dangers of temporary fencing with step-ins
Just putting this out there because I feel like it's a newbie mistake, yet I see people who have had horses for decades use nothing but a step-in post and one line of wire to keep their horses in.
And I post it at the risk of getting bashed for my actions - but am doing it anyway in the hopes that others will learn from it. The good news is that everyone is fine, but it could have been worse. Bash away if you must.
We have had torrential rains in the last few days (about 100 mm) and the pasture was covered in pools and rivers of water. It fell so fast, the ground couldn't absorb it all. So I moved my temporary fence slightly, to prevent the horses from doing too much damage, and to keep them in a drier area. Let me explain: I have a solid, 3-line 5' tall electrobraid fence with wooden posts going all the way around the pastures and paddock, but I use temporary fencing to keep horses off some areas of the pasture so it can recover. This has always worked just fine - well, for the last couple years anyway. But perhaps I moved it too close, or perhaps the heavy rain and winds knocked over one of the step-ins I use. These are plastic step-in posts, and I string two lines of electrobraid so there's a top and middle wire. However, they were not electrified. Perhaps it was because I'd moved the fence and the horses didn't realize it was there (even though I did it a couple of days ago).
When I went out this morning, I saw all the wire was off the posts and there were deep, sliding hoofprints on the muddy ground. I'm guessing it happened early this morning, and I'm guessing Kodak did it from the size of the hoof marks, and the fact that her hind legs showed signs of mud splatter. However, neither horse has any marks on it (trust me, I looked and felt every inch!), nor could I find any horse hair. It appears that a horse (Kodak) decided to step over a downed line, or jump over it and got tangled up, or maybe even just ran into it in one of her random spooks, then panicked and ran into the paddock where she eventually got loose. All the electrobraid was strung out in the paddock, several hundred feet away from where it had been, and there were 3 step-in posts laying on the ground in the paddock.The rest were still standing in the pasture where I had planted them.
Again, both horses are fine, though I'll bet Kodak got pretty scared over it. They were both inside their stalls, waiting for me to feed them. I have shut the paddock gate now, and they will be there until spring. I'm not taking any more chances, and I had planned on putting them in the winter paddock by Nov. 1st anyway. And it's still so muddy in the pastures, so it's best to keep them out altogether. We had an incredibly warm fall, but the ground will freeze soon, so I need to do some work on the back pasture before that happens.
Overall, we got lucky. Had I used metal T-posts, she could have hurt herself much worse. Had this temporary fence line been the only thing holding in my horses, they'd be roaming the neighborhood by now. I don't know whether it was a good or a bad thing that it wasn't electrified. A horse tangled in an electric fence would certainly be even more likely to panic and hurt themselves, but maybe if it had been electrified, she wouldn't have been tempted to try to get through it.
Bottom line: using step-ins as a temporary fence line can be ok in certain circumstances, but I will be checking it more often to make sure it is still holding up well, and I will avoid creating too small an areas with it (I was trying to create a corridor using the paddock paradise concept). I probably won't let my horses out at night when there is new temporary fencing up. No way I would ever use T-posts as temporary fencing after what I just saw, nor would I ever create a temporary grazing or holding area outside of a solid perimeter fence line (which thankfully, there was, so my horses were safely contained). And yes, I know, lots of people will say their horse respects a single line and they've never had a problem. Neither did I until this morning.