Duct Tape Rails

Way back in 2014, I moved to a very dressage focused barn. And they had zero jumps on the property. Zero, zip, nada. But I loved the trainer there, the barn was absolutely gorgeous, and the arena was great. So I began the quest to make my own jumps!

I had previously made some funky planks, but the thought of making enough rails and planks for a 10 jump course had me shaking in my boots. Plus, paint is expensive and doesn’t stay clean, shiny and nice for very long. So I got the bright idea to try and use duct tape to make the striping on my rails. You heard that right, duct tape!

I started by painting all of the rails white, to make a nice base for my future striping attempts. Then, I laid out what I wanted my “pattern” for each rail to be. I had bought 8 colours of duct tape: 2 shades of green, 2 shades of blue, yellow, orange, black and red. After laying out the pattern, I made a circle of duct tape around the rail, keeping tension on it to ensure there wouldn’t be any wrinkles or bubbles. Rinse and repeat to fill the entire section I had laid out for my stripe! Here’s the results.

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I made 3 rails of red, “Brazil” (greens and yellow), 6 blue and 2 orange and black. Enough to set up a decent 10 jump course, with some extra white or coloured fill rails in between!

Here’s what they look like when in use:

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Progress report: they’ve held up extremely well. Here’s some close-ups after 5 months of full time use:

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And here was the worst amount of damage incurred after that 5 month period:

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So basically, not much! Enough to be easily taped over.

It’s now been 2.5 years I’ve been using these rails, and up close the tape is looking pretty rough and peeling now. The white paint has definitely gotten gross and dirt-stained and could probably use a touch up. But they still look good from far away! Not like the horses will be analyzing the jump’s aesthetic quality as they’re cantering up to it 😉

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Pros: I love my rails. There are lots of pros to duct tape rails!

  1. They stay shiny and new-looking from a distance for like, ever. I mean, just look at them in the photo above. Still fresh and shiny! After almost three years!
  2. They’re easy to make, and don’t need time to dry.
  3. They’re easy to refresh! I’m planning on doing this sometime soon, and all you’ll need to do is get some of the same coloured tape and rewrap the worst areas. Super quick and easy. Not like having to repaint rails!

Downsides: There are a couple of downsides to duct tape jumps. I’ve outlined them below.

  1. Probably shouldn’t be kept outside. However, that being said, I do have one orange/black rail that is half completed (I ran out of tape) that has been sitting outside at my house since 2014. It’s been rained on, snowed on, had sun shining on it, you name it. And the only thing that’s happened is the orange tape has faded to a weird light orangey colour. The tape is still stuck on like glue, and still perfectly usable. This hasn’t been a problem for me since we only have an indoor arena, so the poles have been living a cushy life indoors since their creation.
  2. Don’t slide them lengthwise past each other. Just to help preserve the tape. If you drag the poles past one another lengthwise, it can snag the corners of the tape circles you’ve made and pull up the edges. Not a huge deal, but it will help improve the longevity of your poles!

Overall, they’ve been awesome. And continue to be awesome. I would highly, highly recommend them to anybody looking to make show-quality looking jumps with a minimal time investment!

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