The Latest in Fencing

New materials make fencing options more durable and safer than ever before.

Fences are the leading cause of injury to horses. We all know the dangers of barbed-wire, but even some of the other common options have design problems that can put horses at risk. Many wire options that are safe for other livestock species are not safe for horses that might paw the fence.

But some wire options, made specifically for horses, can be an affordable and a safe option. Red Brand field fence is an excellent livestock fence that keeps predators out, and is safe for horses since they cannot get a foot through the small-size mesh. This durable galvanized non-climb netting has 2-inch by 4-inch spacing and comes in 48- or 60-inch height. The smooth side should always be put next to the horses, with the mesh knots on the outside. This durable netting has some flex and give if a horse hits it, and prevents injury to the horses. Red Brand also offers the V-Mesh option for younger horses with smaller hooves.

Wood has also been the traditional “safe” fence for horses but has several drawbacks. These include cost, maintenance and safety issues such as splinters, nails working loose, boards splitting if a horse hits them, etc. Some of the newer materials are actually safer and last longer.

Debbie Disbrow, who started RAMM Horse Stalls and Fencing, began carrying safer fencing materials for horses more than 20 years ago after having a personal tragic experience with horse injuries. “Horse owners should select something made for horses, not a type of fence that’s just for residential property. Most of the residential fencing lacks the strength, durability and longevity needed for horses,” says Disbrow.

“Even the popular PVC fences were first marketed for residential fencing. If horses run into it, the rigid PVC fences may break. We always recommend using electric fence along with it,” Disbrow says.

Ramm Fence recently started a product line called High Impact—a flexible material made with a combination of polymer and wire—with a lifetime warranty. This material comes in 4- or 5-inch-wide strips (providing good visibility) with 4,200 pounds break strength per rail.

This fencing is easy to install once the posts are set. “I can tension the fence myself with the new easy tightening system, whereas in the past some fencing systems took at least 2 people to tighten them,” Disbrow explains.

Ramm Fence also carries other flexible systems and several popular electric fencing products—some of which are considered permanent fencing. Other types of electric fencing are temporary barriers, such as what you’d use for pasture dividers in a rotational grazing system.

“We carry several types of electric fences, from Pro-Tek tapes to rope fencing such as ElectroBraid, and our coated flexible fencing. We also carry several types of woven mesh (including the no-climb net wire) for people who need to keep out predators or have large and small livestock. If you have foals, however, you need something like V or Diamond mesh that they can’t put a foot through,” says Disbrow.

Woodstream, a distribution network that carries the new ElectroBraid product along with other products like Zareba, Fi-Shock, Red Snap’r, Blitzer and Rutland electric fence, tells their clients that ElectroBraid is now the number one electric horse fence in North America because of its durability, visibility and safety features. This polyester rope provides a physical barrier as well as a psychological (electric) barrier. It’s easier to see than traditional electric wires, and safer/stronger (and smoother/softer) than electric tapes. The polyester fiber is the same type used in seatbelts and cargo straps and is very strong and durable—unaffected by sunlight’s UV rays that tend to break down many other materials.

It delivers enough electric shock to deter horses, but not enough to harm a small child. It has some give, like the ropes in a boxing ring; a panicked horse will bounce off the rope strands rather than break them or be injured by them.

ElectroBraid comes with a 25-year warranty against weathering or breakage. The copper used in the rope develops an oxidized outer later that protects the wire portion from corrosion. The double helix construction of the copper wire allows some bending and stretching (without breaking) to ensure continued electrical conductivity.

The polyester rope maintains its tension over time, and doesn’t sag much when wet. Since the copper conductor is a minor portion of the rope’s surface area, vegetation growing up around it won’t short out the fence unless it is extremely wet. This fence therefore takes less time and maintenance; usually once a year is adequate for trimming foliage away from it.

Centaur HTP Fencing Systems created another innovative and horse-friendly type of fencing using a polymer blend for strong and flexible rails. Manufacturers say it won’t crack or splinter, and has some give if a horse hits it at speed. The soft polymer has no rough edges to injure a horse, and horses can’t chew it.

Centaur Fencing extended their warranty to 30 years on Centaur HTP and Hot-Rail 5-inch rails. The polymer is bonded to the wire, creating high strength and longevity. The brackets are a two-piece belt-loop system that allows the rails to slip through, dispersing any impact. The flexible design reduces risk for entanglement injury or legs caught.

It’s always wise to get advice on fencing options before you choose the materials for your horse fences. But newer materials have made the options far more interesting they last longer and need far less maintenance, freeing up the barn owner’s time for all of the other things that need attention!

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