Your facility is located on a highway; your fields are surrounded by heavily wooded areas; there are places where there is constant traffic; you are thinking of introducing additional horses or stallions to the paddocks or pasture—it’s a good thing that today’s fencing systems enable you to accommodate all these scenarios while providing far safer and more efficient protection then ever before. However, there are several basics that have not changed over the years, and need to be addressed whether you are designing a whole new system, upgrading, or modifying what is already in place.
First and foremost: you need to plan ahead. If you are going the new fencing route, for instance, choose a system that will address your needs now and into the future. And, do your homework. The more you know about the available options, the easier it will be for you to determine what will hold up best in your area.
It is also worth the effort to get a diagram of the area you are planning to fence so that you can plan a system to work in conjunction with your ideas. It is much easier and far more cost effective to design a layout on paper before installing expensive fencing than to find out later that it doesn’t accomplish what you need. As an example, take a facility where there is a lot of activity: in this case you may want to create a wide transit aisle between the barn and paddocks, and create walkways to avoid congestion between the paddocks.
Another consideration will be financial, If you are in a situation where there is ample grazing space—the ideal is estimated at one acre per horse if that horse is pastured 24/7—you will clearly need many more feet, if not miles, of fencing than a barn with limited turn-out areas.
Wood is considered to be a conventional choice for fencing. Readily available, it can be installed quickly, either personally or professionally, and is aesthetically pleasing. Wherever you are located, there is a specific type of wood best suited to your area, but make sure it is intended specifically for fencing purposes, which means that it will be mature and dry—green or young wood is wet inside, which can cause twisting and/or splitting as it dries. Also, you may want to weigh the benefits and risks of installing pressure treated posts to extend the life of the fence. Despite the fact that it is chemically treated and considered toxic, a horse would have to consume three times his weight for these to be harmful.
Installing wood fencing varies in price depending on region and ground conditions. For instance, in rocky areas or where the soil is more acidic, special machinery is needed for proper installation, and will add to your expenses, so make sure to allow for this in your budget.
And, while wood fences traditionally have an aesthetic appeal, they are also expensive to maintain. Between the weather, horses that either chew on the wood or run down the fence line, loose nails, broken boards from having been kicked, etc., you really need to stay on top of it, which can be a strain on your time and pocket book. One way to minimize the equine damage is to add corresponding strands of electric tape, wire or rope alongside each rail or board. Although time consuming to set up, one good zap on the nose and they are usually left alone, which makes it worthwhile in the long run.