As a horse owner, you know that these beautiful animals need plenty of care and attention to thrive. You do everything in your power to make sure your horses get the very best — nutrient-rich foods, the finest brushes for their coats, and top-quality horse fencing for their pasture.
Of course, it’s not always easy to decide which products or materials are best for your horses. Even the best-intentioned horse owner can find pros and cons for every product, and not every choice will suit every horse. Take fencing, for example: how can you be sure that your fencing material is suitable for your horses?
Luckily, we’re here to help. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing horse fencing.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Horse Fence
First and foremost, you need to choose the horse fencing that suits your land, your purposes, and (most importantly) your horses. Don’t worry about the fencing you see on other properties or on some equestrian influencer’s Instagram feed; stick with the fencing that works for you!
How do you know which type of fencing will work for you? Start by asking the following questions.
What Type of Horses Do You Have?
Horse fencing serves one primary purpose: to keep your horses safe by holding them in (and keeping predators out). However, not all horses are tame, gentle creatures, content to wander their fenced area. Others are — to quote The Boss — “born to run,” and those escape artists will jump over fences or try (usually unsuccessfully) to slip past the boundaries of their paddock. If your horses don’t mind the fence, you might be okay with something traditional like wood fencing. However, if your horses like to attempt a “joyride” every so often, you might want something with a little more security.
Additionally, you’ll want to consider the breeds you keep in your pastures. For example, if you have foals or miniature horses on your property, you’ll want to have a fence with small holes (like woven wire fencing) to prevent their hooves from getting stuck. These specifics, as well as your horses’ temperaments, can help determine which fencing style you need.
What’s Your Budget?
Like so many things in this life, choosing your horse fence will likely come down to budget. Fencing materials can vary wildly in price, and some fencing also requires special installation equipment that can drive up the total price.
When looking at the bill for different fences, remember this: horse fencing is important, but it’s only one of many expenses your horses (and you and your loved ones) need to be healthy and safe. If you want to splurge on your fencing, go for it — but don’t feel like you have to do so if it’s not financially feasible.
Do Maintenance Costs Matter?
We just touched on one “hidden” cost that comes with horse fencing — the cost of installation equipment. However, this is a drop in the bucket compared to maintenance costs! Some fencing materials require lots of upkeep — and that means investing lots of your time and money over the years.
However, maintenance costs vary from one fencing material to the next. You might see a benefit in spending more for a fence that won’t require as much maintenance over the years. Take some time to examine your budget, your workload, and your fencing needs before deciding on any specific material.
Are Aesthetics Important?
Finally, you will want to consider the “aesthetics” of your horse fence — and just how important they might be to you. For some, fencing is purely practical: it defines your boundary lines, it keeps the horses from running off, and it prevents predators from coming in and harming the horses. If you’re fencing in your private property and you’re not worried about it being “picture-perfect,” it’s fine to ignore aesthetics altogether and just look for the fencing that meets your needs.
However, others might want a more picturesque horse fence on their property. For example, individuals who run boarding or training facilities should consider using more attractive fencing on their land. In these cases, fencing serves two purposes: provide security to your horse clients, and offer an idyllic setting to satisfy your human customers.
Types of Fencing Material
Once you’ve asked and answered all the questions above, you’ll have a better idea of the kind of fencing you need. Now it’s time for the hard part: actually choosing a fencing material. Let’s take a look at some of the most common horse fencing materials today to see how they stack up to your list of requirements.
Lots of horse owners like electric fencing because it’s cost-effective, easy to install, and very efficient. Horses receive a jolt the first time they chew on the electric polymer line deters them from chewing and keeps them leery of the fence itself (don’t worry — vets agree that electric fencing is safe).
With all that in mind, it’s important to remember that electric fencing can easily be damaged by strong winds or even turn off due to a power failure — which means it certainly won’t hold a spooked horse running at full speed. Additionally, broken polymer lines can leave deep cuts on anyone unfortunate enough to come in contact with them. If you live in a very windy area or have excitable horses (or even little kids who aren’t too careful), this might not be the fencing choice for you.
Everyone in the equestrian world is familiar with wood fencing: thick wood planks, usually painted white, in a post-and-rail configuration that’s both attractive and effective. Horses can easily see the wooden planks, which helps them stay within the boundary lines of your pasture or paddock. Wood fencing is also more “traditional,” which makes it a great choice for training facilities.
However, wood fencing has one main problem: maintenance. Even if you weather-proof your fencing, wood that spends all day outside in the elements will eventually suffer from warping, rot, and other structural issues. The costs required to keep your wood fence in shape can really increase your annual spending. Even if your fence is in great shape, one collision with a horse can lead to a new problem — repairs AND a massive veterinarian bill!
Finally, let’s look at a fencing material that’s the best of both worlds: woven wire. It’s durable, long-lasting, and requires minimal upkeep — and you can find wire fencing options for any of your specific needs.
Got a horse who likes to try and escape? A no-climb design will prevent him from breaking free. Do you struggle with small critters breaking into your pasture? A small v-mesh weave can prevent them from getting in. It’s easy to find a style of woven wire fence that will help solve your specific fencing problems.
Of course, wire fencing does have a few drawbacks as well. The fencing can be difficult to unroll and install sometimes, particularly if you’re new to wire horse fencing. However, investing in tools to help do the job (or even hiring a certified fence installer) can be worth the money.
Another issue some people face with wire fencing is visibility. Wire can be very difficult to see from a distance, and that can mean trouble for horses, humans, and other animals on and around your property. One way to solve this problem is to use highly-visible posts or a top board of vinyl or wood to help everyone spot the fence more easily.
Choosing the Best Fencing Material
Ultimately, choosing the right horse fence is a matter of choosing what’s right for you and your horses. There is no one fencing material that’s “the best” for every horse — but every horse owner knows what “the best” for their horse will be. Take the time to carefully consider your horses’ needs, and you’ll be able to find the right horse fence for you.
Dain Rakestraw is the Director of Marketing and Client Services at Red Brand, a line of premium agricultural fencing products known as the most recognized brand of agricultural fencing in the United States.
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