In general, the basic types of fencing have not changed in recent years. There are the standbys—wood, mesh, electric, wire, vinyl, and pipe, and updates have mostly come in the form of safety and maintenance improvements. However, there are a few new products on the market and we went to manufacturers to get their descriptions.
Except in a few cases, fence posts are typically set 8 to 10 feet apart. The fence is usually 54 to 60 inches high and posts are set at least 36 inches below ground for stability. Proper installation is key for any fence and safety of the horses is paramount. For small farms, aesthetics may be more of a factor, and the options are extensive. However, when you get to the big farms and ranches that face installing literally miles of fence, looks may be important, but cost becomes a big issue.
Vinyl fence is one choice on the market, especially for perimeter fence. Made from extruded rigid polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the quality and materials have improved over the years to be more durable in outdoor situations. For example, Gardner Fence produces a vinyl fence with a weathering life up to 80 years. The fence is coated with chromium dioxide that protects the plasticizer from leaching out, which reduces the chance of splintering. Trevor Hins states that Gardner is introducing a black vinyl fence to the U.S. that has a lifetime warranty just like its other PVC fence. Typically available in 2, 3 and 4 rails, some PVC fence also comes with UV inhibitors to keep it from fading in the sunlight. There are also products available where the rails run through the posts instead of being attached to them.
Wood—or Not Wood
For those who want wood but don’t want the maintenance, there is polyethylene-coated wood, such as Palladium fencing from Ramm Fencing. The pressure-treated planks and posts are covered with polyethylene plastic that protects the wood and decreases the need for painting and replacing boards. It resists UV rays and temperature extremes and comes with a 20-year replacement warranty. These boards do not warp or rot and the coating can also decrease cribbing and chewing. It is also important to note that Palladium uses only environmentally safe treating chemicals in the wood cores. In addition, their cap system keeps chemicals from leaching into the ground, water or air. Palladium is more costly to install than plain wood, but requires much less maintenance in the long run.
From LifeTime Lumber comes a relatively new product that is gaining popularity in the equestrian market. LifeTime Lumber looks and is worked with like wood, but it is a wood alternative. “It is comprised of recycled fly ash, which is an inert waste product from electric utility plants—which is bound together with Baydur polyurethane composite from Bayer Material Science LLC.” For those looking to “go green” with their fencing, LifeTime Lumber products “conform to the recycled content criteria under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.” The product was originally designed for residential and commercial fencing and decks, but according to Liz Boelter, its professional look, safety and lack of maintenance have made it a popular choice for horse people. Like coated wood, LifeTime Lumber doesn’t need repainting, nor will it warp or rot.
Coated Wire Fencing
Wire fence is extremely economical, but hazardous to horses, which are notorious for finding ways to injure themselves. To keep its reasonable price but increase the safety and strength, companies such as Centaur HTP Fencing Systems have coated high-tensile wire with solid polymer or vinyl. Centaur HTP has “rails” where the top wire can be electrified. Their rails come in 5-inch, 4-inch, 1-inch and single strands and is a type of fence that can last a long time. The continuous loop and brackets allow the fence to absorb and displace shock better than rigid, individual rails. Like most of the newer fencing innovations, Centaur HTP does not warp, rot, splinter, rust or stretch. It also comes with a 20-year limited warranty.
Another option is Ramm Fence’s Flex-Fence, which is one of its most popular equine products. The high-tensile wire is bonded to polyethylene plastic, which makes it a very strong fence. If a horse, tree, etc. hits the fence it flexes up to 6 inches and then bounces back into shape. With a UV guard, it won’t splinter or warp and doesn’t need painting.
Another safe type of wire fencing is woven wire. This type of fence has not changed much over the years and still provides a safe, sturdy and strong fence. Red Brand has two different types, the Square Deal 2”x4” rectangular steel mesh and the Keepsafe 2”x4” diamond-mesh. Both are excellent for keeping hooves from getting caught while protecting horses from predatory animals (and people looking to climb over a fence). Woven wire fence “offers rigid yet flexible construction that makes it ideal for installation over rolling meadows or hilly terrain.” For best results the fence needs to be properly stretched so unless you are experienced at installing fence it is best to have woven wire professionally installed. To increase its longevity and add a visual barrier, often a top board is installed. For options on that, see the adapter assembly from Equi-Tee Farm & Fence below.
Pipe fence is a popular choice for ranches in the west where miles of fencing needs to be installed. While 100-percent steel fence is very unforgiving if a horse hits it, it is obviously very strong and sturdy. 440 Fence Company has a galvanized and powder coated steel pipe fence that will not rust and doesn’t require welding or painting like older versions of pipe fence. The three layers of protection are zinc, conversion coating and clear polymer. It is easy to install, and 440 Fence states that you can put in up to 500 feet per day. They also tell a personal tale of the fence’s strength on their website. Dr. Barry Hardin of Beaumont, Texas, writes, “My four-rail fence was to be completed the day Hurricane Rita came ashore. The western eyewall of the storm passed directly over our area with sustained winds clocked at 105 to 115 mph. . . Several of the trees landed directly on the fence. . .The fence sustained minimal damage to only the sections taking direct hits from the fallen trees! This product withstood the third strongest Atlantic Hurricane in recorded history!”
Electric fencing is an economical choice and can be used along or in combination with other types of fence. It is an excellent deterrent for horses that chew or crib. The newest option in electric fencing involves surrounding the electric wire with another product to increase its strength, safety and visibility while still keeping the costs down. Electrobraid, which was created especially for horses, is a popular choice for a permanent electric fence. It features easy installation, low maintenance and the ability to absorb energy when an object (or horse) hits it. Copper wire conductors are braided into the high-grade polyester fiber, which looks like braided yachting rope, making it a safer electric option.
Typically, a requirement of an electric fence is a grounding rod. However, HorseGuard electric fence now has a bi-polar fence tape. Designed by a horse breeder, this is an electric system that works without a ground rod and even in frozen or dry ground. The tape’s open weave construction allows air to flow through and decreases movement in high winds. It can be used as a permanent fence, but also in a temporary situation or along with a solid fence.
From Equi-Tee Farm and Fence comes an adapter assembly that helps put together wire mesh, T-posts and a vinyl sight rail to make a safe, sturdy pasture fence. The 6-piece adapter combines the wire mesh with the vinyl top rail and covers the exposed T-post for safety. It is moderately priced and allows for the combination of two excellent types of fencing.
FORE MORE INFORMATION
Centaur HTP Fencing Systems – www.centaurhtp.com or 1-800-348-7787
ElectroBraid Fencing – www.electrobraid.com or 1-888-430-3330
Equi-Tee Farm & Fence – www.fencingsolutions.com or 1-888-253-6245
440 Fence Company, Inc. – www.440fence.com or 1-800-440-5889
Gardner Fence – www.gardnerfence.com or 1-800-788-3461
HorseGuard Fence – www.horseguard.net or 1-888-773-3623
Keystone Fence Supplies – www.keystonefencesupplies.com or 1-866-453-9336
LifeTime Lumber – www.ltlumber.com or 1-760-634-6860
Palladium – www.palladiumwoodproducts.com or 1-866-PALLADIUM
Premier 1 Supplies – www.premier1supplies.com or 1-800-282-6631
Ramm Fencing – www.rammfence.com or 1-800-434-8456