Tuesdays with Tony

The docs have seen a lot of fencing-related injuries recently, so I have been tasked with educating you humans about the best way to keep your horses safely where you want them. Cats, as a rule, don’t exactly have boundaries, so I’m not sure I’m the best one to school you on this topic. However, I do know which type of horse fencing causes the most injuries that I see here in the clinic, and I overhear a lot of chit-chat regarding the do’s and dont’s of containing your equine companions. Here are the top 3 factors I would consider when choosing fencing for an accident-prone horse (which, as we know, is all of them).


horse fencingSafety

   We all know that horses are constantly looking for new and creative ways to injure themselves, and often they use their immediate enclosure as a means to achieve this end. But, with a little foresight, you can interfere with their self-destructive plan. My two favorite vets agree that barbed wire is not acceptable fence material for horses. Horses do not equal cows; their skin is not as thick, and their fight-or-flight instinct is much stronger. If a horse finds himself tangled in wire, he will immediately struggle and pull until he frees himself, even if that means leaving most of the skin from his legs behind. A cow, on the other hand, would probably just sit there and chew his cud until someone came out to feed the next morning.


That being said, plain wire is the number one source of fencing-related injuries I see here at the clinic. While it may seem harmless, it is difficult for horses to see (especially when running, in the dark, away from one of those invisible monsters). Wire fencing also tends to coil when broken (or when sitting in a pile prior to installation). Horses find these coils of wire particularly enticing as holes in which to place their limbs. “Goat wire” fencing is fine, but keep in mind that small rectangles are preferable over hoof-sized squares. Tip: Horses don’t like electricity! An electric wire around the top of your fencing will make almost any fence a safer fence.


   The height of your fencing should be determined by the animals you are attempting to contain. For example, if you have a Warmblood stallion who has a career as a jumper, you probably want at least 5’ electric fence on all sides. However, if you are planning on confining curious foals or adventurous minis, you may opt for wooden planks that start just a few inches off the ground. In addition to the size of your equid, you must also consider his temperament. Is your horse one to stick his leg or head through a gate made from a round pen panel, or is he smarter than that? I know I am, but we have previously established that cats are the superior species.


You are probably thinking, “that’s all fine and good, oh wise Tony The Magnificent, but I can’t afford miles of immaculate fencing like you see lining the roads of Lexington.” That’s OK! Good, safe fencing doesn’t have to be super-expensive, and it doesn’t have to be pretty. Instead of a 4-board wooden fence, consider wooden posts with goat wire between. If you want your fencing to hold up longer, try installing a strip of electric tape along the top to deter your horses from stretching over the top to graze, pick leaves from the trees, or scratch their necks. If you choose electric fencing, consider the solar powered version (with electric back-up) to save on your electric bill each month.

 I know you are all going to go right home and fix your fencing now. But just in case you have one of those horses who finds ways to hurt himself despite your best efforts at accident prevention, remember that Springhill Equine is available 24/7 for your emergencies! Any day, any time, including weekends and holidays, you will reach a real live vet on-call through our emergency hotline: (352) 474-5007. Not that you will need it now, all thanks to me!

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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