Fencing for your horse’s field: What you need to know

Friday 5th February, 2016

When thinking about accommodation for our horses we most often focus solely on the stables and shelter available on a yard, but fencing is an important part of accommodation that also needs careful consideration. Horses are expensive investments that need protection both from outside threats such as busy roads and would-be horse thieves, and also other less than friendly field mates. Your fencing will serve as an effective deterrent to unwanted visitors whilst keeping your horse safe from other influences in his immediate environment.

As part of the premium paid by horse owners, most reputable livery yard owners will meticulously maintain their fencing to ensure the safety of all field mates, however the suitability of this fencing for your horse as an individual is your responsibility as the owner. When choosing a yard or considering what fencing to install it is vital that you consider the current fencing provision and whether you will need to modify or upgrade it for your horse. Here we explore the most common types of fencing and how they are used:

Post and rail

Perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing, this type of fencing can be painted or treated to create a beautiful border to your field that will contain your horses. Post and rail is very durable and sturdy which can be an advantage to busy yards with boisterous field mates, however its rigidity can also be a negative as injuries can easily be incurred against this unforgiving fence. Wooden fences can often be at the mercy of crib biters and kicking horses, and any damage incurred must be repaired or replaced immediately to prevent further injuries from splintered wood. Post and rail is one of the most expensive and most labour intensive fences to install, yet the investment can pay dividends in the long run if you intend to keep horses for the foreseeable future.

Sheep wire

This is one of the most common types of fencing, as you still have the benefit of sturdy wooden posts with cheaper woven wire between and a single strand of wire running above it. This fencing is a little more flexible and particularly good for unusual field sizes or for fields that require a lot of fencing to create multiple sections for grazing rotation and herd segregation. Beware of yards that use barb wire instead of a single line of wire as this can cause severe lacerations to your horse, and also take into consideration that wire fences are less visible than wooden fences and so injuries can be a more frequent occurrence in bolshie animals.

Electric Fencing

Electric fences have been long used to contain animals safely and are very easy to install. Consisting of either plastic or wooden posts driven into the ground with electrified plastic and metal braids running between them, this fencing can be a cost effective solution to rigid fencing and horses quickly learn to avoid the fence after their first experience. Serving as a psychological rather than a physical deterrent, electric fences are often used alongside traditional wooden or wire fences to deter the horses from leaning on the existing provision, and the current can be switched off at any time.

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