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Fencing for Your Horse: How to choose the right horse fence

Vinyl, Electric, Barbed Wire & More | Fencing for Your Horse

MyHorse Daily Fencing for Your HorseWhat kind of fencing should you have around your pasture? Do you know what questions to ask your fencing expert? Download our free guide that breaks down all of your fencing options.

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Download your FREE fencing guide from MyHorse Daily and learn how to navigate the complicated horse fencing process.

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor Amy Herdy

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor Amy Herdy

Dear Fellow Horse Fan,

Have you ever watched a horse do their version of “the limbo” to get under a fence ?

Stallions have been known to duck under the shortest piece of horse fencing imaginable to pay a visit to a nearby mare…hungry horses will contort themselves to reach through a fence to get a morsel of clover…and my filly has been known to literally crawl under hot-wire fencing in order to dig up grass seeds that were sewn for spring.

Now that’s tenacity for you. And since this same filly has escaped from various fencing on at least three occasions in her young life, I have learned to become acutely aware (O.K., paranoid) about the fencing that encloses her (one fence -jumping incident cost me $1,000 in vet bills). And you can learn from my painful experience!

Choose the Right Horse Fence for Your Property

MyHorse Daily Fencing for Your HorseGood fences start with proper installation, but with all the fencing options out there, how do you know what's best for your horse property? Our FREE Guide, Fencing for Your Horse, helps you select the right contractor, gives you information about the variety of fencing available, and features preventative tips to increase the life of your investment.

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So I ask you now:

Have you walked the fence line of your horse’s property lately, checking any fencing that looks weathered, broken, or bent?

Do you know what kind of fencing is best for your horse and property?

Do you keep fencing supplies handy for repairs?

If you had to buy a new fence tomorrow, do you have any idea about fence designs or fence prices, or whether you’d prefer PVC fencing to a nice wooden rail, or even ranch rail fencing with steel posts, such as Priefert fencing?

No? Well, read on, my horse friend, because I’ve assembled Horse fencing 101 for you. Let’s face it, if you can’t keep your horse inside their fence, you can’t keep your horse safe.

So let’s take a stroll and evaluate the condition of your fence. What is the condition of the fencing posts, rail, wire, mesh, brackets? Not so good?

O.K., let’s now find an expert with a fencing company or installation contractor. Be prepared to tell them what kind of fence you have, including how many rails and of what material (wood, flexible rail, woven wire, mesh, etc.); fencing supplies, current post spacing; bracing used (if any) for ends, corners and gate areas; size of the fenced area; number of horses regularly maintained in the fencing area; unusual soil conditions; and the problems you are experiencing. The more information you share and the more questions you ask, the better equipped a fence expert will be to advise you about the solutions available.

First , let’s make sure we’re all speaking the same language when it comes to fencing designs :
Barbed wire fence: Metal strands with sharp metal barbs woven in along its length.

Broken rail fencing : See post-and-rail fencing.

Continuous-mesh fencing : Barrier made from a sheet of woven steel wire (or other material, see polymer-grid fencing ) that covers and unbroken span from the ground up, and is attached to vertical supports called T-posts. Recommended types for horses are 2-by-4-inch “square” mesh (also called “non-climb” mesh) and 4-by-2-inch “V” or “diamond” mesh.

Cross fencing : fence lines that divide pastures within a piece of property.

Coated-wire fencing : Barrier made from 12 1/2- to 14-gauge steel wire encased in high-tensile polymer or vinyl approximately 1/4 inch in diameter. (The lower the gauge number, the thicker, more heavy-duty the wire.)

Electric board fencing :Post-and-rail fencing with built in runners of conductive aluminum along 3-inch rails.

Electric braid fencing : Polyester yarns braided into dimensionally stable rope that rebounds to its original length after stretching. Conductible copper wire is braided into the rope’s exterior surface.

Electric polytape fencing : Conductive wires interwoven with strips of nylon; ranges in diameter from ½ to 2 inches.

High-tensile-polymer fencing : Barrier made from tightly strung synthetic strands.

Electric, Vinyl, Wire, and More! Learn About Different Fencing Options for Your Horse

MyHorse Daily Fencing for Your HorseFencing is one of the most important investments we'll make, but do you know which fence type you have and why? From electric fencing to vinyl systems, our FREE Guide, Fencing for Your Horse, breaks down the wide variety of style and material choices so you pick what's best for your needs.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

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High-tensile-wire fencing : Barrier made from tightly strung wire.

Non-electric monofilament fencing : Barrier made from single, untwisted strands of high-density nylon or polyester.

Perimeter fence : fence line around the outer boundary of a piece of property.

Pipe fencing : A type of post-and-rail fencing made from welded oil-stem pipe or reject material.

Polymer-grid fencing: Type of continuous-mesh fencing made from a plastic or vinyl-type material, rather than woven wire.

Poly-coated wood fencing : Barrier made from wood coated with polyethylene, a tough synthetic substance designed to prevent broken/splintered rails, discourage chewing, and reduce maintenance.

Post-and-rail fencing : Barrier made up of vertical support posts and a series of interrupted (staggered) horizontal rails. Rails can be made from wood (whole or split, see wood fencing ) a synthetic material (see synthetic post-and-rail system), or metal piping.

Synthetic post-and-rail system: Vinyl or polyethylene post-and-rail fencing.

Synthetic rail system:High-tensile-polymer fencing or vinyl/PVC fencing rails reinforced with heavy-gauge steel wire and attached to vertical support posts.

T-posts: Vertical metal supports designed with a flat plate at one end to hold them securely in the ground. Used to support continuous-mesh fencing.

Wood fencing : Barrier made from natural wood. Available in either post-and-board (horizontal barrier made from flat or “dimensional” lumber) or post and rail (horizontal barrier is made from whole, round lumber.)

So you’ve walked the length of your fencing and determined it needs repair. You may want to discuss some of the following fencing options with your fence expert, including fence prices:

  • Adding electric to a spilt rail “broken” fence system. This type of post-and-rail fence generally constructed of wood is referred to as “broken” because the rails are installed as an independent unit from one post to the next contiguous post. As a rule, a split rail fence without electric will last anywhere from eight to twelve years with moderate daily use. Install new posts in the place of any that have begun to rot at the base, replace warped or damaged rails, and ensure that you have even soil compaction on both sides of the fence line to prevent loose or leaning posts.
  • Avoid “quick fixes” such as supporting bad posts by driving stakes next to them or tying rails to posts; these are fencing practices that can create a hazard for your horses. Supplement your repaired fence with electric mesh to minimize cribbing, “walking down”, leaning or other equine behaviors that will damage your fence.
  • Add a top site rail to woven wire fence. First, replace or repair any broken or damaged fencing areas in a woven wire fence. Exercise care in splicing woven wire; each splice needs to be crimped and checked for sharp edges that can cut your horse (or you!). Check tensioning of your woven wire fence and ensure you have proper bracing in place on corners, ends and gate posts. Never use uncoated wire for fencing horses or other animals. Improve visibility of the fence by adding a top rail of continuous run flexible fencing. In widths ranging from 1″ to 5-1/4″, this type fencing has tremendous break strength which will alleviate the load on the woven wire.
  • Test existing electric mesh and electric wire fence systems. Regularly check electric fence systems to ensure the entire fence is “live”. Fence testers are available for around $14, a minimal investment to ensure your fence is working as it should. Any broken or damaged runs of electric mesh or wire are relatively easy and inexpensive to repair by splicing. Ensure that posts are solid and straight. Be sure you have a sufficient number of ground rods for your system.
  • Ensure proper post spacing. For all fence systems, posts should be spaced at no more than 12 feet. Generally, a need for more than normal levels of maintenance may indicate inadequate post support for your fence . If your current fence has post spacing of 15 feet or more, you should consider adding posts to better distribute the pressure that your horses and the weather place on a fence.

Still on the Fence About Your Fencing?

MyHorse Daily Fencing for Your HorseSagging gates are more than an aesthetic consideration. Once it gets too low you'll have to drag the end along the ground every time you open it—and forget trying to do that on horseback. Our FREE guide, Fencing for Your Horse, gives you some preventive measures for easier swinging and longer service.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

Please provide your name and email address to download this free guide.

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Last but not least, posts are the backbone of any fencing system. The type of soil you have to work with will ultimately affect installation, maintenance and longevity of your fence.

First, consider what type of fence you are planning. Most wood systems will utilize a 4″ x 4″ or 4″ round (or larger) wood post. Electric fencing can use wood posts, metal t-posts (with or without sleeves) or fiberglass rods. Flexible fencing generally calls for 4″ to 6″ round pressure treated pine posts or solid plastic posts.

Next, find out the content of your soil. Shale, rock or hard clay may require the use of a special auger. Consistently damp conditions or sandy soil may create a need for extra bracing or setting fence posts in concrete. Make sure the type of fence posts you’ll need to use are suitable for your soil situation.

Finally, evaluate fencing installation requirements and related expense. It’s easier and a lot less costly to make a change during the fence planning stage.

Amy Herdy
Amy Herdy
MyHorse Daily Managing Editor

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