Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: East Central Illinois
Your problem is a leading problem, not a gate problem.
If you have a friend's horse that is calm around fences you will need this horse to help you. Your friend walks her horse around the gate, you follow with yours, your friend walks her horse back out again, you two follow. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat, ad nauseum.
When I first bought my horses (1985), I remembered the good advice that you always turned your horse's head towards you before you released for turnout. When I got my first herd of 6 I couldn't easily catch them. It was a comedy watching me with a halter and lead, although they were ALL broken to ride. I started training with grain. I poured it into a bowl outside of their turnout and I took the first horse that I could halter outside to eat it. The others ALL watched him. The next day my herd leader was first to the gate to be haltered and tied and grained. After that, they all learned to put their heads over the gate, wait calmly to be haltered, calmly led outside of the gate while I shut it, calmly to be tied, then calmly to be grained. They came out and were turned out again in their pecking order, and had to turn, put the head over the gate after I shut it, and Wait to be released. After that I NEVER had trouble catching these horses, and their manners greatly improved. I also groomed them while they are eating, a practice I continue to this day. Dismiss the notion that a horse should be left to eat in peace. I expect my horses and my dogs to let me handle them while tied and eating. If one of my dogs growls while petted while eating she is punished, and I take the bowl away. Same with the horse--the food is removed, but the grooming isn't.
This is basic training. Once you fix the bad manners, you can move on to good foot manners (for cleaning and trimming/shoeing), and good tacking up manners.
Training is ALWAYS difficult in the winter. I've found that it has become my best time of year to pinpoint and correct the little problems that plague me throughout the warm riding season. So...be positive, make a workable plan and don't consider the retraining finished until it's...finished.