CHOOSE THE RIGHT FENCE

Whether you’re putting in a new fence or ren­o­vat­ing an old one, you’ll find many op­tions avail­able. Here are some tips for es­tab­lish­ing your pri­or­i­ties and set­ting your bud­get. By Heather Smith Thomas

EQUUS - - Eq Inbrief -

hat type of fenc­ing is best for horses?

Pose that ques­tion to own­ers in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, and you’re likely to get a va­ri­ety of an­swers---some de­liv­ered quite ve­he­mently. “Peo­ple of­ten be­come emo­tional about fences,” says Marti Day, of the North Carolina Co­op­er­a­tive Ex­ten­sion at North Carolina State Univer­sity. “Some think wire fence is evil and that you must have board fence for horses.” Oth­ers might in­sist just as firmly that wire is the only vi­able op­tion for their own prop­er­ties. But the cor­rect an­swer, re­ally, is, “It de­pends.” “There are many good fences, and dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions can make them good or bad,” says Day. “You can’t make a blan­ket state­ment as to what is a good fence and have it cover all the pos­si­bil­i­ties.” What’s “best” for one herd on one farm may not work at all for some­one else in a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion. On smaller farms sur­rounded by busy roads or de­vel­op­ment, just keep­ing the horses in might be the high­est con­cern. Whereas on larger ranches that need miles of fenc­ing in re­mote ar­eas, cost, main­te­nance and longevity might be more im­por­tant.

What­ever the cir­cum­stances, fenc­ing has one ba­sic job: “A fence should be able to keep the horses on your side of the prop­erty line,” says Bob Cole­man, PhD, state ex­ten­sion spe­cial­ist at the Univer­sity of Ken­tucky. “Also, you might want to re­strict ac­cess to your horses, by keep­ing out neigh­bor­hood dogs, preda­tors or small chil­dren.”

To ac­com­plish that goal safely, good fenc­ing needs to present both a phys­i­cal bar­rier---which is strong enough to con­tain a horse who runs into it or who ap­plies pres­sure by lean­ing or reach­ing through it---and a psy­cho­log­i­cal bar­rier, so the horses can see it, al­ways know it’s there and not con­tin­u­ally test its lim­its. But good fenc­ing must also strike a bal­ance---if it’s too “strong” it may en­trap or in­jure horses. Too weak, and it may al­low horses to es­cape.

Whether you’re ren­o­vat­ing an ex­ist­ing farm or build­ing from scratch, you’ll first want to con­sider sev­eral fac­tors to help you de­cide which type of fenc­ing is best for you. Then, you’ll be pre­pared to an­a­lyze the many choices of ma­te­rial and make the best de­ci­sion for your prop­erty. We’ll help you get started.

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