Having horses on your property can be a highly rewarding experience. It can also be challenging if you don’t have the correct fence built for your property, pens, and corrals.
Safety must be a top priority when constructing a barrier for these intelligent animals. Barbed wire is a popular choice on many ranches because of its affordability and effectiveness, but it also creates a more significant risk of harm for the horse.
Although building codes will determine your final fencing arrangement, a field fence must be at least 54 inches above ground level to be effective. If your horses will be near roadways, at least five feet is necessary to keep the animals safe.
Your paddocks and stall runs should have a minimum safe height of six feet.
At the bottom of the fence, an opening of at least eight inches is necessary to prevent a horse’s legs or feet from getting trapped. That gap is also small enough to prevent a foal from rolling underneath it.
Tips for a Better Horse Fence
The acute angles that brace wires form can create an entrapment hazard if a horse can reach them. That’s why most wire fences are not suitable as a field fence for horses. If you do use this material, then using boards in the corners to block access is essential to a successful experience.
Here are some additional tips to consider when building a field fencing plan for your horses.
- Visibility is an essential component of the design.
If a horse doesn’t see a fence, then the animal might try to run through it. Visibility is necessary for safety, especially if you have wired materials for the barrier. You can improve a wire fence by adding a top rail to the design. Painted wood, white vinyl ribbon, or PVC are all potential possibilities.
- Electrification isn’t always useful.
Intelligent horses find ways to get around the electrification of a fence to graze on the other side. Some animals decide to avoid the jolt that your barrier provides, but then others will take the shock because their desire is stronger than the deterrent. Most horses can also figure out when the fence is on by testing the wires, making it a necessity to run power around-the-clock in some fields.
- Put the smooth side of the fence toward the horse.
Horses love to run along fence lines in fields. If you mount the boards of the barrier to the outside of your posts, then the animals can knock them loose by leaning into them.
Exposed posts can also injure the animals as they run. When you need a structure that crosses your pasture, then combining an electrified tape in front of your primary structure can reduce injuries. Post and board fences account for 10% of reported horse injuries each year.
- Think about the strength of your fence posts.
The strength of a field fence for horses comes from the posts used to create the structure. It is a best practice to set wooden posts in concrete, especially for any corners or gates that are in your design. If you’re using metal T-posts, then wooden gate and corner assemblies are necessary for a successful field model.
Wood will still rot over time, so choose hardwood materials that have resistance against insect deterioration and decomposition. Cypress, redwood, and cedar are the best, and the most expensive choices, with 8-inch diameter products starting at $28 per unit.
What Barrier Materials Are Best to Use for Horses?
The barrier is the functional component of your field fence. If you have a stubborn horse who decides that it is time to explore somewhere else, most structures will not hold them back.
That means your goal should be to create a fence that has enough strength to contain a horse without injuring it if the animal charges the structure.
Several materials can create this outcome. Wooden boards and PVC board fence are popular options because they provide the traditional look for a stable while offering enough strength. Internally-ribbed boards resist breakage, and you can install an electrical wire system as an additional deterrent.
Steel fences are strong enough that a charging horse could hurt itself. That means a high-visibility installation is necessary to prevent injuries with this material.
Wire fences are usually the cheapest to build. Some of them are almost impossible for a horse to see. High-tensile products are generally the best choice for this option with protected braces, helping to prevent unintended injuries. Thin metal wires almost always need an electrical deterrent.
A resilient field fence for horses will protect the animals without breaking your budget. This guide can help you to choose the right materials and approaches to use so that you can achieve all of your goals. As a final step, remember to check on local coding requirements to ensure your property remains in compliance at all times.
Angel Fox works as a content specialist at Fence-world.com, a fence company in Orange County and Apple Valley.