Thoughts on Fencing
I know I have mentioned more than once that I am not a huge fan of our miles of four board wood fencing. People are always so surprised when I say that so I thought I would explain my perspective. I love the look of wood fencing as much as the next person, I will definitely admit that. Nothing is more attractive to me than a horse farm with pretty green pastures surrounded by board fencing . . . kind of like where I live right now! Even in our large pastures though the wood fence always seems to be an accident looking for a place to happen with the horses. On top of that I also find the wood fencing to be extremely high maintenance.
We could cut down on some of the maintenance such as fence chewing and broken boards by running a strand of electric along the wood fence. However one of the caveats here that we have to work with is no electric fencing anywhere. Unfortunately we have to live with that restriction and no amount of griping is going to change it so I don’t dwell on it too much. However, even a strand of electric still won’t eliminate the problem. The confirmed cribbers and wood chewers learn quickly enough to just drop their head down to the next board where there isn’t an electric strand.
On the rare occasion that we have an injury here, almost 100% of the time it is related to the wood fence. A horse either rolls too close to the fence and gets a leg(s) through it or they stand by the fence and kick out at something or stomp at a fly and get a leg through it. It doesn’t matter if the fence is brand new, if a horse puts a leg or a hoof against a board with enough force or momentum it is going to break and splinter, period.
I do think it is very important to have a solid perimeter fence though. This doesn’t necessarily mean a wood fence but two strands of sagging electric probably aren’t the safest choice for a perimeter fence. On the same hand I would like to have more flexibility with cross fencing. Once you have permanent fencing in place, be it board fence or no-climb wire mesh fence, centaur fencing, or whatever it may be you have lost your ability to be flexible.
For example, if we have a spot come available in the mare field, the only horse that can take that spot is a mare, or possibly the right gelding. If we have a spot come available where the big boys live, the only horse that can take that spot is a gelding that can run with a younger crowd and play. Likewise, if a spot becomes available in the geezer gelding field well, you guessed it, a geezer gelding will need to take that spot. The pasture sizes are set and permanent and it takes away any flexibility. If the cross fencing were, for example, three or four strands of electric fencing (well done electric, not the previously mentioned sagging strands of electric) you could modify your pasture sizes and have a lot more flexibility in being able to accommodate different horses on the farm.
Interestingly when you look up the statistics on fencing in regards to horse safety and injuries, electric is the safest choice for horses. No climb wire mesh is next on the safety list (this should not be confused with ‘field fencing’ that is wire fence for cows). Board fencing ranks behind them for safety. The PVC fencing (the plasticy stuff that is supposed to sort of look like board fence) ranks even lower, I guess because it sometimes shatters on impact, especially in cold weather. We do have a couple of long cross fences that are the no climb wire mesh, and I have to say that the horses have yet to find a way to hurt themselves on it. I say yet because at some point one of them will manage it, no doubt!
I guess my dream farm would have a solid perimeter fence of either board fence with a strand or two of electric, no climb wire fence, Centaur fencing, or something along those lines. The cross fencing would be some version of nicely done electric to allow for flexibility and variations in pasture sizes. Now that I’ve said that I will probably wind up with miles of board fencing until the day I die. I guess there are worse fates in life than that!
Thomas strolling through the pasture looking very happy
Lucky and Slinky grazing with a lovely wood fence behind them