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Equestrian & Horse Fencing - The Complete Guide

Posted By  Becky Tudor  On August 25, 2023

Equestrian fencing plays a crucial role in maintaining the safety and well-being of your horses, so choosing the right type and figuring out how to effectively install and protect it can feel like a big task. Use this guide to assess your specific needs and discover advice and best-practices for installing your fences for horses.

Contents

  1. What type of fence is best for horses?
    • Post and rail
    • Horse netting (diamond mesh)
    • Electric fencing
    • Steel pipe fencing
  2. Protecting your equestrian fencing
    • How can I keep my fences secure with Postsaver?
    • What makes PostSaver such a reliable option?
  3. Constructing a horse paddock or arena
    • Fence height
    • Paddock size
    • Land maintenance
  4. FAQ
    • What type of fencing should you avoid for horses?
    • How far apart should fence posts be for horses?
    • What's the best fencing type for blind horses?
  5. Wrapping up

1. What type of fence is best for horses?

There are a number of equestrian fencing options that can adequately protect your horses, but their range of properties appeal to different needs and requirements. Whichever option you go for, it's crucial that fences for horses have high visibility so that your they understand where the boundary is and don't accidentally run into it.

Post and rail fencing

Post and rail fencing is ideal for horse paddocks because it's sturdy, robust and highly visible. Horses may try to poke their heads or hooves through the gaps however, so it's important that they're not small enough for the horses to get themselves stuck. If you want to avoid this (as well as horses leaning too hard against the fence), you can attach a string of electric tape to dissuade them.

You will need to keep up with annual re-treatments (unless your wood is already pressure treated), but many find this maintenance worth it for the naturalistic appearance.

Horse netting (diamond mesh)

Horse netting, otherwise known as equine mesh, is a type of equestrian fencing commonly used for horse paddocks and exercise arenas. The wire mesh provides a strong, highly visible barrier with gaps small enough that horses can't get themselves entangled or stuck.

One issue with using wire fencing with horses is that it poses the risk of them catching their skin on sharp edges, especially since horses notoriously like to rub themselves against fences. As a result, it's crucial that your diamond mesh is checked for breakages and is smooth to the touch.

Electric fencing

Some horse owners opt for electric fencing, which transmits electrical pulses that give a shock upon contact. This works because it conditions the horse not to approach the fence, but it's important that you train your horses on the boundaries of their paddock to avoid them unnecessarily hurting themselves.

You should also regularly test your electric fence with a voltmeter and ensure that it's within a normal range (between 2,000 and 9,000 volts).

Electric fencing is not suitable for riding arenas and should only be used for large paddocks where the risk of accidental contact is low.

Steel pipe fencing

Image by hicret

Steel pipe fencing is often used in riding arenas and exercise paddocks because of its robust and durable design. However, whilst this might reduce the risk of your fence breaking, it heightens the risk of a horse or rider getting injured should they hit the fence at high speed.

Because of this, steel pipe fencing is generally not recommended for paddocks, where experts advise you should opt for fences that have a little bit of give.

Steel pipe fencing is also difficult to reconfigure, which could pose a problem if you end up wanting to change the size of your arena.

2. Protecting your equestrian fencing

Whether you're running a stable facility or fencing an equestrian property, a well-constructed fence adds pleasing aesthetics and value to your land. Although cheaper fences might seem appealing, consider the vet bills and potential hazards you could face using a cheaper wire alternative.

When installing new equestrian fencing, it's sensible to opt for a heavy-duty fence such as post and rail. You know just as well as we do how much horses like a good itch from time to time.

Your fence and gate posts need to be reliable to prevent them from breaking, keeping horses secure and saving you money in the long-term.

Pony scratching it's head

The expense of fences for horses can be eye-watering, especially if you're dividing up a large land area into several paddocks. Horse fencing needs to last.

Premature post-failure because of ground rot is by far one of the leading causes of fence failure. By protecting against ground rot, you could see yourself saving money and protecting your animals. Read on to see how Postsaver can help.

How can I keep my fences secure with Postsaver?

You can easily keep your fence and gates secure with some careful planning and knowledge of why your fence is at risk. Just beneath the surface of the soil, we find the three key components for rotting wood, these are:

  1. Moisture

    When wood is exposed to excess moisture or damp conditions, it absorbs water, leading to swelling, warping, and a loss of its natural structural integrity. Moisture creates an ideal environment for fungi and bacteria to thrive, accelerating the decay process.

  2. Oxygen

    Oxygen exposure leads to the weakening of wood's fibres, making it more susceptible to decay. Oxygen availability also enables the growth of microorganisms such as fungi which cause it to deteriorate over time.

  3. Fungi

    Fungi secrete enzymes that break down the structural components of wood, primarily cellulose and lignin. This enzymatic activity weakens the wood's structure, causing it to lose its strength and durability.

All three must be present for wood decay. In the upper section of the soil, it is well oxygenated, and with warmer temperatures, fungi can thrive. Once decay has started, it's only a matter of time before post-failure occurs. Don't take our word for it though, if you have a post-failure see for yourself where the problem lies.

Fortunately, Postsaver Post Rot Protection is the answer to your worries. The rot is isolated to the ground line and can be protected by sealing the wood's surface with an air and watertight seal. Our rot protectors use dual-layer rot prevention technology to seal the vulnerable section of your post.

An inner bituminous liner melts when heated, which penetrates the surface of the wood. The outer layer is a highly durable and UV stabilised film which protects the inner liner. The two work together to form a complete air and watertight seal.

Our dual-layer system is perfect for keeping the rot locked out and the decay locked in, keeping your posts secure for longer. Ask your contractor for more details.

What makes Postsaver such a reliable option?

We know just how many fencing types you have to choose from, so we developed a range of rot protectors to fit any size post, including gate posts. Whether you're using post and rail, half rounds, or square posts and heavy rail, to name a few, we've got you covered. You can rest assured knowing that whatever kind of fencing you choose, it's protected if you choose to apply our rot protection. 

Did you know our rot protection also features a 20-year guarantee? Ask your contractor to use Postsaver so you have the peace of mind that your fence posts are guaranteed for 20-years, a great way to cut your long-term costs. If you want to find out more about the guarantee and our proven method, click here.

For installation, why not ask your trusted local fencing contractor to get in touch today. We can supply everything they need to carry out a quality installation. Alternatively take a look at our installation accessories if you want to carry out the work yourself. 

3. Constructing a horse paddock or arena

When it comes to constructing a paddock or arena for your horses, there are some specific considerations that you need to take into account. If you're looking for more general advice on how to install paddock and field fencing, check out our step-by-step guide.

Fence height

Horses are tall animals, so your fence needs to accommodate by sitting at a height that prevents them from attempting to jump over it. This should be at least 1 to 1.5 metres (3.3 to 5 feet) for most horses, but taller breeds or athletic horses may require even higher.

Image by Jasmin Chew

The British Horse Society recommends you stick to the following guidelines when considering the height of your equestrian fencing:

Horses: 1.08 m - 1.38 m (3.6 ft - 4.6 ft) 

Ponies: 1 m - 1.3 m (3.3 ft - 4.3 ft) 

Stallions: 1.25 m - 2 m (4.1 ft - 6.5 ft)

However, if you're using the minimum height, it's advised that you use a double fence line with an electric fence line running along the top.

Paddock size

The British Horse Society recommends that you should allow between 1-1.5 acres of land per horse to allow them ample opportunity to graze and to avoid fights between horses.

If you have too small an enclosure, you run the risk of your field becoming "horse-sick", where the land becomes patchy, parched and lacking in new growth. This can pose health risks to your horses and provokes them to fight over the limited grass available.

If you are keeping multiple horses across different paddocks, it's recommended that you incorporate a double fence line between the two enclosures, allowing at least 3 metres between the two fences. If the horses are in view of each other across different enclosures, this can cause them to try and interact, which can cause damage to your fencing if there isn't enough space between pastures.

Land maintenance

As you know, constructing a horse paddock is not just about erecting a fence around a suitably sized piece of land and leaving your horses to it. You need to make sure that you choose the appropriate terrain for your enclosure and keep on top of maintenance to protect the well-being of your animals. When introducing horses to a new enclosure or group, it's important to monitor their interactions carefully to ensure peaceful integration.

Image by Lübna Abdullah

Try to level out the land in your paddock as much as possible to avoid water pooling and damaging the land, as well as to avoid horses tripping over bumps or ditches. Having a level enclosure will also make it easier to fence the perimeter, and promote the health of the paddock's vegetation.

As with any grazing livestock you need to keep a close eye on the condition of grass available to your horses. If you have a small paddock, you will need to incorporate rotational grazing to allow the land to recover.

Check for and remove any toxic plants and consider planting trees to provide natural shade for your horses to escape the heat of the sun. Also, make sure to regularly remove manure to prevent parasite infestations and other health concerns.

It's important to do your own research and ensure that you remove any plants that are poisonous to horses. However, some of the most common plants to beware of include:

  • Ragwort
  • Foxgloves
  • Buttercups
  • Nightshade
  • Rhododendron
  • Ivy
Image of ragwort by K. Mitch Hodge

4. FAQ

What type of fencing should you avoid for horses?

It's crucial to avoid any type of fence that is likely to cause injury to your horses. Barbed wire poses a particular threat because of its dangerously sharp edges, but anything that includes protruding wires or sharp edges or points is worth steering well clear of.

Even if your fencing is smooth, if it's not visible to your horses from a distance, they may accidentally run into it and hurt themselves. For this reason, it's essential that fences for horses are highly visible.

Lastly, you should avoid any type of fence that your horse may be able to get stuck in. Horses are curious animals and often try to poke their heads or hooves through gaps, so if there's a chance that they won't be able to pull it back through, this can pose a serious hazard. Ideally, use fencing that incorporates either close gaps smaller than a hoof or gaps large enough that they can't get stuck.

How far apart should fence posts be for horses?

  • It's generally advised that post and rail fencing should be spaced between 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 metres) apart.
  • For horse netting, post spacing can range from 8 to 12 feet (2.4 to 3.7 meters), depending on the height and strength of the mesh.
  • Electric fencing is usually placed between 10 to 16 feet (3 to 4.9 meters) apart. The precise post spacing for electric fencing can vary from fence to fence and it's important that you get the right spacing for your product, so make sure to consult the manufacturer's instructions for your specific setup.
  • Steel pipe fencing with horizontal rails usually involves post spacing ranging from 6 to 12 feet (1.8 to 3.7 meters).

What's the best fencing type for blind horses?

If you have a horse that's blind or visually impaired, then it's especially important that your fencing doesn't pose any potential hazards. In addition to a safe fence, the enclosure should be free of obstacles and sharp drops that may cause a visually impaired horse to injure itself.

To avoid your horses accidentally walking or running into a fence, you can provide sensory cues such as scented markers or wind chimes so that they understand where the boundary is without having to approach it. If your horse's eyesight is poor but not completely gone, brightly coloured flags can provide helpful visual cues.

Caring for blind horses can be tricky. Make sure that you keep a close eye on your blind or visually impaired horses to ensure that they're not facing issues with their surroundings or other horses in the herd. It's likely that you will have to keep your blind horse in a separate enclosure to avoid others taking advantage of its vulnerability.

5. Wrapping up

So there you have it - everything you need to know about fences for horses! Whether you're segregating pasture land, exercise paddocks, or defining property boundaries, your equestrian fencing needs to stand the test of time. Whilst there's a range of different types of horse fencing that can accommodate to different purposes and types of horse, the most important thing for all is that it's sturdy, long-lasting and protects the wellbeing of your beloved animals.

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Postsaver Post Rot Protection

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Postsaver manufactures and supplies guaranteed post rot protection that is proven to extend the life of wooden fence and gate posts. With millions of Pro-Wrap and Pro-Sleeve post protectors supplied to date, our patented rot protection is independently tested and proven in volume use since 1994.
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*When applied to posts that meet the requirements of BS8417:2012 - UC4 (Use Class 4). See guarantee for details
**Based on not having to replace your fence in 10 years time due to post failure.


Postsaver uses long term independent test data on the effectiveness of barrier sleeves and wraps to reach all the conclusions given on this website (test data available on request). Based on this data, Postsaver believes longer life, maintenance of strength over time, improved safety and reliability, extended inspection periods and reduced maintenance requirements are reasonable claims. This is subject to Postsaver products being correctly applied as per our instructions and used on correctly preservative treated (for long term in-ground use - use class 4 or higher) wooden fence posts that are free of decay at the time of rot protection application. The claims made, real or implied are not warranties. It is the responsibility of the user to evaluate and satisfy themselves that the performance of the product meets their specific safety, reliability, extended inspection, repair and any other performance or cost-benefit criteria before using Postsaver rot protectors
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