Sunday, July 25, 2010
What Is the Best Fence For You?
What type of fence do you use for your horses?
That is the ultimate question for horse homes, isn't it? It's a balancing act between functionality, safety, affordability, beauty, longevity, and practicality.
When we bought this home, a house in a field and nothing else, we really hoped we'd find some wonderful fencing for cheap. We'd hear our friend's stories about the $$$ they'd spend fencing--$20,000....$30,000....and up, and the smoke started coming out of our ears. Surely, we thought, there must be a better, cheaper way.
Initially, there was--it's called HOTWIRE. I love it. If you have a great charger and some 17 gauge--you can fence in the whole city for under $1,000. (Not including posts). But even hotwire has its issues--like horses who don't respect it--yes, I'm talking about you, Cowboy! At the end of the summer when everything's dry and the charge goes down, we'll find Cowboy out on our front lawn some mornings.
So, for the permanent fence (the fence we'll be working on for the next 20 years), we opted for treated wood--4x4 posts and 2x6 rails with two strands of electric running on the inside. Here are the reasons:
1. Functionality--This type of design is strong enough to create a barrier for the horses with the added electric to keep them from pushing into it to scratch or reaching over for green grass.
2. Safety--there is no way to impale themselves, get their necks or legs through or otherwise hurt themselves.
3. Affordability--Posts were about $8.00 and three 8' rails each at $6.00 plus a bag of concrete. All and all, about $28.00 per 7'. We just finished about another 500', and each year, as we can, we add more. Doing the labor ourselves, we found this to be the most cost effective fence.
4. Beauty--It looks rustic and should last a long time. It matches our home and , since, it's treated, it doesn't need to be painted each year.
5. Longevity--They say it should last at least 20 years--maybe more, if we keep it up.
6. Practicality--Our property has a lot of basalt rock. There are portions of it where the fence would run, so at these points, we had to have either a jackleg fence or some version of one. Our version was to put posts where we could and where we couldn't, my husband braced the post and poured a concrete base that melded to the slope and form of the rock.
This is the best fence for us, but what I've learned is, what's good for one horse property is NOT always good for another. There are as many different fences as horses out there. Every day my husband and I go for a walk around the neighborhood, we inspect the varied fencing techniques of our neighbors--all different--all seem to work pretty good.
Besides fencing, we are riding the trails a bit now. It's hot, so you almost have to do it early in the morning. I'm going to pull our horse trailer into the outdoor riding area this week so I can work on loading with Beautiful--it's something I haven't had to do much of since I got her--so it's about time I concentrate on it. I'll probably do it on one of the days my husband's home so he can help me. Now that we're mostly through with the projects, I'm hoping to enlist his help in working with the younger ones. Working with the horses is more fun when he's doing it with me.
Riagan, the Irish Wolfhound, is four months old now. Last week she started to accompany us to the barn off the leash. She knows not to go in with the horses. The only one who really seems interested in her is Beautiful. Beautiful is a very curious horse and she gets attached to the barn cats and the dogs.
I'm going to head out and see her now. The sun will start to go down soon and it will cool off--the best time of the day to be out there.