You Can’t Fence Them In

Recently, after a friend had a very tragic run-in with her horse getting tangled in barb-wire fence, I was amazed to find how many people still had barb-wire fence with their horses. Barb-wire fence dates back to 1863, and was designed to “poke” livestock that approached the fence and discourage them from breaking through. I am sure this new and exciting type of fencing was of great use to ranchers and farmers who constantly had cattle and other livestock constantly getting loose and breaking down fence lines. Barb-wire is also known as “The Wire That Fenced the West. There is even a book written about it by Henry D. and Frances McCallum if you are looking for some good non-fiction reading this winter! However, since that time, the west has been settled and there are seemingly endless ways to safely fence in livestock that does not include barb wire fencing. I will never argue that barb wire is not a great fencing material, but it also comes with its tragedies. Below are some pictures of the mare that got tangled in the fencing, she generally is not a trouble maker that will get tangled in fencing, she has lived most of her life with barb wire fencing without incident. However, it goes to show that even the “tamest” horse can get themselves into a sticky situation with fencing.



This got me thinking about the different fences I have been around, and have seen people with horses use. Below I have compiled a list of some very popular fencing along with the pros and cons of each fencing type.

Wood Fencing- One of the most common with older barns, and a part of the iconic barn. Wooden fencing can be expensive to install as it will require a lot of maintenance to keep the elements from weathering it. Also some horses will have a tendency to chew on wooden fences which can also be costly to try to discourage or replace board. You can discourage wood chewing and kicking through boards by lining the wood fencing with electric hot wire. Wood fencing is very strong and has give, in case horses are to run into the fencing.


Wire Fencing- There are a few varieties of wire fencing that include but are not limited to: no climb fence or v-mesh wire, woven wire, and smooth wire. A big issue with wire fencing can be visibility. This can be remedied by placing white wire tape across the top, or by lining the fence with boards to help with visibility. You also want to make sure that the wire is well secured by t-posts to make sure the horses cannot lean over the fence and push it down.

Pipe Panels- I like pipe panels for fencing, but it also has its downfalls. Horses can get a leg caught between the panels which can cause injury. Like with the wire and the wood fencing, there is no give to the panels so that is another downfall. It does withstand weather as long as the panels have been galvanized or coated to withstand the elements.


PVC Fencing- A very popular choice due to its ability to withstand the elements, visibility, low maintenance, no painting, and no chew attributes. One drawback is the cost of installation, but many people will go with PVC fencing because the benefits outweigh the cost.

Electric Fencing- Can be a great addition to any of the above mentioned fencing as a deterrent from trying to take down fence lines. Also can be great for mobile pastures, using stakes that can be easily moved, you can monitor the areas your horses are grazing with ease. Electric fencing comes in tape and wire generally. One drawback is that if the fence loses power, it can become a very weak fence that even the most docile horse can get loose from.

Picture Courtesy of:

There are some other types of fencing that are used much less widely than the options talked about above. These can include: polymer wire, rubber belting, and chain link just to name a few. If you have any fencing that hasn’t been listed here in my blog please feel free to share!

-Emily Bomgardner


Please note, comments must be approved before they are published