Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- Fencing Fantasia

They're here! The fencing guys are here! Here's hoping that by the end of the day, they'll be gone and leave behind a brand new, Theo-proof pasture!

To start the project, they sank the corner posts last night, and strung guide wires between the posts to keep the fence line straight (a novel concept where my fencing is concerned).

Today, they will sink the rest of the posts and get the actual fence up. The top strand and a lower strand will be electrified. Three other strands are white poly-coated high-tension wire for high visibility.

In my fencing research, I learned several factors about safe fencing for horses:

1.) A horse thinks "forward" before he thinks "back" and tends to reason with his neck. In other words, if the head and neck are past a certain point before the horse gets zapped by the electric, he will jump forward (through the fence) rather than backward (and stay in the pasture). For this reason, you want an electrified top wire that zaps him before he's reached over the fence to start grazing.

2.) Visibility is more important than electricity. Horses will avoid what they can see more than they will stop at an invisible shocking "something."

3.) Corners are key. Strong corners will keep an entire fence line up. Weak corners can compromise the entire fence.

4.) The strongest fence for livestock is one that is strung up on the inside of the posts. That way, if livestock do lean over it, they will push the fence into the post, rather than popping it off the post. (Unsurprisingly, the prettiest fence is one strung up on the outside of posts. Pretty is as pretty does...)

5.) Fence in as much area as you can afford. (Remember the bit about the corners being the most important factor? Corners are expensive. One square acre, or 4 square acres, it makes no difference -- you've still only got 4 corners.) Fencing 4 acres does not take twice as much material as fencing 2 acres.

Nothing worthwhile comes cheaply. But if done right, a fence will last for years -- and so will the horses inside it.