Barbed Wire Fencing - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 60 Old 04-10-2019, 08:28 PM
Green Broke
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Barb wire isnít my first choice but in order to give the horses a couple of good sized pastures, thatís what I have to use (the corrals are post and rail). Itís three wires on the perimeter and two wires on the shared line. I keep the wire as tight as possible. I have the bottom strand as far off the ground as possible which works fine for full size horses but I strongly suspect makes it significantly easier for minis or small ponies to leave the premises.

Itís been my observation that leg injuries tend to happen (if theyíre going to happen) because of the lower wires which is what you need if you are pasturing cattle (around here that means four to five strand barb wire). I have seen horses hit a tight three strand wire fence straight on and when they hit it the front legs shot forward a bit and because there was no bottom wire there was nothing to catch the legs. They then just kind of bounced back off the fence with no injuries other than a few very minor ***** spots, as you might expect, from the barbs on the chest areas. Itís also been my observation that the bigger the pasture with plenty of roaming and grazing space the less you have to worry about fencing material.

In the perfect world, Iíd have beautiful split rail fence throughout....sigh.
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post #22 of 60 Old 04-10-2019, 08:47 PM
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For large pastures I have no problem using barbed wire. Like 700 acres and up. Those are areas where cattle will likely be in at some time, too.

For paddocks and holding pastures (2 - 50 acres), I prefer smooth wire.

Last summer I lease a place with three decent sized paddocks, or small pastures, with "floating fence" using electric tape. That was high maintenance. The wind blew the floating posts between the solid posts and I had to reset them too frequently. The deer and elk crossing the fence stretched out and I had to re-tighten the electric tape a few times.
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post #23 of 60 Old 04-10-2019, 09:55 PM
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Our internal fencing is mostly visible electrified polybraid, the perimeter fencing is barbed wire, as this is a cattle property and that's how it came. @COWCHICK77 made the excellent point that the space horses have in a paddock is very much related to their safety with fencing. In small yards and paddocks, they frequently tangle with fences. In large pastures, 5 acres up, I've only ever seen one fence tangle here in nine years, and that was in polybraid, with a silly horse who kicked at it (and never did it again).

Also, fences are dangerous until the horses know where they are, which they may not work out easily when they're going at speed and it's plain wire fencing - so I always run broad white tape as the top strand of plain wire electric fences, so the horses can see it clearly. On the perimeter barbed wire fencing, we used outriggers that run a broad white electrified tape about 1.5 feet inside the fenceline, to keep the horses' legs away from the stuff. If there are horses on the other side of a fence with a neighbour, I erect a polybraid fence about 6 feet from the barbed wire fence, to keep the horses from tangling with each other and the fence.

We also plant shelter belts alongside fencelines, to provide an additional visual cue.

I'd never build horse-specific enclosures from the stuff, and especially small constructions. But, on large pastures with plenty of room, with an electrified tape running on outriggers to keep horses away from the barbed wire, and no horses across fences from each other, you'd have to be really unlucky to have a problem.

Here's an example from the Internet, but ours are spaced wider and use broad white electric tape:

Our internal polybraid in the 5-acre paddocks:

Two new horses a few years ago having no problems at all working out the boundaries:

Electrified white tape on top of "invisible" plain wire electric fence:

A parrot perching on such tape:

Barbed wire perimeter fence with electrified white tape well inside it on outriggers:

Why we have them:

Cattle will break through polybraid occasionally (when there's a fence fault), but not generally through barbed wire. Having a cow in the wrong paddock is an easier fix than having a cow outside your property, on a road etc.
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post #24 of 60 Old 04-11-2019, 12:33 PM
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I use some barbed wire because of size of pasture. Wood paddocks and wood next to water and barn. Any new wire fence that was put up, I tied flagging around the top wire every few feet. This let the horses see it better. They have never been cut on it. It is 4 wire, with the bottom wire being barbless, so deer and dogs can go under without being cut. Also the top two wires are 13" apart. This is to help any deer jumping and not clearing the top wire to not hook foot into the 2nd wire.
I once had a horse the got caught up in barbed wire. It was some old wire(before me) that was from a very old fence in the woods. The horse had it around its front feet. I found it at feeding time when it did not come up. It stayed still. I went to get cutters. I cut wire from around feet. It did not move until I led it away. No cuts, only a few scratches. Due to people before me, I find short pieces of fence and metal every few months.
With a large pasture and wooded areas, they get scratched on branches but not on the wire. Also, it should always be tight.
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post #25 of 60 Old 04-11-2019, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
Can you use barbed wire fencing for horses?
Some say it's perfectly fine.
Some say it's too dangerous.


You "can" use any type of fencing for horses. But whether you "should" is the question.

Honestly, barbed wire is NOT an ideal choice for horses. If a horse should get caught in the fence, those barbs will really dip/rip into skin, muscle, tendons, etc much much much worse than equivelant barbless smooth wire. Smooth wire will still cut them up too, but it won't "saw" on them like the barbs will.

I live in cattle country so you do commonly see horses fenced with barbed wire, if that person also has cattle that they tend to. Since cattle have thicker hides than horses, barbed wire works better for cattle to get them to respect it better, and most ranchers aren't going to electrify all lengths of all their fences (that would just be too many sheer miles of fencing).

But, if you only have horses, and not cattle, and you have options for other fencing, then DO NOT use barbed wire. So are so many other better options.

I have 130 acres that we just paid someone to update the perimeter last year. We ripped out the old fencing and barbed wire, and replaced it with new T-posts and 3 wires of "barbless" smooth wire with the middle wire going to be electric to encourage the horses to say the heck away from it, and the bottom wire a reasonable distance off the ground b/c that tends to be the wire a horse will get it's leg through. I have all the internal pastures to fence yet once we get the house done this year, but they will probably be similar, with the corrals going to be pipe fencing.
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post #26 of 60 Old 04-11-2019, 08:16 PM
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I absolutely would not have any barbed wire on my place for any reason. On the 160 acres dairy farm where I grew up, over 20 years or so, two of our horses were badly scarred. One of them would certainly have been dead if it hadn't been a level-headed old roping horse that stood quietly until somebody freed it. All that barbed wire is long gone now. My brother-in-law runs over 100 head of Angus on that and adjoining land, and all his fences are high-tensile smooth wire electric.

I use the same fencing for my horses and cattle, Premier Intellibraid. Once the cattle are trained to respect the fence, they don't challenge it. The only fence problem I have with the cattle is Scottish Highlands have such long horns that they have a tendency to lift a rope off an insulator every once in a while.
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post #27 of 60 Old 04-11-2019, 08:34 PM
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It's one of those things that you use if you have to, but if there are other options, then no.

'Barbless' barbed (twisted) wire is the same price as barbed wire. While still not great, it's slightly safer for the same cost if you are installing new. If you use either of those, reinforce it with electric so the horses stay away from it, and keep it humming tight. Most severe barbed/twisted wire injuries seem to be from saggy wire. Animals on a lot of acreage tend to leave the fencing alone. If your fences are enclosing 1000-acre fields, then yeah, you can get away with it in most cases provided the animals can see it.

Hi-tensile is popular here-- is it really all that safe? No. But it's better than barbed wire and cost for installation isn't all that much more. Some horses manage to hit it hard enough to 'cheese slice' themselves to pieces, but I know at least a dozen people here that use it, and nobody has ever had a serious injury. Hi-tensile is usually electric on the top and second-from-the-bottom strands. It's main safety issue if you keep it tight is that it's invisible. My horses are kept in with hi-tensile, but they know where the boundaries are, and it's reinforced with electric tape so it's easier for them to see.

If you can afford it, post and rail, vinyl fence, post and board are ideal, but rarely found here. A few places have no-climb, but the amount of snow that and other mesh fences stop make those less common than rail or wire fences. Mesh fences will drift over with the first snowstorm, then your pastures are unusable all winter unless you reinforce it with higher posts tacked on, and electric, or scoop/snowblow around the inside to keep the animals from walking out over the drifts.

Electric options are common and relatively inexpensive. They are relatively safe provided they are kept tight and maintained, the animals can see them, and the charger works reliably.
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post #28 of 60 Old 04-11-2019, 10:19 PM
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Neighbor's fence was barbed wire, before we bought the land and removed it.
He allowed another neighbor to use the land for 3 horses.
Those 3 always had new cuts & scrapes at the right heights for the fence. One even ripped up its right eyelids on the fence one day.
So, my vote is it's not worth the risk.
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post #29 of 60 Old 04-11-2019, 10:37 PM
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When I was a kid my sister and her pony got tangled in some barbed wire buried in grass. She said she has rarely been so scared. They came home dripping blood, and shaking, both of them, and they were lucky they only needed stitches. She bears the scars to the day, and if the pony was still alive after all these years, he would too.

The first thing we did when we moved here was take down all the barbed wire fences and replace them with electric braid.
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post #30 of 60 Old 04-12-2019, 02:05 PM
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A family down the road from where I grew up always had 15 horses or so contained by rusty, saggy, horrid barbed wire fence. In all the years we lived there, they never had a horse injured on the fence-- even brand new foals.

About 5 years ago, they came into some money, ripped all of that out, and put in welded pipe fencing around the barn area and electrobraid around the pastures. Since then, they've lost two horses to fence injuries. One old gelding slipped, fell in a corner, and put his rear legs through the pipe fence. He broke his pelvis struggling before anyone saw him. The other was a 2 y.o. that tried to jump the electric when his buddy was trailered away, slipped and fell on it, got tangled and broke his neck struggling from the current shocking him. She saw that happen-- in the minute it took them to run to his aid, he was dead.

Murphy's Law and all that....
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