Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fenced In

I was sitting in the car a few weeks ago during a fall harvest tour, and I happened to look over at a pasture next to me. There were no animals in it, but I focused on the fence. Some thoughts went through my head and I grabbed my camera and started taking a few pictures.

This particular fencing was hog wire lined with barbed wire, and possibly, a strand of electric wire. I was imagining a horse getting his leg caught in big squares of the hog wire and then as it struggled, being torn apart by the barbed wire. Yes, I have a bit of an overactive imagination.

My Boy's fencing at the Painted Creek is hog wire (the narrower rectangles, not the large squares) with electric wire on the top. He is very respectful of fencing, and even thinks there is hot wire on the parts there isn't. We've had almost no problems with this wire in terms of safety except one- My Boy injured himself recently when he bucked near the fence. He came down on the hog wire part of it with his leg, scraping up his inner hock. Had the wire been barbed, I can only imagine the damage that could have occurred.

The only downfall to this fencing is that without a rail or electric wire on top, it is very easy for a horse to lean it's head and neck over it and bend the wire. I won't mention any names, but a black and white paint mare whose name begins with an "F" has been known to bend a few fences in her life in search for the "grass that is always greener."
So no, our fencing isn't perfect for horses, but I would take it over barbed wire any day.

Do you believe in a perfect type(or near perfect) fencing for horses? I've often heard people say that a horse can injure itself in or on any fencing. It seems to me this is true, but I also think you are lowering your odds of injury with some kinds of fencing over others.

What kind of fencing do you have, and if it's not your dream fencing, in a perfect world, what would be your ideal fencing be?

And can someone please clarify for me, is it "barb wire" or "barbed wire"? I have seen it written both ways.....


  1. Good question.. we have 3 rail wood, with the no climb smaller square hogwire on inside of it, to keep stray dogs out.It has 2 Strand electric to stop leaning on it as well.

    Along one side of the field we have new Zealand fence, and have never had a problem with it. It is electric. If a horse hits it, they "bounce" off it.

    The longer we have had it the more we like it. It never sags, and unlike the wood rails, doesnt need replacing due to age.

    As a general rule, my kids don't test the fences.. it is like they know this is their space, and do not seem to want to go elsewhere.

  2. As long as it isnt Bob-wire LOL it has Barbs, either of those work for me LOL

    I have three strands of electric wire, the top one being 1 1/2 tape, I love the visual factor of the fence tape. I used to have 17 gage wire, but had to step up to 12 gage, because the deer kept breaking it.

  3. oops I think I meant 14 gage not 17, that would be pretty light LOL

  4. {Jans Place}~ My family once looked at a potential place to buy that was fenced and cross-fenced w/New Zealand wire. I had never seen or heard of it before that. It was very taught- and thicker gauge, then regular electric wire. I was wondering about safety, but the "bounce factor" makes sense!

  5. I remember this moment of inspiration. What kind of fencing do you think would work best on a Man Cub?

  6. I'm pretty sure both barb and barbed are used interchangably.

    IMO there is NO perfect fence for horses. With any fence there is a chance of injury/accident. That said some types of fence are definately much safer than others.

  7. You know I was looking at an American-style magazine here last night with lots of that plastic type fencing which boasts that horses cannot hurt themselves on it. I think when a horse really tries, they can hurt themselves on pretty much anything.

    We have four-strand barbed wired fences here (yeah, we say 'barbed' no idea whether it is correct or not!) ... horses soon learn to respect it, but any foals or new horses are kept in yards for quite a while til they learn the rules.

    Padded walls might be the answer?

  8. Most of our place is heavy gauge woven 'field' fence or hog fencing with electric wire along the paddock part and 2 strands of tight barb wire on the top along the perimiter fence. Cost is a factor and we live in cattle country, cows will push thru most anything they think they can. Horses soon learn the boundaries. Yes barb wire can cut, I wouldnt be comfrotable for horses in a small area with multiple strands of barb fencing, but on the big acreages there is little option.

    In a perfect world heavy gague woven wire with 2 top strands of heavy barbless twist and electric wire to keep the horses off it all would be ideal. The entire fence needs to be built with heavy corner braces and frequent wood posts and pulled very tight.

    A ranch near us where cost is no concern has had welded steel fences put up, 4 2x6 rails welded to steel square posts, about 5 feet high. That would be an ideal fence.

  9. In my Horse Crazed Mind I sometimes day dream about how to construct the perfect horse fence. So far my best idea has been a heavy solid hedge of some non-toxic tree in front of a five foot high solid board fence... the problem with that is you'd have to be Bill Gates to afford it. I know a breeder that only has a few acres where he keeps his young horses and he uses chain link with a top and bottom wood rail plus a line of electric top and bottom. That fence seems really solid to me, no way a horse can hook or snag himself in the wire (because it is so tight and small) and the top and bottom rails with the electric keep them from leaning.

    I am a fan of having a top and bottom rail with a very small square (2 inches by 4) in between. I also like to see fences that are buried behind natural trees or bushes so long as they are still well maintained.

  10. Well the answer to your question is the original name for it was "barbed wire" but is is also known as "barb wire"... I use barbless wire and I kid you not I had a mare last summer slit her throat so bad it was a nightmare, she literally was thin skin over the main artery in her neck... I also had a 2 yr old filly peel her face of down to the bone, but not sure if that was the wire or a panel?! Just goes to show that yes they can hurt themselves on anything and we all prefer different types that fit our needs... Like hot wire, I don't use it. mainly because I don't like it, for some reason it gives me the eebie jeebies LOL!! And my horses do stretch their heads through the fence from time to time.. Great post!!

  11. I hold the widely-held opinion that horses spend their entire lives looking for a place to die. My Jaz is the poster child for this way of thinking.

    Most of our fence is pipe and cable with the narrower hog wire mesh. The fence between us and our back neighbor, which he put up, is T-posts and barbed wire. I don't like it, but I don't have the resources to run another fence line inside it either. Both horses have a healthy respect for that fence.

  12. We've got 4-board wooden fences on the exterior and some on the interior, and use 2-strand electric to divide up interior grazing areas. Wood isn't ideal - it's fairly safe but very expensive to maintain. We've looked into other types - I'm intrigued by the electric tape that looks like board/vinyl fencing - 4" or so in thickness, and requires reinforced corner posts. It's more suitable for flat acreage than rolling. We've thought about using that for exterior fencing - would be much cheaper to maintain. I've seen horrific injuries to horses kept in barbed wire, so would avoid that at all costs. I like your small-squares wire with board/electric on top.

  13. We have 4 strands of covered wire. The top wire is hot. Originally, the 2nd wire was hot too, but that didn't work because we kept getting shocked when we slid into the pastures or hooked the gates! Our wire is electric from a solar panel. I love our fencing. Of course, my mental picture of a horse farm is with miles and miles of white 4 board fencing. That is a ton of work, though, to paint and replace as needed. I guess you have that when you have a "staff" of maintenance people, which I don't have!!!

  14. Mostly I've used 4 or 3 board wooden fencing and haven't had too many problems. We also had the wrapped wire at one point, but that was kind of a pain because it always sagged and had to be tightened a lot. No injuries on it though. A lot of people around here use the small mesh wire with a top board. I'd probably try that if I were going to fence a pasture today.

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  17. IMO a horse can get hurt on any fence. One of the worst scars any of our horses have is a gap between the neck and shoulder blade I can stick my fist in, from a wooden board fence (she came to us that way). We have a little of everything and none of it is perfect. I like barbless twisted but tightening is a bit of a pain. We also had a yearling panic and crash into it and crush her trachea. Tape doesn't hold up in our area due to the winter snow and ice and wind combo. A friend of ours has a horse with nasty scars on his front leg from a PVC fence he slid into during frigid weather - it shattered. So we are still seeking the perfect solution.

  18. The safest fence in the world is HorseGuard fence. They can run through it, stick a leg through it, whatever, and it doesn't hurt them. I've seen horses impaled on broken board fences and cut on wire fences (smooth wire is more dangerous than barb wire) but I can't imagine how they could hurt themselves on this fence. I've had it 5 years now and I've had to fix broken insulators and re-tension the tape when they've stretched it out after being caught in it, but never had a hurt horse. You do have to keep it hot.

    The next best thing, I'd imagine, would be woven wire non-climb or diamond mesh fence. It can sag though, and a horse could get a hoof caught under it.

    Oh, and if you have lots of money to put into it, metal pipe fencing. Not panels with gaps between where a leg can get caught, but the stuff that's installed and welded at your place. That would be my dream fence.

  19. We too are in cattle country, so every fence on the place was either 4 or 5 strand barbed wire. In areas that most of the horses are, we've removed the barbed wire and replaced with hog fencing with a top and middle strand of hot wire. One fence line along our driveway is still barbed wire, but we put up hot wire to keep the horses away from it. Like mentioned by Cowgirl Rae, the cattle will just push right through anything else.

    The problem with my hot wire is that the deer rip it up on a regular basis and the wind blows so strong that it wraps up in the ongoing struggle.

    I don't think there is such a thing as the "perfect fence."

  20. I prefer electric fencing. They respect it. Theres no leaning through it or over it. Though we did have a mare get tangled in it once. She was young, rolled right near the fence and flipped over. For this reason when I pick rocks up I pile them near the fences edge so a horse is less likely to walk really close to a fence to roll. Seems to work. Also works with throwing the rocks around water tubs that horses like to try and shove over. My perfect fencing would be white PVC because it's maintenance free (minus if a horse somehow crashes through it) with two strands of electric fencing on the inside to discourage leaning through it. Though it totally depends on where the paddock is. I would much rather prefer 5 strands of electric near a road.

  21. I agree with Sydney, the PVC is a great solution as far as maintenance. We have an arbor on our patio that is PVC and has steel inside and is so strong that I can walk and jump on it. It won't fracture from the cold.
    That being said, it is very expensive and we aren't using it at our farm/ranch...

    I have an opposite problem: I am fencing OUT the animals from my garlic.

    We no longer have horses at the ranch and the oil wells no longer produce. But we do have some pipe left from the wells. So, to protect my garlic from stray cattle and FERAL HOGS, I am this week installing a metal pipe fence around the garden areas with netting and barbed wire. If we do get some horses in the future, I will use some of the suggestions above to modify the fence to make it more horse friendly... electric sounds like a possibility.

    Thanks for all of your input on fencing and in return, here is my contribution:

    Garlic Man

  22. I have some rail fences and I have Barbed wire in places ,that said ,I have very large pastures and the barbed wire is perimeter only never in a pressure area . We have had some cut and nicks ,but overall not bad injuries. However FENCE MAINTENANCE IS KEY!! any kind of fence is safer if it is in good upright condition, not loose or broken boards /wires . I thought hog wire would be good too or high tensile ,till I learned about "De gloving injuries"
    In a perfect world would I have a different setup? maybe.
    We are eventually replacing some fences with sucker rod and steel posts ,but like panels they can hurt themselves there . One of your posters commented "horses spend their lives looking for a place to die" I think she has it right

  23. I'm a big fan of electric--smoothe, high gauge so that it's thin enough to break if they get their leg caught on it, but enough to deliver a huge zap. Which is why I also believe in a super-duper charger--electric--the best you can buy so that you deliver some healthy respect. (and like others have said, maintenance it. Don't put the wires down too low where they paw either--keep it up past the pawing zone.)

    I use some tape right now which also breaks easily, but I've had other issues with it. I don't love it, and can't wait to replace it with wood/electric combo.

    Which, btw, is my idea of the perfect fence, and the one we're installing little by little, wood with electric run on the inside to keep them from leaning over it. We've installed quite a bit, but plan to finish the place off next year.

    Vinyl is pretty, but I've seen too many horses put their necks through and pop the boards out and then get free. Vinyl with electric would be great though, but as you know, vinyl is EXPENSIVE and we have way too much land to fence in to make that even slightly practical. Plus, I don't love the white color--it doesn't look natural enough for me. It is pretty though.

  24. In very cold. snowy areas electric has problems - snow, ice, and frozen ground do not conduct electricty well and make a conventional grounding system (with rods) useless. Grounding the fence charger to a non-hot strand that runs parallel to the hot strand sort of works, but only if the horse touches both strands at once without pushing the two strands into contact with each other.

    Pipe fencing is pretty unforgiving and can easily cause lower leg fractures.

  25. That fencing (and your sister's too) looks like what we have here, and when we had in installed it was sold as Horse fencing. There was no label caling it 'hog wire'. I though 'hog wire' had those big square openings, that a hoof could completely fit through. It looks a lot like cattle fencing, too.
    I bought some cattle fence panels to build an enclosure for our German Shepherd up in the pasture area recently.

    The horse fencing we have looks like the type your sister has except ours is 6' tall. Baby Doll can just barely rest her chin on the top of it, so we don't have to worry about her bending it. But I do still have the t-post covers on most of the posts because I worry that she'll scratch her face.

    I don't like barbed wire (wire that is barbed) because it is so dangerous, but I did lease pasture this summer on several hundred acres that had 4-string tightly-strung barbed wire. I think it's asking a lot of somoene with hundreds of acres to put up electric fencing or wood plank fencing because of the expense and heavy maintenance.

    I don't think any fence is 100% safe, though. Horses do crazy things sometimes.


  26. I agree with Leah Fry: horses seem to spend their lifetimes looking for ways to die--preferably horribly and at great expense.

    That said, we settled on "field fencing" (narrow squares at the bottom, wider on top) and three strands of electric. My mare RESPECTS electric fence, as long as it's hot...but for those dark days when the power goes out I need something less ephemeral.

    The mesh also keeps canines out of the fence--Fiddle hates all dogs, even my own Shelties, and would stomp them if they came close. So the fence keeps horses in and dogs out. A good arrangement for us.

  27. As Lisa says, I didn't know my fencing was called hog-wire. The label on the fence rolls says "No Climb Horse Fencing", because it is the 2x4 where they can't get a goof through the squares. I thought the hog-wire was the bigger squares which I would never use. I have never had a problem with Horse Fencing, except for when that trouble maker horse of mine, leaned over the area where there was no electric (no electric because we wanted an area we could pet them over the fence, without getting shocked) and when your boy bucked and came down on the fence.
    I also agree with everyone else, no fence is safe. Horses will hurt themselves on anything, anywhere!
    I would never use barbed wire, but I understand why ranches use it, especially with cows.
    My perfect fencing would be PVC board fencing with electric on top. It looks nice and will last forever. All that is needed, is some pressure washing from time to time.

  28. I'm impressed, no tempers on a very sensitive subject!!!
    I live in the midwest, and the farmer that owns the crop land around our place turns his cows and bulls out on the corn stalks every winter. Barbed wire is a must.

    I know, hotwire seems like a good option right? Well, aside from the weather conditions (heavy snow, ice, wind) we've also got DEER. And tons of them. They don't respect ANY fence, not even super charged hotwire. Trust me, we've tried. They tear it down every time.

    The best combo we could find was 4 strands of barbed wire with a hot wire to keep the horses away from it. My horses have never tried to lean over, but they have tried to stick their heads between the wire strands....hence the hot wire. Plus the ZAP keeps the calves from getting their itches on my fence!!!

  29. What a great entry, and I love your fence bokeh! I had a picket fence installed in my front yard, and it creates the nicest boundary for me. It's helped me turn boring, into cottage, and the garden just seems warmer and happier. Thanks for the inspiration! And the beautiful photos.

  30. great question. the vets can relay horror stories of horses getting severally injured with barbed wire fencing. we have 4 board (oak) with 6 inch pine 3/4 round posts. expensive yes, but the injuries will be lessened should there be any and i have no worries. my horses do not rub or chew as they are too busy gobbling grass. also it adds value to our real estate. easy to maintain. get the right paint and you will only have to paint every four years or so. black is far more popular than white as it doesn't show wear and tear and is cheaper. most racing/show farms in lexington have black fencing. we rented a commercial/industrial sprayer and it was cheap and easy. i get ideas from (when i can afford to)those who have really expensive horses (in lexington, ky) to see what they do. their money is important to them and they don't want their 'investments' ruined. my horses are more than investments to me -they are my babies so i do what i can to give them the safest of surroundings. if the farms do not have four board, they have 'diamond mesh no climb' with a board on top with 6 inch posts. gauge has to be low and very sturdy. not as pretty but critters cannot enter the paddocks and disturb the precious foals. we used some of that for perimeter fencing. hunters/trespassers don't tend cut thru since it is so intricate.

  31. Some people that live near us have a neat fence -- it is a sort of braided, round electric wire. It is pretty thick, so it doesn't look like it would cut a horse's leg as badly as the thinner guage stuff. But perhaps the best would be the 3 rail, flat board fencing...I don't know if any fencing is really safe -- seems like horses can get into stuff you can't imagine.
    Also, I think the correct word is "barbed" wire -- but people say "barb" wire. Just one of those usage things....

  32. My horse is in a pasture with a single line of electric wire as the fence on one side, and then a line of trees on the other, but with the wire there as well. I would never used barbed wire! Too dangerous! The nice thing about the electric wire is that if the herd starts to go crazy and one of them ends up busting through it, they don't get hurt. Instead, the wire just snaps. Living on a dirt road, with Bill around the farm 95% of the time, this is a safe option. My fave fencing however is the kind that is pretty to look at: the traditional white, wooden, three panel stuff that you see on fancy farms.

    A few times I have gotten zapped by the fence! It makes me feel weird and fried when that happens!

  33. PS Is 'hot' wire the same as 'electic' fence wire?? Just wondering...

  34. {BB}~ Yes, as far as I know hot wire and electric wire are the same. It means there is electricity running in it, and it will shock the animal (or human, for that matter! :) that touches it.

  35. Nice post - pictures of fences ..Keep Posting

    pictures of fences

  36. Hello,

    One day I was looking at my mom's blog,freckledfarm,and I saw your blog. It said Pony girl so I rushed over to it and I saw your gorgeous horse. I have been riding for a yr. and love it. You take beautiful photos.


  37. Oh the great horse fence debate....I say barb wire, but I think it can be barb or barbed? I am not sure. We have barb wire here at our place. But we just put in some creosote fencing for our babies. The fence guys say how horses will not touch that stuff and will stay off of it. Hahaha, you should see our silly babies with their heads sticking through the rails. But I think it's safer than barb wire. But Horse learn to respect what they are in. We have a stud that is in some crummy fencing, he stays in and never gets caught in it.

    But we did use to have some large square fencing and horses can tear themselves up on that stuff. It's nasty to see one get their leg caught in that stuff. I should send you pictures of what that can do to a leg! But if you have a horse, and you have any kind of fence, you will have accidents!!


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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