There are many different types of fence available, whatever type you choose the main consideration is that it is safe and positioned at a suitable height for the horses who will be occupying the field.
Types Of Fence
Height Of Fences
The higher and more secure you can make the fence the better. As a guide allow approximately 12 inches in between rails to help stop the horses heads from being able to reach through the gaps in the rails. Also consider what type of horses you are planning the fence for, for example a mare and foal will have different specifications than that of a fit jumping horse who is prone to jumping out.
If you are planning to have 3 rails your fence will be approximately 4.5 feet high. If you are planning to have 4 rails your fence will be approximately 5 to 6 feet high.
Any fence that is erected for horses must be as safe as possible, as horses do love to play when out in the field and accidents do sometimes happen, however choosing a fence that the horse cannot get tangled up in and is free from nails and sharp protrusions is half the battle!
Fence Height Safety
When a fence is erected, the minimum that it should have is a top, middle and bottom rail that are positioned at equal distances. The rails should be high enough off the floor to prevent foals and small ponies from rolling underneath them and high enough to encourage even the most determined escape, to stay safely in the field. The purpose of the middle rail acts as a filling rail so that you do not have a great big gap between the bottom and top rail, as gaps tend to encourage horses to lean through to get grass from the next field.
When it comes to security the more difficult that you can make it for the thieves the better. Check your horses and fencing on a daily basis. It is a good idea to have your horses security tagged or freeze marked as these precautions can also help to deter thieves. Put a padlock on the fence gate.
Electric Fence Safety
If you are using electric fencing, ensure that you can easily turn it off if you need to and make sure that again you position the electric fencing at the right height and tight enough so you do not have baggy and flapping fencing. Make sure to erect signs warning that the fence is electrified.
Where possible avoid fence areas that could cause a horse to get cornered in, by curving the edges of the field. Allow your fence to be as visible as possible by using a good width of rail. Wire for example is very difficult for horses to see, especially when they are travelling at speed towards it.
Hedges on there own are not a good idea because your horse will find a gap to squeeze through, no matter how thick you think the hedge is!
If your field entrance is near or next to a road or busy area, than a holding area just outside the field is an excellent idea. A holding area is a second enclosed area with another gate that leads out of the field. This will allow you to safely remove one horse from the field with the knowledge that if any other horses try to come out of the field they will end up in the holding area as opposed to out on the road and can therefore more easily be put back. A holding area is also useful for times where you may wish to feed one horse on its own, or tack up one horse without being disturbed by other horses that are sharing the field.
Daily Safety Checks
Daily checks of the field fencing are necessary to ensure that there are no sharp edges or loose rails. If you have several horses sharing a field shelter then you need to make sure that the field shelter is big enough and has at least two exits, so that no horse can get trapped in a corner.
Safe walkways and gateways are essential. Where possible try to avoid having to take horses directly through one field to gain access to another. All field gates should be easy to open and close and stay securely shut in place. The addition of chain padlocks can help to deter thieves. Ensure that gates are wide enough for horses and machinery to easily fit through, and that gates are at the same height as the fence. By adding a wide panel to the bottom of the gate can help to prevent horses form getting their legs caught up or hooves put through the gate itself.
All machinery or field equipment should be removed from the field or securely fenced off.
Any ponds or lakes should also be fenced off to prevent the horse from getting into difficulty. If you are using a stream as your fields drinking supply then it should have a stony bottom to it and a safe incline into and out of it, fence off areas that could be potentially unsafe. If you are using a water trough as your fields water supply then position the trough somewhere where it will be easy to check but not too close to the field entrance as this can cause the gateway to become congested.