Building a fence for horse paddocks and pastures presents unique challenges that deserve careful consideration. The type of fence that works best for privacy or smaller animals might not be the best one for your horse pasture. Horses need the fence to be both a physical barrier and a visual barrier. If they cannot easily see the fence, they may accidentally run into it, resulting in injury to the horse and damage to the fence. Fencing needs to be strong enough to stand up to pressure from horses testing their limits and flexible enough that it does not cause injury to the same animals it is protecting.
The most crucial function of a horse fence is to keep the horses on your property. There are many types of fences that can do the job. To choose the best one for your particular situation, you need to know your animals.
If you only have a few horses that have lived together for a while and are content where they are, they are less likely to push their boundaries and test the fence. You can encourage this behavior by ensuring that grazing conditions inside the paddock are acceptable. They are also less prone to try to wander if they have a larger living space in general. Keeping your horses content within their paddock will go a long way towards keeping them inside their enclosure.
On the other hand, if you have energetic, young horses, you will need a more substantial fence. These young ones may run into the fence in the course of playing or running around the paddock. If you are boarding animals and have frequent turnover among your clients, you may have a similar challenge. Horses are also more prone to test the stability of enclosures that are new to them.
Keeping sheep, goats, or cows in the same pasture with your horses will also influence the type of fence needed. Cows are more likely than horses to lean against the fencing. Using electrified fencing may be beneficial in teaching them to keep away from the fence. It is recommended that you have some electrical knowledge if you are using electric fencing, as it will need regular maintenance. You will need to check the wire tension and test the charge to make sure it is still live. Wet vegetation touching the fence can short it out. So, you will need to keep grass and weeds trimmed. The maintenance is not difficult but must be done regularly.
Horse fences also serve the vital role of keeping the horses safe. By keeping them from escaping the property, the fence prevents them from wandering onto neighboring highways. However, the right type of fence can also protect them from outside dangers. Threats may come in the form of large predators or smaller animals carrying diseases. Raccoons and opossums may sneak in carrying rabies, leptospirosis, or Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM). Keeping these critters out may require the addition of mesh wire to your fence.
If you have smaller horses, such as foals or miniature horses, you will want to make sure that the mesh has small enough holes that their hooves cannot be trapped in the mesh. Diamond mesh fencing is the safest for horses for this reason. However, mesh fencing made of wires can be difficult for horses and other animals to see when used by itself. Pairing it with a wooden or metal top rail makes the fence more visible and, thus, safer. You will also want to make sure that the bottom of your fence is low enough to prevent these smaller animals from getting their heads stuck under the fence.
The way that the fence looks on your property may be more important than you think. A good looking horse fence can add significantly to your property value. If the fence you are building is for a boarding or training facility, it will inevitably impact the type of clients you attract. If you want to draw in high-end clientele, you will want to make sure that your facility looks the part. The fence is a big part of that appeal. Rescue facilities fall into a similar category. With a high dependence on donations for day-to-day operations, you want to maintain your facility in a way that will draw donors to fund your efforts.
Aesthetic appeal leads many people to go with a traditional wood board horse fence. The cost of this type of fence varies with the type of wood used. Hardwoods like oak are a more significant investment upfront, but the boards will last longer than those from softer woods such as pine. As with any wood products, these fences can be left to weather naturally. If you stain or paint them, however, they will last much longer. They look sharp when cared for properly. These fences are also highly visible to the horses. Unfortunately, if a horse does break through, they can get splinters from the broken boards. To avoid this problem, you can build a pole fence. Another option is a combination fence that has boards on the exterior and poles on the inside, giving you both strength and aesthetics.
If you ask horse owners across the country what the best type of fencing is, you are bound to get a variety of answers. In the eastern United States, four board horse fencing is very popular. In the Midwest, you are more likely to see pipe fences. While regional trends and environmental factors are important, there is also the fence’s location on your property to consider.
Perimeter fencing is the last line of defense in keeping the horses from escaping. As such, it is usually stronger and taller than paddock fences. Post and board fences are popular choices for a perimeter fence, as they look good, are highly visible to the horses, and are reasonably robust.
Your local surroundings are also important to consider. Think about whether it is worse for a horse to escape or be injured while attempting to escape. If your horse gets out, is it likely to wander onto your neighbor’s farm, or is it going to be confronted with freeway traffic?
The answer to this question may tell you whether it is more important to have an impenetrable fence or a more flexible option.
For those that own horses, the type of fence to build is a complex decision. There are many variables to consider. You must think not only about the available options but the temperament of your unique animals. The best fence for you is going to be the one that keeps your horses safe at home.