Effective fencing helps keep a horse enclosed to a specific
area, keeping it safe and preventing it from straying or getting into any
unwanted locations. Laws in many countries require owners to use adequate means
to contain their horses in a field. The type of fence needed depends on the
type of horse. For example, a high single-rail fence can keep in a 17-hand
warmblood, but may allow enough room for a Shetland pony to walk underneath.
Weight should also be taken into account because a large draft horse could push
through a fence that may be enough to contain a pony. Hedges can also provide
suitable containment, as long as they are dense and free of poisonous plants. A
fence can also be less effective during the winter months; snow drifts reduce
the effective height and can make gaps in hedges.
Post and rail fences are considered the standard when it
comes to fencing. They are strong, sturdy, and attractive. Although the next
best thing to hedges, it can get expensive. Good weather-resistant lumber with
a nontoxic preservative should be used.
If well-built, with the wire stretched tight, a plain round
wire fence may serve as a protective barrier. Use five or six strands, with the
bottom one at least 12" above the ground. Use markers, such as strips of
white cloth, so that the wires are visible because there is always a
possibility that the horse won’t see them and may gallop directly into the
Tape fencing consists of strong plastic tape stretched
between wooden posts. It may not look as traditional as post and rail fencing,
but it is cheaper and can be just as effective and can be set up with an
electric current. The white tape is also highly visible, and is long-lasting
because the material doesn’t rot.
Electric fencing is effective, especially if used with
another fence. When a horse touches the wire, it receives a small shock, so
this should not be used with a thin-skinned horse. The wire should be made
visible for safety. The wire does not provide a sufficient barrier if the
current is off; horses are intelligent enough to learn that they will only get
shocked when they hear the characteristic clicking that the fence makes while
it is on.
Barbed wire may work well for sheep or cattle,
but it is not good for horses because of their fine skin. Some kinds of wire
mesh may also be unsafe; if a horse puts its foot through the mesh, it may be
unable to pull its leg free without experiencing injury.
Check fences regularly and repair them if necessary before a
horse escapes or injures itself. Wire strands can stretch and may possibly need
to be tightened. The sections of the post that are buried under the ground rot
faster than the exposed sections, so they should be checked carefully. Fences
should be painted with a non-toxic preservative about every two years.
Gates should open into the field so that the horse cannot
push its way out. Wooden gates are relatively light. It is worth fitting
good-quality hinges and fastenings because these make opening and closing the
gate much easier. Like fences, they need regular painting with wood
preservative. Heavy-duty metal gates are strong and last a long time if they
are aluminum or properly rust proofed. Metal gates can be heavy and difficult
to handle. Also, if a horse does try to get over the gate or gets its leg
trapped in the bars, it can be seriously injured because the bars don’t break.
These are suggestions. If you have any questions, please contact
your veterinarian or local horse professional.