Good Fences Bring Peace of Mind
While standing in my field last week pondering why my weanling colt feels comfortable walking straight through my shoddy electric fence, it dawned on me that fencing is a huge part of horse ownership. We are preparing to fence our 57 acres, and are making decisions on materials and budget. I thought it might be nice to talk with our fencing company, Steve Leggett of Aussie Fencing, for a brief overview of horse fencing.
What are the most common types of horse fencing?
Non-Climb Wire Horse Fence
This is a wire mesh fence, designed to protect horse's hooves, hides, and bodies from common fence injuries (like cuts, hooves going through, or entanglement) by utilizing small mesh spacing designed to flex on impact.
Very Rough Price (assuming 4' fence on steel t-post): $4.50 per foot
Pros: Relatively cheap compared to some other non-wire fence types. Easy to find and purchase materials. A good, basic fence.
Cons: Most expensive of the wire types of fence. Can be difficult to install correctly and effectively without the proper tools/knowledge. Will bow if horses lean over it frequently and will need to be retightened.
Fence made to mimic board fencing. Rails and posts are made of vinyl, usually white. Posts have holes where rails slip into and caps on top of posts for a finished look. Little maintenance needed except for washing of boards/rails annually to keep it looking nice.
Very Rough Price: $12.00 per foot
Pros: High visual barrier. Looks nice and tidy. Easy to install. Somewhat inexpensive.
Cons: Becomes brittle, cracks easily. White color, which is most common, needs to be washed annually (in the Pacific Northwest). Not suitable for horses that pressure fences.
Continuous Panel Fence
Fence is made from steel pipe and rails that are welded together. Usually 4 or 5 rails per panel. Posts have a dome cap that is welded on to finish the look.
Very Rough Price: $15.00 per foot
Pros: High visual barrier. Maintenance free. Safe for most horses and withstands high fence pressure.
Cons: Expensive. Some people do not like the "rustic" look as metal turns rust colored. Needs someone who can weld to install properly.
Round 3 Rail Wood Post
Round, treated wood rails hung on round, treated wood posts. Not pre-fabricated wood dowel fencing. Very Rough Price: $14.00 per foot
Pros: High visual barrier. Easy to find and purchase materials. Relatively safe for most horses and withstands high fence pressure.
Cons: Expensive. Wood will eventually rot (20 to 25-year life expectancy if using good sized posts and rails). Some horses may chew rails/posts causing damage to fence, horse's teeth.
What is the best horse fencing in your opinion?
Continuous panel fence. Maintenance free and lasts a very long time. Strong and safe including for high pressure fence situations. Clean and tidy looking. Makes horse pastures and facilities look sharp and tied together.
What are the most common mistakes you see in horse fencing?
- Brace assemblies being too short and not providing good support for the fence strain – This leads to saggy wire fences and/or terminal posts jacking out of the ground.
- Using concrete to fill post holes – It's the 2 inches at ground level that a wood post rots first whether in concrete or not. Concrete traps moisture around the base of the post, even if it's domed as well as possible to promote runoff. This constant moisture will cause the post to rot more quickly than if it were pounded into the ground directly (what we like to do) or back filled with gravel. Replacing posts set in concrete can be a difficult task as the concrete ball must be removed from the ground, creating a huge hole where setting a new post will then become more difficult. Then the concrete ball has to be disposed of somewhere too, either costing a lot of money in dump fees, or stacking up and cluttering an area, creating a potential safety hazard.
Originally from Queensland, Australia, Steve Leggett has been fencing in the Northwest for eight years. He enjoys helping customers design and create fences that are highly durable, safe, and also aesthetically pleasing. In addition to horse fencing, he also specializes in other types of livestock fencing as well as designing and building animal handling yards (corrals).
Aussie Fencing – Blaine, WA
(406) 839-0758 or (360) 920-6679