dangers of temporary fencing with step-ins - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 55 Old 10-27-2017, 09:13 AM Thread Starter
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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.
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post #2 of 55 Old 10-27-2017, 09:18 AM
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No bashing.......

Very glad the horses are OK, appear uninjured.

Indeed a shared lesson learned...never under-estimate the ability of our horses to get into trouble.
....

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #3 of 55 Old 10-27-2017, 09:21 AM Thread Starter
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Indeed @horselovinguy horses are gifted at finding new ways to get in trouble! I've also had deer take down a temporary fence line (there was deer hair left as proof that time). They know how to get in the pasture by leaping between electric wires, but lose all their gracefulness when they run into a temporary fence it seems. I wonder if they hear/sense when it is electrified and when it is not.
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post #4 of 55 Old 10-27-2017, 09:49 AM
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My barn uses this fencing a lot, have for years. Minimal troubles really. We have plastic step ins with a single hot wire, sometimes two. The whole property has a perimeter fence, so no one is at risk of getting onto the road. At worst they get into the forest, butbits so thick its a fence on its own in places.

We have the main paddocks and fields that have perminant board and rail fencing. For the horses in paddocks, they will have temporary fencing run out to some grass during the day. They come back into the perminant fence at night. Occasionally the field will be sectioned off by hotwire to rest grass or seperate the herd.

The only ones that stay 24/7 in this fencing is a herd of seniors that live in the back 40. They have wire run along the forest and winds along the edge of the hay field back to a couple meadows in the forest. That hotwire has been in place for years. The only time there is a problem is on the occasion a deer or moose runs through the wire or one of them might spook through it. Then they just go eat in the hay field until someone notices.

I don't think we have ever had an issue with a horse getting hurt or tangled. The wire and insulators break easily enough. The horses all respect the fences enough not to touch the wire, hot or not.
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post #5 of 55 Old 10-27-2017, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApuetsoT View Post
My barn uses this fencing a lot, have for years. Minimal troubles really. We have plastic step ins with a single hot wire, sometimes two. The whole property has a perimeter fence, so no one is at risk of getting onto the road. At worst they get into the forest, butbits so thick its a fence on its own in places.

We have the main paddocks and fields that have perminant board and rail fencing. For the horses in paddocks, they will have temporary fencing run out to some grass during the day. They come back into the perminant fence at night. Occasionally the field will be sectioned off by hotwire to rest grass or seperate the herd.

The only ones that stay 24/7 in this fencing is a herd of seniors that live in the back 40. They have wire run along the forest and winds along the edge of the hay field back to a couple meadows in the forest. That hotwire has been in place for years. The only time there is a problem is on the occasion a deer or moose runs through the wire or one of them might spook through it. Then they just go eat in the hay field until someone notices.

I don't think we have ever had an issue with a horse getting hurt or tangled. The wire and insulators break easily enough. The horses all respect the fences enough not to touch the wire, hot or not.
That's what I thought too, until today. Good that you have perimeter fencing, but personally, I wouldn't want my horses getting loose. We live close to a road where logging trucks travel down at very high speeds and would be unable to stop for a horse. And if there's one thing I've noticed, is that loose horses like to walk in the middle of the road for some strange reason!

And while no one got hurt, I worry about the trauma of getting tangled in the fence for a horse like Kodak, who is already anxious and nervous. Also, the posts gave, obviously, but the Electrobraid did NOT break.

I'm not telling anyone not to use it, just to be aware of its dangers, and to make sure there is solid perimeter fencing all the way around.
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post #6 of 55 Old 10-27-2017, 10:10 AM
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I've used electric fencing for years without a problem. I've had horses run through it, never any injuries. The key to safe fencing is to always keep it on. If you leave it off, they are bound to discover they can go through it or under it. I have one mare who listens for the pop. If you turn it off, she lets herself out. I've seen her do it. She puts her head under, lifts the wire, and walks under it.

My old mare, never touches the wire and is the least likely to escape. The paso won't touch it- he zapped himself 5 times the first day he was here and hasn't touched it since.

High visibility tape is best-get the 3 inch tape. Even I can see that in the dark without bumping it. The 1 inch line you can't see very well in the dark.

I don't think any of that would show up in snow- what do you use for snow?
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post #7 of 55 Old 10-27-2017, 10:15 AM
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Solid fencing can be more dangerous. My one mare has no respect for solid fencing- she kicks it, steps on it at feeding time, has tried to jump out, cut herself (small abrasions), broken boards... electric is much safer for her.
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post #8 of 55 Old 10-27-2017, 10:15 AM
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I think they have several ways that they can tell. Some are smart enough to associate the sound with whether it is on or off. Others use whiskers to test - not just on/off status but strength of charge. Depending on the fence and how well grounded I think they can also feel the fence through their hooves. That's my two cents.

I was expecting to read that older posts that were fragile because of exposure snapped and impaled one of your two. Good reminder to always check your fencing. Glad everyone is OK.
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post #9 of 55 Old 10-27-2017, 10:47 AM
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Good to hear that everyone’s ok.

Definitely no bashing. I’ve used plastic step-in posts and tape (sometimes one, other times four or five strands) to divide a field and keep them away from the solid fence along the busy road. I’ve also used it as a temporary fence for half an hour or so without a solid fence.
Like others, mine had more respect for the one strand of tape than the solid fence. They’d lean and scratch themselves on the solid one but wouldn’t go near the electric fence.

I’d make sure they got a shock when it first went up and from then on, I couldn’t get them within three feet. I on the other hand regularly got a shock from the battery run fence, as I could never work out if it was on; in my defence it didn’t always make a clicking sound.

I’d hope they’d respect it even if they were panicking but we all know that their brains tend to switch off at that point. Luckily, I’ve never had trouble, but I’d still use one in the future.
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post #10 of 55 Old 10-27-2017, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4horses View Post
I've used electric fencing for years without a problem. I've had horses run through it, never any injuries. The key to safe fencing is to always keep it on. If you leave it off, they are bound to discover they can go through it or under it. I have one mare who listens for the pop. If you turn it off, she lets herself out. I've seen her do it. She puts her head under, lifts the wire, and walks under it.

My old mare, never touches the wire and is the least likely to escape. The paso won't touch it- he zapped himself 5 times the first day he was here and hasn't touched it since.

High visibility tape is best-get the 3 inch tape. Even I can see that in the dark without bumping it. The 1 inch line you can't see very well in the dark.

I don't think any of that would show up in snow- what do you use for snow?
Not only is it hard to see a white line in snow, but the lines tend to get dragged down by snow and ice. I've seen whole fence lines taken down time and time again this way. Not mine, thankfully!

When there is snow, they are confined to their winter paddock. It is about 90' x 130' and has a top board that is six inches wide, along with three hot wires. It's very secure, and if the power goes out (we can have power failures that last for days) the top board still keeps them in. My husband clears the paddock of snow with an industrial sized snow blower so the fence doesn't get buried, but last year, the snow was so high, we could only see the top of the fence. There was literally a wall of snow higher than the horses' backs in some spots. For those who don't clear the snow from their horses' enclosures, it can create problems because if there's a hard crust, or packed-down hard snow, some horses will walk right over the top of the fence. I've seen that happen too! (but again, not here!)

Oh, and the tape is a bad idea here because of the snow and ice that will accumulate on it, then the wind will rip through and pull it down. I know a few people who tried it and said they'd never do it again.

Last edited by Acadianartist; 10-27-2017 at 11:03 AM.
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