two main approaches can be taken to address the challenges posed by sloped properties: 


First Method: Grading the Slope 

The first method involves reshaping the land by cutting, digging, and redirecting the soil to create a level surface for fence installation. However, this option can be time-consuming and expensive, making it less practical for some property owners. 


Second Method: Building to Conform to the Slope 

The second approach involves constructing the fence so that it follows the slope of the property. This option can be more cost-effective and less time-consuming than grading the slope. Specialised techniques and materials, such as stepping or adjustable rails, may be used to ensure the fence is level and secure. 


Understanding the Basic Formula for Calculating Slope 

  1.  The formula for calculating slope is rise over run, according to Auburn University. 

  2. Rise refers to the vertical leg that extends upward from the 90-degree angle of a right triangle. A run is a horizontal leg extending along the bottom of the triangle. The slope is the third leg of the triangle, stretching between the other two legs. 

  3. To calculate the slope, divide rise by run (length by height). This gives you a basic equation for slope. 

  4.  To convert the slope to a percentage, multiply the resulting number by 100.

  5. To convert the slope from percentage to degrees, multiply the percentage by 0.57. 

Determining the Slope for Your Horse Fence: Steps and Instructions 

Calculate gradient of slope for fencing on a horse property


Determining the slope of your property is an essential first step in building on sloped ground. Here’s how you can do it: 


Things You’ll Need: 

  • 2 wooden stakes
  • Hammer
  • String
  • String level
  • Tape measure
  • Calculator


Step 1: Hammer a Stake 

Hammer a stake into the highest point of your property. 


Step 2: Drive a Second Stake 

Move to a spot 15 to 20 meters downhill, avoiding any hills or valleys along the way. Drive a second stake into the lower ground.  


Step 3: Tie the String 

Walk back uphill and tie one end of the string to the stake on the higher ground. Place the string level in the middle of the string. 


Step 4: Adjust the String 

Lift the end of the string at the lower stake and hold it to your torso as the assistant reads the string level. Continue adjusting the string up or down until the assistant tells you the string is level, which means that it’s creating a perfect, 90-degree angle with your torso. The result will be a right-angle triangle, which allows you to easily calculate the slope of the hypotenuse (in this case, the ground). 


Step 5: Measure the Length of the String 

Measure the length of the string from the stake on the higher ground to your torso. This is the x-axis number. 


Step 6: Measure the Height 

Measure the distance from the ground to the point where the string meets your torso. This is the y-axis number. 


Step 7: Calculate the Slope in Percentage Terms 

Calculate the slope in percentage terms by plugging the recorded measurements into the equation y axis / x axis = slope (x 100 for percentage). For example, if the length of the string is 2 meters and the height from the ground to the point where the string meets your torso is 70cm, the slope expressed as rise over run would be 70 (height) / 200 (length), which can be reduced to 35/100. The equation would be 70/200 = slope = 0.35 (x 100 for percentage). This means the slope = 35 per cent. 


Step 8: Calculate the Slope in Degrees 

Calculate the slope in degrees by using the following equation: [slope percentage] x 0.57 = [slope in degrees]. In the above example, we would find that 35 x 0.57 = 19.95, meaning the slope is about 19.9 degrees. 



Can you calculate the gradient of a slope on your horse property? 

You plan to install a horse fence on your property, but the slope makes you worried. 

Installing fencing on the sloped ground can be challenging, but it is essential for the safety and security of horses. 


Now you know there are two main approaches to building a fence on sloped terrain: grading the slope or building to conform to the slope. To determine the gradient or degree of slope of your property, you need to measure the rise and run using a string, stake, and string level, and then divide rise by run to get the slope. The resulting slope can be expressed as a percentage or degrees. 


By following the steps and instructions provided in this blog, you can accurately calculate the gradient of slope for installing the fence on your horse. 


Once you know the degree, we recommend checking with your fencing supplier which solution would be best suited for your property and can be installed safely and accurately. Before you make a decision, there are other important things that you must consider while planning and designing your horse property. 


If you have more questions on determining the slope, measuring the fence line or want to have a detailed discussion on your property’s unique requirements, please book a personalised consultation. One of our fencing experts will connect with you to answer all your queries and help you create a safe and beautiful equine property.   


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