Is this type of fencing good for horses?
My neighbor has a couple acres of property behind my house where he keeps sheep. He often rotates the sheep, so sometimes the field has sheep, sometimes it doesn't. I've been thinking about asking him if he'd ever consider renting the field out to me so I could finally keep a horse nearby. I know there's a ton to consider in horse ownership, but my first question is about fencing. The field (approximately 2 acres, I think) has wire fencing with wood posts. The wire does have holes that progressively get larger from bottom to top. The bottom holes are about 2"x8" and the top probably 5"x8". Is that unacceptable for horses? I know the holes can't be too large so their hooves don't get caught, but I don't know what is too large. The fence is approximately 4 to 4.5 feet high and juts up against woods in several places, with shrubbery coming right up against it in spots.
Trust me... I won't go into this if I don't know everything there is to know. I'm just starting out, so if I sound ignorant, that's because I am (in fencing issues at least!) :-)
It sounds like Field Fencing. And I know a lot of people use it here in Fl. My whole Exterior Fence is done in Field fencing and I havent had a problem yet. But I also have electric across the top... so they dont get close to. But even before the electric they were fine.
If he is rotating his fields he may not want another animal grazing on them. It is worth a shot though. Does sound like field fence. I haven't had a problem with it. I think any fence can be a danger to a horse in one way or another.
The thickness of the wire is important - ideally you need a thick wire which will will not deform. Some wire fencing is made of very thin wire and when the horse kicks out the foot can go through and the horse's hoof gets trapped. The horse then struggles and cuts into the flesh down to the ligaments.
In such circumstances, if the horse is not rescued quickly then the horse does further damage to itself and eventually the wound can go gangrenous - which often means that the horse ultimately gets put down. If the horse is cut by fence wire then it need treatment as soon as possible - very often by anti biotics and Hibiscrub - infection is the enemy. Tendon damage can be disastrous.
Certainly rigging up an electric tape fence on the horse's side of the fence helps to deter the horse from going too close to the wire fence. But if the horse does get caught up in an electrified fence which does not cut out, then the horse is shocked by the pulses from the power unit.
The electric tape is itself razor sharp - run it through your own fingers and you will see for yourself. However a friend of mine uses only two lines of wide tape on the longer posts. It is important for the horse to know that the tape is electrified - then they will usually stear clear of it.
The problem is nearly always a fight over the fence between two horses. It can also be caused by a fight in a field between two horses when one decides to exit the paddock and in the process gets itself caught up whilst trying to jump out. Hormones are often involved.
A very sensitive time is when introducing a new horse to a paddock already occupied by a small herd. The introduction of a new horse could upset the heirachy already established. Ideally any horse should be carefully introduced over time to the existing herd and not just for reasons of infection.
Try not to mix mares with geldings, especially in the spring. Of course, stallions must always be kept separate.
The best fencing for horses is made up of wooden post and rail fencing backed up by a 3 foot deep natural hedge. Do you have hedges in your part of the world?
Some studs in the UK use a system of two parallel lines of wooden post and rail leaving a yard between each line of fencing. Lovely if it can be afforded.
Sheep graze down a pasture of the vegetation of weeds etc. They will eat what a horse won't. But in the process they cover the field with sheep dung. They also represent a different containment problem - especially in the lambing season. Even if sheep share the field you should still watch out for poisonous weeds - ie yew, deadly nightshade and ragwort - or whatever you have in your part of the world.
There is no gold plated answer to this fencing problem. It is a nightmare on a do it yourself livery yards where horses share large fields. Sooner or later there will be a fight and a horse can be maimed.
The carefully thought out segregation of grazing pasture is a mark of good management by the manager of the yard. Always ask about the policy operated. Sadly in modern times a farmer may know a lot about sheep and cattle but very little about modern horses.
The big risks to horses : ligament & tendon damage, fights, colic, laminitis, poison and a wide rage of infections are all to be found in the paddocks.
Judge where you leave your horse by how the farmer or barn owner manages his land over the 12 month cycle.
Be lucky and be cautious.
I agree with what Barry Golden has said.
But it is true that any fencing can injure a horse. My trainer has electrobraid, caps on every T-post, and she had a 3 year old that was with her for training a few months ago take a HUGE gash to his pastern area on a hind leg. We can't understand how it happened still...we think he was close to the fence kicking at a fly or something, and got hung up. He recovered just fine though, minimal scarring that should be covered with hair eventually, and he's back in training and doing great, although he did have to go home with his owner for a while.
Just goes to show though...horses can find a way to hurt themselves on good fencing too!
I keep claiming that the horse is the only creature that can injure itself with a nerf ball... Just like kids, you can't protect them from everything, only try.
If you can do the lot use a hot line (I like Equirope) about 30" up from the ground where their leg would touch it first when they reach out to paw the fence. If you train them to an electric fence (only takes a half day) first they will never raise a foot up in that area. Another hot line along the top will keep them from ridding the fence down with their neck reaching over.
We are currently fencing 16 horses from all kinds of backgrounds with electric fence, some of them for years. None of them ever give any problems. They know exactly where it is and just avoid it completely except when "carefully" eating right under it (saves me mowing under it).
I put it in a round pen or corral and stretch a hot rope across fencing off about 1/4 to 1/3rd of it. Pile a batch of hay on the other side. Once they have contacted it twice (some only need once) I have no qualms in turning them into a pasture fenced with it. I do like to walk them around the perimeter of the pasture first letting them see where the rope is at then they remember it well. In spite of what a lot of people think horses are really pretty smart and have very good retention, especially about things that bite... :-)
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