Choosing horse fencing is an important consideration when setting up any environment for your horse. This applies whether it be a farm fence or simply backyard fencing. Fences are essentially an “agreement” between you and your horse as most horses are capable of escaping if they so desire. Fence related injuries are a very common cause of veterinary calls so safety should be a primary concern.
Several things should be considered before you install a fence. In most cases, the best and safest type of fencing is a wooden fence. Western red or Alaskan white cedar is the most cost-effective of all the wood horse fencing because it is so durable. They are also very weather-resistant as well as insect infestation-resistant. Because of their natural oils, they are considered the most decay and mold resistant of all woods. Cedar is especially recommended in regions with harsh winters. It is the most environmentally friendly as it requires no treating.
Oak, locust, pine, spruce and hemlock are other options for wood horse fencing. Oak is the traditional horse fencing wood because of its durability. It is also very safe for those horses that chew on their fence. Locust is another hardwood that is environmentally safe and does not require treating. This is an excellent choice for posts. Pine is an inexpensive choice but will bow and warp over time, even with pressure and chemical treating. Spruce is another option that requires treating to prevent cracking, deterioration and warping. Hemlock is a softer wood and better suited for posts. However if treated, it can be used for rails as well. If treated, it will not bow or warp over time.
If you choose wood to create your fence, it is good to use wood from mature trees, as its endurance is much higher. Though many woods dictate it, it is preferable to avoid treated wood for horse fencing. Most treated wood has formaldehyde as a preservative and arsenic for insect infestation. Since many horses entertain themselves by chewing on wood, treated wood can be toxic to them. It has been noted that even pressure treated wood exhibits chemical discoloration, which would indicate that they too are using chemicals. With that said, pressure treated wood will always excel over natural wood for durability.
Split rail horse fencing has been used for hundreds of years. It requires no nails so are fast to assemble, once the fence posts are positioned. It also has a pleasant, traditional appearance. Fences that use screws or nails bring the danger of horses stepping on them. This dangerous situation invites injuries that can result in abscesses and tetanus.
In general, vinyl fencing is longer lasting than wood fencing. Though it is the most expensive of most horse fencing, it is low maintenance, retains a clean appearance and is easy to assemble. The only drawback is some horses easily dismantle it and escape their enclosure. Some vinyl fencing comes with enclosed wood interiors that hold up well and can be the best of both wood and vinyl horse fencing. The only drawback there is the expense.
For less expensive options woven wire fencing is the best. It is important to choose a weave that a horse cannot get his hoof trapped. Rope fences are quick and easy and can be put up temporarily. Using capped metal posts with hot wire tape will also do the trick in keeping your horses where they need to be. It is important to note that barbed wire should never be used with horses. Unlike cattle and other livestock, a horse’s hide is far too delicate and with their curiosity and flight instinct, it is extremely dangerous.
Regardless of the type of fence you use, it is advisable to run a hot wire line around the top rail. Many prefer to run a second line in the middle. Running an underground line for electricity or using solar battery will serve to connect the hot wire. The hot wire will prevent curiosity, chewing and cribbing. Other options to prevent chewing and cribbing are running a heavy metal strip or rubber line along the top rail of your fence.