Rotational grazing today is so much easier than it was in the past because you don’t have to put permanent divisions in your pastures. Temporary electric fencing can be put up and taken down quickly and easily, and the configuration of paddocks can be changed when you need to make them larger or smaller.
A person can set up an entire paddock system at the start of the grazing season, or just strip graze a pasture, moving the fence every few days to create a new strip for the horses to move into for grazing. The only requirement is to train your horses to the use of temporary fencing, especially if they are not already accustomed to an electric fence, and making it visible to the horses.
Bob Coleman, state Equine Extension Specialist at the University of Kentucky, said the great thing about portable fencing today is that there are so many good options.
“I’ve used the fiberglass posts that you pound in, and some horse owners like them because they look nice, but you need to wear gloves to handle them or you get tiny slivers in your hands,” he advised.
“I also like the bigger, step-in plastic posts," he continued. "Before you buy posts, look at what’s available and what might work best for you. Talk to the people at the farm supply store or extension people and get their advice. Even if they’ve only done it for cattle and not horses, they can give good advice.”
There are some really good step-in posts, and many kinds of electric “wire” that are easy to work with.
“I like the tapes and the rope," said Coleman of electric fence types. "There are many alternatives. Read up on them and handle the material to see what will work best for you. The way you put it together becomes critical (to make sure it carries a charge in the places you hook up), so find out how to do that. I like the braided rope because it’s very easy to handle as well as highly visible for the horses.”
Portable fencing and portable water systems are great for subdividing horse pastures because you can move them as needed. If you move to a new farm or rent pasture somewhere else, you can take the portable fencing and water with you and set everything up again at another location.
For electric fences, decide what you’ll use as a fence charger—whether solar powered, battery powered or plugged into an electrical source.
Make sure the fence has a good charge and that the horses have the opportunity to learn about it in the daylight. Very seldom will horses try and electric fence more than once! Most horses never question the fence once they’ve been shocked, but a few keep testing it and seem to know if it’s not working. Some horses are so greedy that they’ll walk through it if the grass is greener on the other side.
Horses get used to the routine of rotations and are easy to move to the next paddock. They see you moving the salt block or the water, and they will be waiting for you to open the gate.