Choosing the right fencing

When choosing fencing, it is a good idea to consider everything carefully. What type of fence do you want, should it be more or less maintenance-free, is there an electrical connection close to the paddock?

Electric fences are available as wire, tape or rope. For paddocks, use two or three wires/tapes/ropes in the fence at a height of about 60, 90 and 120 cm. These fences are practical and simple to erect using plastic and/or impregnated wooden posts.

Plastic fences are usually almost maintenance-free. When choosing plastic, it is important to think about choosing UV-stabilised plastic if you want a fence that looks nice.

The quality of the plastic varies a lot between manufacturers and models; make sure that the plastic is of a high quality and resistant to the cold so that it does not crack. There is also plastic fencing with metal thread incorporated into it that can be electrified.

Wooden fencing usually requires maintenance, but there are types of wood that reduce the need for maintenance.Painted or impregnated fencing has to be retreated every few years. It is a good idea to supplement a wooden fence with electrical wire placed on the inside in order to prevent the horse chewing on the wood.

Sheep fencing is unsuitable for horses as there is a very high risk of injury. Since 1 January 2010, it has been illegal to use barbed wire as fencing for horses.

The fencing method will depend on the type of fencing you have chosen. Regardless of the type of fence, it is important to that all the products you choose, whether the wire, posts, insulators or power supply unit, are of a good quality. Good quality products last longer and increase safety.

If the paddock is to be permanent, you should use pressure impregnated posts or sturdy posts made of a better plastic. The posts should be at least 150 cm high. The distance between the posts depends a bit on what you are fencing with. When using wire and the like, the posts should be four to six metres apart, whereas the length of the poles determines the distance if you are using plastic or wooden poles. It is preferable for corner posts to be both longer and a little stronger as the corners are subject to a high load. Consequently, it may even be appropriate to place struts against these posts to make them more stable.

If the paddock will be used by more than one horse, it is a good idea not to make the corners too sharp to prevent one of the horses getting boxed in by the others and becoming injured as a result.

If you have wire/tape/rope and wooden posts, you also need to have insulators as you cannot wind this around or attach it directly to the posts. If you need to join them somewhere, you need to use special joining plates or join locks as it is easy for the filaments in the thread not to make a proper contact with each other if they are simply tied together, which can also damage them and prevent the current from being conducted through the fence as it should.

When you make a gate, there are a few different types to choose from; everything from a simple gate handle attached to the wire, for example, to ready-prepared elastic gate systems. It is important to know that if you choose what is known as a spring gate, which has a handle attached to a substantial spiral spring, it is easy for the horse's tail to get stuck in the spring, resulting in a dangerous situation.

If you have chosen an electric fence, it is advantageous to have a nearby electrical connection to connect the power supply to. If this is not possible, there are also power supply units that are battery powered, as well as batteries that can be charged by solar cells.

Good to know:

  • Choose wire/tape/rope that conducts the current well. The resistance/conductivity is given in ohms. The resistance has to be as low as possible; the lower the number of ohms, the better the conductivity. As a guideline:
    • 0.10 ohms/m = very good conductivity
    • 4.0 ohms/m = acceptable
    • 15 ohms/m = poor
  • If you need a really strong power supply unit, choose one with a high Joule value, as the number of Joules indicates the amount of energy the unit can be charged with.
  • If you have impregnated posts, you should use those that are labelled with NTR-A as these cope better with the stresses both over and under the ground.
  • Make sure to earth the power supply properly; the ground should be as damp as possible, i.e. don't place the earth spike close to well-drained foundations.
  • Check that the wire is carefully tensioned and that grass or tree branches are not caught in the electrical thread. It's good to use a fence tester to ensure that the current in the fence is as it should be.
  • If your paddock is adjacent to a public road or a footpath, there have to be warning signs to indicate that it is an electric fence.
  • Your power supply unit should be protected if it's not waterproof; you can simply build a small box in which to hang the unit.
  • A special lightning protector can be mounted close to the power supply to protect it from lightning strikes.
  • Horses perceive contrasting colours better and single colours, which is good to know if the electrical thread is thin and difficult to see.

Useful measurements:

  • The posts should be at least 150 cm long in order to be properly fixed into the ground. The corner posts should be both longer and stronger in order to cope with the stress they are put under.
  • The distance between the posts when using wire or similar should be 4–6 metres. Wide electrical tape is affected by the wind and should be used with shorter distances between the posts.
  • The wire is normally placed at a height of 60, 90 and 120 cm. If you only have large horses, the two higher measurements are all that are required.
  • Think about having a "corridor" between paddocks or use what are known as Y posts to stop horses from different paddocks coming into contact.
  • If the paddock is used for grazing, if possible provide c. 1 ha per horse. 

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