Protecting Wood Fencing from Chewing Horses

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Credit: Thinkstock Chewing fences is a bad habit for horses, and causes major maintenance headaches.

Credit: Thinkstock Chewing fences is a bad habit for horses, and causes major maintenance headaches.

Many horses chew wood fencing, especially when confined in small areas. They can destroy a fence very quickly with this bad habit.Some owners apply foul-tasting coatings to try to deter chewing, but there are horses that chew wood no matter what you put on it.Some of the things people try (like old motor oil) are toxic, so if you want to use a paint-on or applied chemical chewing deterrent, use one that is approved for horse areas.

There is a better, safer way to protect wood fences is to cover the posts, poles or boards--cover them with small-mesh chicken wire.Horses can’t chew through it, and it’s unpleasant on their teeth so they quit trying to chew the wood beneath it.

For instance, a wire fence with a top pole or board can be readily protected by covering that top pole or board with chicken wire, cutting it into strips the proper size with tin snips.It can be stapled to the pole or board at frequent intervals so there are no loose patches or protrusions—just a smooth surface that the horse can’t grab hold of.Use staples that are large enough to hold securely and never pull out.When rolling the strips along the pole/board/post, all cut edges should be tucked under, making sure no loose edges stick out that a horse could pull at or poke himself.

Even with the chicken wire in place, a non-toxic wood preservative can be applied to the wooden poles, posts or boards periodically, and the wood fence will last a long time.

Chicken wire protection is very cheap compared to replacing chewed-up boards, posts or poles.A roll of it will cover a lot of fencing when cut into proper-size strips,Staples will be another expense, as will your time.But when you weigh these costs against having to repair or rebuild the fence, it’s obvious that the chicken wire is cheap insurance—giving a much longer life to your wooden fence.