Choosing the right fencing for horses is important for their safety and well-being. Although mesh wire fencing is widely seen as the best and safest option, it’s essential to recognise that other alternatives might be more fitting for your own horse’s needs.
The decision-making process when it comes to choosing the perfect fencing is influenced by several factors, from the horse’s temperament to the property’s terrain. Here’s a guide on the ins and outs of horse fencing, so that horse owners can make informed choices that can help their horses’ security and comfort.
Top 5 Fences for Horses
1. Best for Cost-Effectiveness – Wire Fencing
Wire fencing, particularly woven wire, is one of my favourite choices because of its affordability. This low price point is why it’s considered by many other horse owners to be the best horse fencing. It’s designed to keep horses safely contained while also being effective at deterring other animals.
In terms of maintenance, regular checks are needed to ensure the wire fence line remains intact. Combining wire fencing with electrified tape or a top board can reduce wear and tear. Just keep in mind that periodic tightening of the wire will likely be needed, especially if your horses lean or push against the fence.
If you’re considering this option, resist the urge to line it with barbed wire; just use smooth wire. Barbed wire often does more harm than good when it comes to protecting horses, and you’re just asking for bits of mane and tail to be ripped out.
- Cost-effective – wire fencing is a go-to for many
- Can be combined with a top board or electrified tape for increased visibility
- Versatile with options like smooth wire, woven wire, and high tensile wire
- Smooth wire fences can be challenging for horses to see
- Without enhancements, horses might lean on the fence
- Not as durable as some other fencing options
2. Best for Rustic Aesthetic – Wooden Fencing
Wooden fencing, often seen in the form of wood board fences, can give your pasture a timeless look, which is why it’s one of the most aesthetically appealing types of fences. It’s a traditional choice that provides both visibility and a solid barrier for horses.
However, regular inspections are needed to check for signs of wear, rot, or damage, especially if you live in an area that experiences lots of rain. Wood treatments, like painting or staining, can extend the lifespan of board fencing. Replacing damaged boards and ensuring the fence remains free from horse-related damages (mine loves to scratch on the posts) will keep wood fencing in top condition.
- Offers a natural, aesthetically pleasing look to any property
- Sturdy and provides a clear physical barrier
- Wood fences can be painted or stained to match property aesthetics
- Susceptible to weathering and might require frequent treatments
- Horses might chew or scratch on the wood, leading to damage
- Can be more expensive in terms of installation and maintenance compared to other horse fencing options
3. Best for Contemporary Look – PVC Fencing
PVC fencing offers a sleek and contemporary look, usually copying the appearance of traditional wood fences without carrying over the same maintenance requirements. It’s made from durable plastic and is designed to withstand various weather conditions without fading or warping.
One of the main advantages of PVC fencing is its low maintenance. Regular cleaning with a mild detergent can keep it looking new. However, it’s still important to inspect it regularly for any cracks or damages, especially after strong weather conditions, to ensure the safety of the horses – especially the escape artists!
- Highly aesthetic, adding a polished look to properties
- Resistant to elements, ensuring it doesn’t rot or rust
- Doesn’t require painting or staining
- Can be more expensive than other fencing options
- Designed to break under significant pressure, which might pose safety concerns
- Horses might learn it gives way when leaned on, potentially compromising its effectiveness
4. Best for Deterring Leaning – Electric Fencing
Electric fencing serves more as a psychological barrier than a physical one. Through a mild shock delivered by the electrified fence (well, mild by horses’ standards), horses learn to respect and stay away from the boundary. It can be made from electric wire or tape, ensuring horses and other animals keep their distance.
The maintenance requirements for this fencing are quite similar to that of wire fences. Regularly inspect the electric wire or tape for any breaks or wear. Ensure the power source, whether a battery or mains connection, is consistently delivering the right amount of charge – no more, no less. Grounding rods and connections should be checked periodically to maintain the fence’s effectiveness.
- Effective deterrent against horses leaning or trying to breach the boundary
- Cost-effective and relatively easy to install
- Can be combined with other fencing types to enhance longevity
- Not a solid physical barrier on its own
- Requires a consistent power source, which might be a challenge in some areas
- Regular checks are needed to ensure the fence remains electrified
5.Best for Challenging Terrain – Pipe Fencing
Pipe fencing, typically crafted from wood, steel, or aluminium, is a solid and long-lasting horse fencing solution. Because it’s so rigid, it stands firm against pressure, making it a popular fencing material in many equestrian settings.
Pipe fencing requires very little in terms of upkeep. Just remember to inspect it regularly for any signs of rust if it’s made out of metal or water damage if it’s made out of wood. If painted, occasional touch-ups might be needed to maintain its appearance and prevent corrosion. With this wooden variety, you’ll likely find yourself having to join two half pieces together to create the pipes.
- Extremely durable and resistant to horse pressure
- Less susceptible to weathering compared to wood or wire fences
- Provides a clear and sturdy boundary, ensuring horses stay contained
- Lacks ‘give’ compared to other types of horse fencing, which means a horse running into it might get injured
- Can be more expensive in terms of installation and materials
- Might feel less natural compared to wood or mesh fences
Qualities Of The Best Horse Fencing
The ideal horse fencing will always have a good balance of functionality and aesthetics. Top-tier horse fencing prioritises visibility, ensuring horses can clearly see the barriers, which then reduces injury risks.
The material’s resilience is very important. It should be able to withstand the elements and the force exerted by powerful horses.
Maintenance should be straightforward. High-quality fences are always low upkeep and remain durable over time.
The fence’s height is another crucial element, as it should deter even the most athletic horses from jumping over. The fence should complement the property’s style while ensuring safety. Lastly, always consider warranties, that way you’ll know that your investment is protected against unforeseen issues.
How To Choose A Horse Fence
- Needs: When selecting the ideal fence for your equine companions, start by assessing your needs. The number of horses, their temperament, and the size of the pasture or area all need to be considered. A spirited stallion might require sturdier fencing than a docile mare, and large pasture fences may have different needs than smaller paddocks.
- Safety features: Safety first should be your mantra. Prioritise fence materials that offer protection and avoid potentially harmful ones like barbed wire, which can cause severe injuries. Fence openings should be designed to prevent horses from getting trapped or injured.
- Budget: Your budget will significantly influence your choice. Although everyone wants the best for their horses, it’s important to strike a balance between cost and quality. Some expensive fences offer top-notch safety, but there are affordable options that don’t skimp on protection.
- Maintenance: Maintenance is another crucial factor. Go for low-maintenance solutions that stand the test of time. That way, you’ll get longevity without having to constantly make repairs or replacements.
- Aesthetics: The aesthetic appeal of a fence can’t be ignored. A fence can boost the overall appearance of your property. Whether you prefer the rustic charm of wood or the sleek look of mesh wire, choose a style that aligns with your property’s character.
- Local climate: The climate in your area plays a big role too. Some fence materials might not withstand extreme weather conditions, so it’s important to choose materials suited to your region’s climate.
- Consult experts: Always consult experts. Their insights can guide you to make the best decision for your individual needs.
Are electric fences safe for horses?
When properly installed and maintained, electric fencing is safe for horses. They inevitably end up serving as more of a physiological rather than a physical one. However, it’s still important to ensure that the fence is highly visible and checked regularly. When horses recognise the fence’s presence and its mild shock, they generally avoid it, ensuring their safety.
Is the visibility of a fence important for horses?
Yes. Visibility is a key component of horse fencing. Because horses are flight animals, they can panic and run into fences they can’t see clearly. High-visibility fences can significantly reduce the risk of injury. Whether it’s mesh wire, wood, or electric fencing, the fence should be easily seen to help prevent accidents and ensure the horse’s safety.
Can I use different types of fences on my property?
Mixing fence types is completely fine. However, it’s important to ensure that the transition between different fencing materials is smooth and safe for the horses. It’s possible to combine aesthetics with functionality, but always prioritise the safety and well-being of your horses when integrating various fencing options on your property.
How high should a fence be to safely contain horses?
A fence should ideally be between 4.5 and 6 feet tall to safely contain most horses. At this height range, even the more athletic breeds are put off jumping over. Still, it’s important to consider a horse’s breed and temperament when deciding on fence height.
How often should horse fences be inspected or maintained?
Regular inspection of horse fences is key. A monthly check should generally be enough but after extreme weather events, immediate inspection may be required. How often you maintain your fence depends on the fencing material. For example, wood might require more upkeep than mesh wire.