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Home First Posted Sept 7, 2008
Jul 25, 2010

Horse Fencing

by Debora Johnson

There are so many kinds of horse fencing on the market today it is often difficult to determine what kind of fencing to get. Here are a number of considerations that should be taken into account when choosing your fencing.


  • Fencing Cost
  • Your Finances
  • Horse Safety
  • People Safety (liability)
  • Durability
  • Acreage to be fenced
  • Upkeep
  • Visibility
  • Stallions on the property? They will go over of through a fence to get to a mare.
  • Local Government (County, etc.) Requirements Many people are not even aware that these requirements exist, so make sure to check. Your local Extension Service would know. Your local agricultural offices would know, as well.
  • Corners rounded or square rounded is safest, especially in herd situations.
  • Check your "Horse Insurance Policy," if you have one, to see if there is any fine print about fencing requirements in case of injury!
  • Check your Umbrella Policy for liability to see if there are any requirements that might be considered negligence.

Types of Fencing

  • Traditional Board Fencing
  • Traditional Board Fencing with Electrical Wiring
  • Rail Fencing
  • Rail Fencing with Electrical Wiring
  • Electric Fencing
  • Polyethylene Rails
  • Pipe Panels
  • Woven Wire (Make sure the weave is small enough that your horse cannot get his foot through and caught! They can easily break a leg)
  • Combination fencing such as safe wire (often referred to as "non-climb" wire fence) with a vinyl top rail.

When you look at the above lists think about what the fence will be doing. The fence must convey to the horse a mental barrier image. It is there for containment and safety of your horse! The horse must be able to see it and stop in time. A 1,000 pound horse can be really destructive. Just by their size they are able to kick, chew, lean, push, jump or run through a fence. Your fence is also there to keep undesirable influences out of your pastures, as well.

These days it is also important to think "green." You might consider using an electrified mesh strip, metal removable posts, and a unit that runs from solar energy. They are not terribly expensive and work really well. The barn where our horses are boarded uses this effectively, efficiently, and safely. They have capped the metal posts with a fitting that protects the horses from being hurt. Also,the metal posts are set quite close so that the strips are not blowing in the wind. The solar cell omits a buzz so you know if the electricity current has been broken somewhere. It is a great deterrent to cribbing and chewing, as well. The horses keep their distance from the electrified mesh ribbons. Sometimes my husband's horse, Rusty, can be seen testing the electrical current with his whiskers--ever so gently! Funny boy! This type of fence does not have to be painted. It can also be rearranged if need be. For example, if a horse is laid-up he can be put in a paddock area by himself, where he can visit with his friends. The metal posts can be added or moved to modify or create an new area. The mesh can be run accordingly, and electrified. The horse can be out in the open air where there is some movement. He is not stashed in a stall.

Never should barb wire be used. I have seen horses that have gotten tangled up in barb wire. It is not a pretty site! We all know that horses can be put in a padded stall and still get into trouble. Barb wire is trouble!

Any type of fencing being used should be able to be easily seen by the horses. You do not want a horse to run through a fence. We have all seen thin wire used with ribbon tied to it. That is so the horses can see it. In my travels, I actually saw plastic garbage bags tied to the wire for that reason. Plastic blowing, flapping, and making noise will certainly keep the horses away from the fence, but it may also cause them to become frenzied; if the horses eat the plastic it could kill them. I would not suggest this. Bad idea! Also, wire often loosens. Made sure that your wire is kept tight.

Safety checks on your fencing are really important. If nails are used in board fencing it is really important to make sure none are sticking out, loose, or completely gone. Rot is another concern.

Gates, latches, how gates are hung, and posts are all considerations when putting up fencing. I will soon write another article on gates, latches, etc., and what to think about when hanging gates.