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What is the best kind of fence for a horse pasture?

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Safety is your main concern when purchasing fence, even when restricted by a budget.

Image: K. Blocksdorf

Question: What is the best kind of fence for a horse pasture?

No type of fencing is totally safe or foolproof, but some fences are better than others.

Answer: The most traditional fencing is wooden rails—either log or planks. Cedar logs are often used, as are two by ten-inch planks held with posts a minimum of four inches in diameter. Injuries to horses can occur when logs or rails splinter if broken.

There are many types of vinyl and plastic fencing available that are designed specifically for horses. Plastic rails imitate the look of wood with no need for paint. Other types of plastic fencing are a combination of synthetic material reinforced with wire. These fences are attractive and relatively safe although it is possible for a horse to become entangled and cut by the wire.

Electric fencing provides a psychological barrier, and animals are not contained by the strength of the fence but by the fear of the painful but harmless shock. It is not a good choice for small areas, but may provide affordable, adequate containment around large pastures where traditional fencing can’t be erected, or where temporary fencing is needed. Many options exist including polyester braid, nylon webbing, plastic or metal poles, and battery, solar or electric powered. Electric fencing is not allowed in some areas so check with your municipality before putting up electric fence. Some horses learn to run through the wire, and injury can occur if a horse becomes entangled.

Unless it is specifically designed for horses, wire fencing is a poor choice. Some mesh fences are now designed to safely keep horses in, while keeping unwanted pests such as disease carrying opossums out. The size of the spaces between the wire is small enough to prevent a horse kicking a foot through, or sticking its head between and becoming entangled. Page wire with eight or ten-inch  openings, or high-tensile  wire, whether electrified or not is a dangerous choice for horse fencing. A horse or pony can easily be entangled and seriously cut by the wire, sometimes fatally.

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