Choosing the Right Materials for a Paddock Fence

Choosing the Right Materials for a Paddock Fence

Erecting fencing for horses poses a unique set of challenges. Horses are powerful, mobile animals which are more likely than any other commonly kept livestock to run a fence down, making strength and safety a priority.

As horses are far-sighted, fencing needs to be highly visible to guard against collisions. It needs to offer a degree of flexibility as well as strength to absorb any impact and minimise the risk of injury, and it needs to be of an appropriate height to discourage horses to lean over in search of food, which risks damage to the neck.

Getting your choice of materials right is critical to meeting all of these requirements. The main elements to a fence are the posts and rails or balustrades, and each offers a variety of options in materials you can choose.

Material for posts

Posts are the key to providing strength and stability for any type of fence. For equestrian fencing, you therefore need posts made out of a tough, robust material. Prefabricated concrete posts are an option, but they are heavy and therefore burdensome to install. They also pose an issue when attaching rails and balustrades, as the hard material of every post has to be drilled individually.

Wooden fence posts are much more common around paddocks. They are much lighter and easier to handle than concrete posts, with the option of driving the sharpened ends directly into the ground as well as setting them in a base. Still, timber posts of a suitable diameter will provide all the strength and support you need for equestrian use. Because of the strength factor, it is more common to see full round posts used around paddocks than the half round alternatives.

Material for rails and balustrades

This is where the options really do start to multiply in making the selection for your paddock fence. From rails to wire and timber to carbon polymer, there is certainly a lot to consider.

Sticking with timber rails for a moment, like wooden fence posts they offer the benefits of being relatively easy to install (especially paired with wooden posts) and provide a good balance of strength and flexibility. Because of their bulk, they ensure fencing remains visible to horses and are often chosen for their aesthetic qualities, especially when painted. The main drawbacks to timber rails are that they are pricey and require regular maintenance.

For other types of livestock, wire mesh fencing is very common. It is used less for horses due to strength requirements, although it is far from unheard of. Wire mesh products suitable for equestrian use tend to be rigid in structure with small openings to stop hooves becoming caught. Regular maintenance needs to be carried out to ensure the right level of tension in the balustrade and to correct bending and gap formation.

Finally, another option is to run wire between posts. Usually the cheapest way to erect a stock fence, for horses strength is the key issue. The risk of injury posed by barbed wire is widely viewed as unacceptable these days, while plain wire is not sturdy enough. Tensioning wire, which is steel coated in PVC or galvanised, offers a more sturdy option as it can be strained more tightly between posts. Visibility can remain an issue, however.

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