Keeping fences in good repair not only extends their life but also reduces risk of injury if horses have close encounters with their boundaries. A small and proper repair today may save a huge repair bill (and lots of labor!) tomorrow. There are times, however, when you encounter a fence problem that needs an instant fix. If you don’t repair it immediately, your horses might get out or become injured by the damaged fence.
Wildlife may have torn down your electric fence, or crashed a sturdy wood or wire fence.A herd of elk going through your place can knock a very respectable fence flat on the ground, breaking off posts.Or they may knock the top wires or poles off.Staples may be loosened or pulled out when wildlife habitually go over or through a fence, and you may find the wires saggy or completely off the posts.
In some situations your only choice is to prop up a knocked down section, tie poles back up with baling twine, lace a tree branch (or several!) into a hole as a temporary barrier, or pound staples back in with a rock until you can come back later in the day with tools (and materials) to fix it right.
If a wire fence is sagging and stretched and you have no tools/materials to fix it at that moment, you might be able to find (or break off) tree branches or pieces of dead sagebrush to lace in among the wires to tighten them up.An old trick for tightening up a stretch of loose wires between two posts is to lace several pieces of wood (such as willow branches or other small diameter tree parts) through the wires, alternating each piece as to which side of each wire it goes on.The wire bending around each piece of wood is soon very tight again; the lacing effect (like basket weaving) takes all the slack out of it.
At other times the damage might not be so drastic and you can do a small emergency fix. Loosened staples (on wire fence or netting) can be adequately pounded in with a rock; a board or pole knocked off can be put back on--especially if the nail has not been bent over or you can straighten it enough to aim it back into its same hole so you can pound it back in.Broken wires can be spliced and tightened.
A broken electric fence can be put back together (if you can temporarily turn off the “juice” by unhooking a nearby fence handle), a damaged insulator can be replaced or the wire hooked back to the post with baling twine (which acts as insulating material if the electric wire itself does not touch anything metal) until you can fix it right.
Make sure any "temporary" fence fixes are attended to on a permanent basis as soon as possible. Keeping horses in and safe is important, and maintaining your fences is part of that responsibility of horsekeeping.
Make a habit of looking at fences whenever you are near them and train yourself to notice the fence. Then take care of the little problems before they become big ones.