Horse Fencing Part 1

There are few horse people who find anything more beautiful than long stretches of well maintained board fence enclosing lush green pasture.  But as those who have built those long stretches of fence know only too well that beauty comes at a price.

Three or four board fence can cost between $8-$15 a linear foot depending on the type of wood used and whether or not you have it professionally installed.  Some of the modern alternatives such as flexible or rigid vinyl  can also be costly.  Electric wire, cord or tape can be much more reasonably priced but can still cost nearly $2 per linear foot when all the components are costed out.

So what is the “best” fence? Several factors need to be considered when you are making this decision:

  • The true test of a fence is not when horses are peacefully grazing but how well it will contain them when they decide to leave the premises or just start to play and don’t see the fence until it is too late.
    • Horse fence needs to be highly visible, solid enough to contain a horse but with some give to minimize injury on impact
    • It should be high enough to discourage jumping
    • It should have no sharp edges

When you find this fence let me know!

There is no PERFECT fence because each situation may require a stress to be placed on each of the requirements.  I have known barn managers who swear by electric tape and those who will not use it because they have seen horse cut by the wire contained in each strand of tape. I have seen horses break boards and impale themselves and also seen them rear up and come down on a T post – not something anyone wants to see.

Generally there are some criteria that are applicable to most horses fences.

  • Should be 54-60 inches in height or at wither height
  • Bottom rails should be set no higher than 12 inches but no lower than 8 inches to prevent foals and smaller ponies from escaping underneath the rail but not tight enough to catch a hoof.
  • Set posts securely – you may need to set them in cement if your soil is sandy and you may want to set every other post in cement regardless of soil type.
  • Keep the space between rails between 12-18 inches ( electric tape allows for a larger opening)
  • When using a woven wire “field” type fence make sure the small wire spaces are at the bottom of the fence to discourage catching a hoof
  • Construct gates without diagonal braces – again to prevent catching a leg or hoof. Also make sure you size your gate to fit your tractor and any implements that you’ll need to get into the field. This means a 16’ gate for most contract farm services… something you’ll need to keep in mind if you don’t have your own tractor.

More about fence next week! Meanwhile here is a great link for those planning to install some fence.

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Shelly Ingram

I am a third generation horsewoman; My father operated a 50 horse boarding and training facility in northern California, where he specialized in re-training spoiled horses. I was his demonstration rider and general assistant in all aspects of running the ranch. I went on to work for several major show and race horse trainers, eventually opening my own barn where I focused on Junior and Amateur riders. I have trained numerous champion horses and riders on all levels and in variety of disciplines. I have also worked as a journalist and have more than a decade of experience in land use planning.

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