The decision to add one or more equines to your property is one that should not be taken lightly, especially if your existing fences were not specifically designed for penning horses. Unlike cattle, sheep and other common farm animals, horses can startle easily and can injure themselves severely on fencing and other obstacles if they panic and begin running about wildly. Before bringing your new horse home to your farm, use these horse fencing tips to decide if your current fences will be safe and what you can do to improve them if they are not.
Common farm fencing can be problematic
Many types of existing fencing are dangerous when used for horses, ponies, donkeys, mules and burros. These include:
- fences made of several strands of barbed wire
- fences made of high tensile wire that does not have a protective coating
- fences made of woven wire with a strand or two of barbed wire at the top
- fences that use steel t-posts that do not have a protective cap
- wooden fences that are in disrepair and have jagged edges, splinters or protruding nails or screws
In addition to the materials and the actual condition of any existing fencing, horse owners must also make sure that existing or new fences are tall enough to safely secure horses. In most cases, fencing meant to pen equines safely should be at least as high as the withers of the tallest animal that is expected to be kept within the fence.
The importance of visibility
Another factor that is important when considering proper horse fencing is visibility. Even though most horses enjoy good eyesight, they may not be able to focus on potentially dangerous obstacles when they are excited or nervous. Because of this, it is important that horse owners take extra precautions to ensure that horse fencing is as visible as possible to the horses it is meant to contain. Existing wire fences that are otherwise safe can still be difficult for the horse to see. To make them safer and more visible, horse owners can install a vinyl or wooden board to the top of the fence, called a sight board. If this is not possible, consider tying strips of brightly colored cloth along the top of the fence where it will blow in the wind and be visible to horses in the area.
Safe hose fencing choices
If your farm does not have existing fences, or does not have any that are safe for use with horses, you may need to have new fences installed. Excellent horse fencing choices include:
- steel pipe fencing
- vinyl fencing
- tightly woven wire, topped with a highly visible vinyl or wooden sight board
Before making modifications on existing fences or determining the materials needed for a new fence, consider contacting a reputable fencing contractor in your area and discussing your fencing needs with them. They will be able to help you choose materials and a fence design that will be durable and safe for equines of any variety.