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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55 September 2018 THE HORSE unsurpassed if installed correctly on wood posts. You can also use vinyl posts if you monitor them for ultraviolet-ray degradation over time that can make them brittle and dangerous when they break. Like all high-tensile fence wire, the key to installation is proper tension: It must be higher than that of traditional wire fence. You must install larger corner posts and gate posts that are well-braced— typically with a second post—to with- stand the constant tension, even when the ground is soft in the spring or after heavy rains. I've noticed this type of fence is gaining popularity in horse country. Safety Excellent. The high-tensile wire offers both strength and flexibility, surviving horse and hoof impact without entangling the animal. Again, wood posts are a proven support system. Initial cost High. "The initial cost is al- most 50% higher (than four-board wood) but we think may be more than offset by the lower maintenance cost," says Taylor. "If a tree falls on the fence the rails tend to stretch instead of breaking, making re- pairs a simple matter of retensioning. We have installed a test paddock to evaluate this system and may be moving in that direction over time." Long-term maintenance cost Low. This system eliminates the constant mainte- nance and painting of wood rails. How- ever, you will need to repaint wood posts periodically to maintain their appearance. If you purchase white polymer rail, you might need to power-wash it every few years. Aesthetic appeal Excellent. From a dis- tance this fence looks like well- maintained traditional wood plank fencing. Wire Field This is the traditional woven wire fence farmers use to contain a variety of live- stock. Typically, the horizontal wires are spaced closer at the bottom for smaller animals. However, this fence is some- times installed upside down for horse applications—the theory being that if an animal gets its foot through, it will have a better chance of extricating it without injury. It might also include a wood top rail for horse pastures. I have seen this system used on many small pleasure horse operations and even a few Thoroughbred farms. If using a top rail, wood posts must be on 8-foot centers. Some farm owners, especially those with cattle in the Midwest, alternate wood posts with steel T-posts or use all T-posts, except at corners, and a single strand of barbed wire on top. However, T-posts are not recommended for horse fence due to the sharp tops that can cause injury; the plastic caps available for these posts are not a long-term solution. And, generally speaking, barbed wire is inap- propriate for horses. As with all wire, installation involves stretching to avoid sags and installing properly braced corner and gate posts. Safety Marginal, depending on how it's installed. Avoid steel T-posts and barbed wire. Initial cost Moderate. Long-term maintenance cost Low. Because it does not look like traditional horse fence, treated posts can be left unpainted. If impact damages the fence, repair involves restretching the fence after replacing the damaged portion. Aesthetic appeal It looks like farm fence, not horse fence, although a wood top rail can improve its appearance. High-Tensile Wire By itself, multistrand high-tensile fence is inappropriate for horses. It is difficult to see, and a panicked horse can be seri- ously injured if he runs into it. However, I have used this type of fence as an internal paddock divider when combined with a band of mesh high-tensile tape at the top to create a visual barrier and had no problems. I used wood posts on 30-foot High-tensile fencing in a polymer rail is designed to provide strength and flexibility, while giving the appearance of board fencing. DAVID PRESTON Add a band of tape to the top of high-tensile fencing to make it safer for use with horses. DAVID PRESTON

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