There are almost as many kinds of horse fence as there are horse breeds it seems! Traditional wooden board fence, new vinyl covered fence, electric vinyl fence, field wire fence, non-climbable wire fence, hog wire, chicken wire, plastic mesh, electric wire, electric tape, high tensile wire, high tensile electric, stone walls, wire / hedge fence, rubber fence.
So what do you choose? There are several factors involved in your choice, money availability being only one of them. You have to take into account things like what is your farm's main usage. If you breed you need different fencing than you do simply for pleasure horses. Stallions require special fencing usually, and some states require by law that stallion areas have six foot high fence!
If you don't breed it is easier indeed. But other factors come into play. The type of land you are going to fence, the overall safety concerns of the sort of fence you choose. The appearance of the fence, the sheer amount of land you must fence. The time you have available to get that fencing up and functional! The actual installation of the fence. All that must be checked out and decided upon.
Professional fence installation is primo, no question and fast, also most expensive. But in the long run it may well be worth it. Cause no matter the kind of fence you use, there will always be fence to maintain! Fence to mend, posts to replace, gates to be re-hung- it is a never-ending constant when you have horses.
I was introduced to rubber fence 20 years ago. Rubber fence is a bit tricky to install so it not only looks decent but does not sag and permit horse escapes. Three strands of rubber with electric at the top, cap rails at the corners, corner braces- make a fine usually safe fence. But not a fence everyone wants to deal with, and if horses tend to munch on it, it can be deadly if they eat the peelings of the rubber. It is made from tire wall trimmings, you know when they pour the rubber/fabric into the mold to make tires there is about 3 inches of excess that must be trimmed- that in turn or conveyor belt trimmings. That becomes rubber fence. Tension at installation is critical!
The vinyl fence family I have never used, and suspect it is a pro installation. When choosing this fence, things like UV tolerance must be considered. And is it hollow core or solid core? It sure is about the most pretty of the fences and with enough rails/boards should be a very safe fence. It is also a very expensive fence!
The wire family of fences tend to be easy to install, relatively maintenance free if properly installed, not as expensive as some kinds unless you have chosen Diamond Mesh fence! That stuff is great and what is commonly used in KY on the big breeding farms. Figure costs accordingly. It does need a cap rail, but is non-climb in nature. Corner bracing is usual, but then again it is usual with all fence types.
Field fence is a quick fence to put up, but does need a fence stretcher to be taut- it doesn't last as long as some kinds of wire, and can be climbed by ambitious horses. Also needs cap rail and or electric at the top.
Chicken wire, and plastic mesh are useful for an inner liner to another fence, the plastic mesh is safe and will keep babies from rolling under the fence and out of the pasture/paddock. Plastic mesh is a great emergency fix should you need one and works well for creating chutes and lanes should you need one where you will have to move part of it daily- in other words it makes a good portable fence especially if you use the plastic T posts with it! It is also very useful for keeping horses OUT of an area!
Electric wire is passe` these days it seems. Had the nasty habit of if a horse went through it, the wire would or could wrap around a leg cutting off circulation and creating deep wire cuts.. Not a good thing. The newer electric mesh does not do that it seems so of the two I would choose the mesh, is much more visible as well. If you must use the electric wire, I suggest getting Aluminum wire- it doesn't rust, is a better conductor of electricity and is a bit easier for horses to see. Surveyor's tape should be hung from electric fence so the horses can see it.
Traditional board fence is high maintenance indeed. Need paint and is very attractive to fence chewers. Not only that but if a horse breaks it serious horse damage may occur.
Horse damage is also a factor with any of the high tensile fence- not so much adult horse but foals and youngsters can get very badly injured on it- even if it is electric. Granted it is very, very strong and low maintenance. Foals have this nasty habit of rolling under, going through fencing that is not solid! Electric wire between boards and under the board is a good idea if you have foals on the ground.
No matter what fence type you choose, chances are a horse will and can find a way to either get messed up on it, or go through it or over it or under it! Fencing is about 90% psychological at best, but the remaining percentage had best be strong enough to withstand horse antics or intimidating enough to completely discourage them! AND visible enough to prevent a horse from running right into it!!
Ina M Ish