Ina’s Helpful Hints on Horsekeeping 9 – Fences!, by Ina M. Ish

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
iish@earthlink.net