Horse ownership isn’t just about riding and grooming. Your horse needs a safe and secure place to live that will keep them happy, healthy and thriving.
How you contain your horses and care for their needs will vary. For example, if you own or board many horses, you’ll need larger pastures and properly organized layouts to minimize the risks. If you’re expecting foals, your pastures will need to be ready to provide them with a safe space to grow, play and explore.
Your fencing is an essential part of your pastures and will need to be checked regularly and have any issues managed as soon as they arise.
There are a variety of fencing options, each with its own unique benefits and concerns.
4 Signs Your Horse Farm Fencing Needs to Be Replaced
While some fencing options require less maintenance than others, you should make time in your schedule to regularly check the entire perimeter of your fence. Make a note of any changes you see and repair any damage right away for the safety and security of your horses.
Here are some signs that your fencing will need to be repaired or replaced.
1. Wood Rot
Your fence is exposed to harsh weather all year, like rain and snow. Over time, this exposure will begin to deteriorate the wood of your fence railings and posts. This can make your wood brittle, causing it to split or splinter.
When wood begins to rot, it can attract bugs and insects that will cause even more damage as they eat away at the soft spots. This can create increased weak spots in your fence, risking your horse breaking the railings and getting out of its enclosure.
Not only does rotten or damaged wood put you at risk for a runaway horse, but it can also hurt them if they push against it and break the railings. This can cause sharp sections of broken, splintering fencing that can cut your horse.
2. Leaning Fencing
Fences can begin leaning to one side over time which can become a problem quickly.
This occurs for various reasons, such as changes in seasons, exposure to excess rain that weakens the ground around the posts, or simply from your horse pushing against the fence.
When you notice your fence has begun to lean to one side, you can choose to replace the sections that have been damaged. However, if it’s more than just a few areas, you may want to consider replacing your entire fence at one time.
This will help minimize maintenance costs and the amount of time you’ll spend repairing the continued damage over time.
If your fence is leaning because your horses are pushing over the top to graze on bushes nearby, consider adding a string of electric fence above the top railing. This will help deter your horses from continuing to put pressure on the fence and will help decrease your repair costs in the future.
3. Weakened Wire Fencing
You may not have hardwood fencing on your property and instead have chosen to go with coated wire fencing or an electric fence. These types of fences are under constant pressure, making them more susceptible to weakening over time as they slowly stretch out.
Sagging or weakened wire fencing can be a safety hazard for your horse. If the wire becomes too loose, your horse may get tangled in it, especially if it’s the lower sections that have become damaged.
Additionally, loose electric fencing can change the strength of the current of voltage it produces, so checking it often is essential.
4. Damaged Lower Railings
The lower railings of your fencing experience more wear and tear than most of the fence. This is because horses will often kick the bottom rungs or push them with their hooves. Over time, this weakens the boards, making it easier for them to break.
If the bottom railings break, your horse could be seriously injured, cutting its legs and risking infection if it’s not caught in time. This also creates a risk for your horses to get tangled in the broken sections of the railing, causing them to get stuck or trip on them.
The lower boards are especially important if you have foals in your pasture. Without proper railings at the bottom of your fence, your foals could get caught underneath them or roll under them while they play.
How To Choose the Right Fencing For Your Horse Farm
Every farm is different, and the type of fencing you choose will depend on various aspects, such as your horses’ needs and your property size and style.
Before you decide on your next fencing, here are a few things you should consider.
The Dynamics of Your Herd
The type of fencing that would be best for your horse farm is largely determined by the dynamics of your herd.
If your horses are older or have become accustomed to being in a pasture and are fairly docile, you’ll be able to choose a more flexible fencing solution, like coated wire.
If you plan on breeding and having foals in your pastures, you’ll need a fence with sections that are low enough that they can’t get under or tangled in it. This fencing will also need to be strong enough to withstand any damage that may be caused by their playfulness.
You may also want to include a paddock for training in this case. This paddock can be attached to your main pasture for easy use or a separate area, creating a safe, distraction-free space for you to build trust and train.
Another factor that will affect the dynamics of your farm will be any plans for expansion or boarding.
If new horses are being added to your herd, you’ll need a more durable fence. When horses are moved to a new space, they will naturally explore and test the boundaries, which will include pushing on fences.
All farm properties are different, and your pastures may have certain aspects that will determine the fencing you decide to use.
If your pasture is prone to a buildup of mud or pockets of water that could cause light flooding in areas of your field, you’ll want to use a fence with deep-set posts to keep your fence standing strong through the environmental changes. You’ll also want to choose fencing that requires less maintenance, such as vinyl fencing. This will give you the flexibility to check and maintain your fencing when the weather best allows it.
If you find your horses have excessively trampled their pasture, and the grass is thinning or simply isn’t growing well anymore, you may want to consider expanding your pasture.
Try including gated sections for you to move your horses from one area to another. This can give your pastures time to recover and maintain the lush grass for your horses to graze on for years to come.
If you choose to include sections, you’ll want to remember that each one needs to be sized appropriately to fit your horses comfortably, avoiding crowding and allowing them space to play and entertain themselves.
Sections also allow you some flexibility with the type of fencing you use within the inner area because if your horse pushes through them, they won’t get out of the main pasture and will still be maintained.
For the inner fences, you can use coated wire fencing to separate the sections, minimizing costs if you’re on a budget.
Fencing Visibility and Safety
Horses are animals that love to play and run and can often bump into the fence as they do.
When you’re choosing your fence, make sure that it can be seen easily by your horses, especially if you have young horses that still have an abundance of energy.
This may help to minimize the amount of damage your fences will experience and the risk of your horses hurting themselves by running into a fence they don’t see.
If you use hardwood fencing, make sure to put the railings inside the pasture. This will keep your horses safe, especially if they like to run alongside the fence. If the railings are outside the fence, you’ll risk your horses hurting themselves by running into the exposed side of the poles.
If you live in an area with natural predators, you may want to consider adding wire mesh fencing around the perimeter of your pasture. You can do this for the entire height of your fence or exclusively add it to the bottom sections of your fence. This will keep other animals out and protect your horses.
Your budget will have a significant influence on the fencing you choose. Fencing can become expensive, and each style comes with its own unique price tag, with your pasture size influencing this price even further.
If you’re expanding your pasture and your existing fence is in good condition, consider adding to it instead of completely replacing it. Before making this decision, complete a thorough fence inspection to ensure your current fencing is in good condition and won’t need replacement anytime soon. Sometimes, replacing your fencing and expanding your pasture simultaneously is easier, saving you money over time by making your fence updates fewer and farther between.
Your Farm’s Style
If aesthetics are important to you, and you’re working towards upgrading your property, finding fencing that fits within that aesthetic while also meeting your horses’ needs will be important.
This may become even more important if you’re planning on offering boarding services in the future. Creating a pasture with a high-end look can help attract more exclusive clientele and may be worth the investment.
In some cases, your existing fence may be able to be painted to meet your desired look. The right paint can even make your fencing withstand the weather better as well, adding a protective barrier.
If you’re looking for a new type of fence entirely, consider your style and the needs of your horses and what will be the best fit for their lifestyle and safety.
Your Maintenance Capabilities
Different types of fencing will come with varying maintenance requirements, so it’s important to consider how long you want your fence to last and how you’ll need to care for it.
Vinyl fencing is one of the longer-lasting fencing options available and requires minimal maintenance. You’ll need to occasionally check it for any damage, but because this fencing is flexible, most damage will be minimal. To keep this fence looking its best, you’ll want to wash it periodically.
Electric fencing needs to be checked regularly to ensure the voltage doesn’t change or become too high and that it’s still functioning as required. You’ll also want to ensure that it remains tight and should retighten it if it becomes loose over time.
Hardwood fencing is one of the most popular options due to its high visibility and traditional look. White oak or ash hardwoods are best for railings and will naturally deter chewing because of their strength.
For posts, white oak or cedar are your best options. Wood fences need to be checked regularly for any splitting or nails becoming exposed, and painting will need to be done every few years if you’ve chosen to add this secondary layer of protection and style to your fence.
Horse Farm Fencing In Ontario
Finding the perfect fencing solution for your farm doesn’t have to be difficult.
System Equine has become a leader in equestrian products, and our expert team can help you find the solution that will meet your needs, making your fencing easy to maintain and adding a fresh look to your farm that you can be proud of.