Keeping your paddocks safe and secure with suitable fencing could save your horse’s life and prevent unnecessary injuries. But before deciding on which type of fence to use, you need to take into account the amount of land you have, the number of horses kept on it and how much money you have to spend.
Top of the range
If you are looking to invest in durable, sturdy fencing, timber or plastic post and rail is ideal.
You can erect post and rail yourself, but for a professional job, most owners use a contractor. Some manufacturers deliver nationwide and offer an installation service.
Most local woodyards sell post and rail at competitive prices, and there are also several national companies who sell direct to the equestrian market.
On a budget
If your funds are limited, you don’t have to compromise on safety, as there are plenty of economical options, too.
Electric fencing has developed and improved since it was first created in the mid-eighties, and it is now a permanent feature in many paddocks.
It can be bought from agricultural merchants, direct from manufacturers or through equestrian mail order catalogues. Starter kits are extremely popular and usually consist of about 100m to 200m of tape, an energiser to electrify the tape and 10 or more posts.
The main advantages of electric fencing are its versatility and ease of use. If you only have a small field and want to strip graze your land, a battery-powered energiser is adequate. If you have to divide a very large field, an energiser powered by mains electricity would be much more cost-effective in the long term.
Wire mesh fencing, secured between wooden posts, is another option that has become popular with horseowners in recent years. It’s advisable to buy mesh specifically designed for equestrian use, as opposed to sheep netting, pig netting or chicken wire, as horses can get their hooves caught if the holes are too large.
Once you’ve decided which type of fencing to use, the next step is to plan exactly how you want your land sectioned and the most convenient position for entrance gates.
- As a general guide, fences for horses should be between 3ft 6in and 4ft 6in in height. Lower rails should be placed approximately 1ft 6in above ground level
- If you decide to use electric fencing, you must make sure that the electrified line does not lose its power by ‘earthing’. In other words, the line should not come into contact with anything – and that includes vegetation – apart from the insulators or insulated posts
- Temporary electricfences can become loose in wet and windy weather, so check and re-position sagging temporary posts daily
- Introduce horses to electric fencing gradually, by erecting it near a permanent fence at first and then gradually moving itout
- Wherever possible, avoid using barbed wire and very thin wire. If you do have to use these materials, run a line of electric fencing within the perimeter of the fence
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For a buyers’ guide to the types of fencing available, check out the June issue of HORSE magazine. To purchase a copy of this as a back issue contact (tel: 020 7261 5106).