The Horse

SEP 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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53 September 2018 THE HORSE FARM & BARN DAVID PRESTON N ever take farm fencing projects light- ly. You'll likely have to live with the resulting paddocks and pastures for years to come, and that can be frustrating and inconvenient if you're unhappy with their appearance or practicality. When I moved from Northern Illinois to the Kentucky Bluegrass, for instance, I constructed my paddocks as I would have in Illinois, and they ended up being much too large. Because the grass production in Kentucky is greater, the expansive fields put my horses at risk of founder, and I ultimately had to subdivide them. The differences in fence and paddock types are even more significant in the arid West or the wet Southeast—indeed, one factor to consider when you're planning fencing is geography. Other fencing decisions are universal, depending on the type of operation. Most professional horse farms separate pad- docks with double fence rows so horses can't fraternize over fencelines. Corners are radiused (rounded) to avoid inside traps and outside sharp projections. You'll also want to consider gates and their locations, which can either ease or complicate daily chores and might be dif- ficult to change, depending on the fence type. Designate larger gates for clear ac- cess for mowing and feeding equipment, and smaller gates for leading animals to and from the barn. Mount gates high enough to avoid dragging the ground after they inevitably settle and sag. The most important decision you make, however, will probably be fence type, which will vary depending on where you live and what breed of horse you have. For instance, fences that are safe for ranch-style Quarter Horses might not be appropriate for hot-blooded racing Thoroughbreds. "There is no perfect fence," says Frank Taylor, vice president of boarding operations and co-owner of Taylor Made Farm and Sales Agency, in Lexington, Kentucky. He's responsible for managing 1,500 acres of horse paddocks with more than 100 miles of fence, containing ap- proximately 600 Thoroughbred stallions, mares, and foals. "When this farm was started years ago," he says, "we installed wood four- board fence because of the combination of safety, price, and beauty. However, it requires a lot of expensive maintenance and chewing is a constant problem. "We have installed a single strand of electric inside the upper edge of the top rail of our wood fence, which has helped with leaning and chewing," he adds. Consider the above factors and adapt this information to your operation, ter- rain, and type of horses as you read on. Four-Board Wood This is the classic horse fence seen in America, England, and other parts of the world. Here in Central Kentucky, with our many Thoroughbred and Standard- bred horse farms, it has been the fence of choice for more than a hundred years. It is a proven barrier that contains fractious racehorses and valuable breeding stock. It consists of treated wood posts, usu- ally 8 inches in diameter, placed 8 feet on center. The posts are 8 feet long, with approximately 3 ½ feet of that below ground. Rough-sawn 1-by-6-inch oak boards 16 feet long are then spaced equal- ly with the joints staggered for strength and nailed to the inside of the post. By staggering the boards and placing them on the inside, you create a very strong and somewhat flexible barrier. Many property owners paint these fences black On the Fence ISTOCK.COM When choosing a fence type for your horse property, keep safety, maintenance, and aesthetics in mind The classic four-board wood fence is safe and aesthetically appealing but requires occasional repainting and repair.

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