Fencing For Equestrian Properties

Posted on: 10 March 2015

If you're moving onto a new equestrian property, you know you need fencing, but there are a wealth of elements to take into account. Here are some important considerations you should think about before choosing your fencing and some suggestions to make running your facility a bit easier.

Basic Fencing Considerations

The first thing you need to think about is how many horses you need to contain and if they are going to all be together within one area. Chances are you will want to divide up your property to separate your horses or the areas they use for different purposes. This means you will have both perimeter fencing, as well as cross-fencing (fencing that subdivides your larger area).

Perimeter fencing must be strong enough and high enough to contain even the most willful and curious horse. Your cross fencing should be flexible enough to be able to move it around should you decide to reconfigure your pastures or paddocks.

You may want all your horses together most of the time until you need to separate a mare in season or with foal. You could also take in boarders or new horses that change the herd dynamics and necessitate new boundaries.

Some other fencing issues include

  • zoning laws for your community
  • rotational grazing
  • flooding and water features
  • predatory animals in the area
  • risk of horse theft
  • specialty areas, such as shoeing and washing
  • training needs (round pen, arena, etc.)

Fencing Materials

Your choice of fencing materials depends somewhat on the disposition of your horses. If you need to separate horses due to fighting, stealing food, or attempts to mate, simple rail fencing won't be sufficient. You may need to resort to mesh, with support boards or planks to prevent sagging, or even to electric fencing.

If all your horses are agreeable with each other, rail fencing may work just fine. White PVC rails won't need frequent painting, and you can use them for both more decorative delineation of your arena, as well as for your pastures with a hot wire run through the top.

Avoid barbed wire or any kind of cattle fencing. If you use tension fencing, make sure it either springs or breaks under heavy pressure, versus tangling or cutting your horses. Expensive fencing can still cost less than a vet bill if one of your herd has a run-in with a wire fence.

Additional Ideas for Equine Fencing

Here are some additional ideas for equine fencing you may not have thought of:

  • Use cemented-in-place posts for the corners of your permanent perimeter fencing. Until you see how your barn runs with different cross-fencing options, don't make anything else too difficult to change.
  • If you use T-posts, look for covers or caps for the top to prevent impalement injuries.
  • To create more space between horses who persist in challenging fences between adjacent areas, leave empty aisles between pastures or paddocks.
  • Always use a top sight rail, so horses don't run at the fence not realizing it's there.

Gates

As a final element, look at how you will move horses from one area to another. Will they have to go through one pasture or paddock to get to another? Will that create problems?

Also, look at the openings between areas. Install gates that even clever horses can't breach, and think about their swing space and direction of swing (ideally both ways).

An even better solution is to put in gates that slide parallel to the fence if possible, at least around your perimeter. Put the gates on your electrical system and allow them to be opened with a gate opener. If you decide to go out for a hack on the neighborhood trail, you won't have to dismount or perform a difficult reach to open and close the gate.

Having your gates tied to remote openers and/or a keypad is also handy for hauling hay, taking the tractor in and out, or allowing visitors in while you are busy giving a lesson in the arena.

Owning horses is expensive enough without the added worry of them running off or getting into trouble right on your own property. If you put proper thought into your fencing ahead of time, you can head off many potential problems and spend your time riding instead. (For more information, contact Rut Fencing)

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