SPONSORED BY Fitton HorseInsure
The best fence for horses will always be expensive, but did you know your farm insurance can cover fence repair and replacement?
Good safe fences are an essential part of a horse property. They don’t just keep horses secure but also serve to protect certain areas and maintain boundaries with neighbours and public roads.
Good horse fences also reduce the chance of accidents. They help you sleep at night knowing that your animals are safely confined on the property. When the fences are well laid out and aesthetically pleasing, they increase the value of the property.
The time spent planning, choosing the right materials and building is always money well spent. Yes, fencing is expensive but, are your fences insured? For example, Fitton HorseInsure offer the option of insuring only your boundary fences, only your internal fences or both together. This means that in case of damage, such as a bushfire, you will be able to repair and/or replace your fencing – and keep your horses safe.
There is no single type of fence that is ideal for all situations, climate, type of horse or budget. Traditionally, fences made the best use of local and easily available materials but today and within reason, it is possible to buy almost any type of fencing material wherever you live. Modern horse property owners have many choices and options.
Horse properties may also have several different kinds of fencing within the property as different areas often require different types of fencing.
The fencing used in each particular area depends on many factors, including;
- the paddock or yard size,
- the size and type of horses,
- whether other types of livestock will be using the area and of course,
- the budget.
Safety and management
Grazing management also influences the type of fence that can be used. If pastures are well maintained, the horses will spend time grazing rather than looking for ways to get into the next paddock, or trying to eat the greener grass on the other side of the fence!
If horses are kept in groups, they are not as likely to spend time at the fence looking for other horses, or even worse, playing with those over a fence. Good grazing and groups actually reduce the risk of fencing injuries and land degradation issues, such as tracking lines along fence lines.
The aim should be to strike a balance between having enough paddocks to rotate (so that grass gets a chance to rest, recover and grow), and not having too many small paddocks which are difficult to manage and costly to set up.
Safety should be the priority when designing fences for horses. While fences are costly, the most expensive options are not necessarily the safest or the best. Horses can and will injure themselves on any type of fence, so the aim should be to keep them away from each other!
Best practice recommendations
There are certain things you can do to reduce the risks:
- Turn horses out together to reduce the incidence of horses walking fence lines and even challenging fences in an attempt to get to the other horses.
- Use electric internal fences and add electric fencing to existing and boundary fences to keep horses away from the fence and therefore away from danger.
Whatever fencing material is used, it must be smooth and strong and have no projections. Gateways in particular are potentially very dangerous places for horses (and people) so have a good look at your existing fences and gateways and ‘risk assess’ them.
The boundary fence, in many ways, is the most important fence on a property because it keeps horses (and any other animals) in the property, and can also help to keep intruders out (depending on the construction).
The internal fences may not need to be as physically strong as the perimeter fence but still require good planning if the land is to be managed well.
The shape of the paddocks will be dictated by the available space and the topography (contours, features and shape of the landscape).
Poor subdivision of your land can be the start of problems such as soil erosion. Whenever possible, aim to fence along the contour lines to reduce erosion.
It is best practice to never have acute angles and even avoid right angle corners in paddocks where horses are kept in groups, as they can be cornered in them while playing. Corners can be eliminated easily by fencing across them with wire or tape, then planting the area with bushes or trees.
There are many options when it comes to choosing fencing. Each type has its pros and cons, but whatever type you choose, build good fences and gateways and they will pay dividends by giving you years of safe usage.
Remember, your perimeter fence is most important, make this a priority and build the best you can afford.
And, for peace of mind, regularly review the level of insurance cover you have for your property so you can protect yourself and your horses from unforeseen events and major loss.