If you have read my blog on finding the perfect horse fencing, http://equinefacilitydesign.com/2012/07, you’ll remember that I successfully found the perfect perimeter/pasture fencing as part of my overall horse farm plan for my facility.
While I am exceptionally happy with it for my pastures, I wanted something different for my paddocks. So my next fencing dilemma was to search for the perfect paddock fence. And like Don Quixote’s ongoing quest of tilting at windmills, I once again began my search; would I find a solution? Poor Don only had his grouchy squire, Sancho Panza astride his donkey, Dapples, to help him. I, on the other hand, turned to Equine Facility Design to provide me with a selection of options.
Personally, I like my horses (no matter their size) to socialize through and over their paddock fence. What I didn’t like about the steel pipe fencing I had was the vertical spacing. It was wide enough for them to get a leg or head through and a bit too impenetrable if they were spooked and tried to run through it as did one of my horses during an unexpected fireworks display from a neighbor one fourth of July. At the same time, it was too bendable when they did.
The non climb I used for my pasture fencing was five foot tall and would allow no real nose to nose contact for my smaller equine friends (especially my own little donkey) or the always-popular face boxing of my herd loving geldings. I could have dropped the fence height to four feet but the wood top rail looked too inviting for chewing. I also wondered if the no climb would loosen over time with the heavy use and/or abuse paddock fencing sometimes endure.
The answer was in a compromise. Did I go with my first choice in perfect paddock fencing? Sadly, no but would have loved this product and did considered it as an option for my perimeter/pasture fencing as part of my overall horse farm plan. Features I found appealing is its supreme beauty; it would have been absolutely ideal and idyllic. It’s a powder-coated pipe fencing that allows the farm owner to select color, number and placement of the pipe rails for maximum safety and esthetics. Though impenetrable, using a powder-coated color makes it far more visible than the dull gray fencing I had. And with being steel, it’s unbendable. To me, it’s lovely, perfect and classic! Like much in this life that is so, it was beyond my budget, especially with steel prices being so high. If budget is not a deal breaker for you, I highly recommend this product by 440 Fence, http://www.440fence.com.
So the next windmill I tilted at was Derby Fence, http://www.derbyfence.com, fencing. Would this product be a reasonable alternative? I loved the color choices and the fact that it doesn’t break and splinter like the original PVC plastic fencing installed in the past 20 years. It’s basically a no maintenance choice and should last forever. It’s an investment but less than the 440 Fence product. When amortized over the rest of my life, I could rationalize the cost. It is an HDPE (high density polyethylene) plastic that simulates wood post and rail fencing.
Installation requires a contractor who borders on perfectionism to get things lined up and looking just right. End posts, corner posts, and gate posts, need reinforcement and installation of a steel inner sleeve. In addition, the manufacturer recommends installing a hot wire for best results to keep horses off of it in paddocks. I didn’t want this as I prefer my horses to be as relaxed as possible in their paddocks without the stress of worrying about getting too close and possibly getting zapped. I want my horses to play over the fence with each other in order to maximize their mental health during times when they need to be enclosed in their paddocks; a hot wire would not allow that. Also, I wanted a “no maintenance” product. When you look up “no maintenance” in the dictionary, you won’t find a picture of a hot wire fence.
To ensure I would be satisfied with the spacing between rails, I decided to build a life size “mock up” out of a foam product that I manufacture; this proved to be extremely helpful since I couldn’t find a local installation to view. The mock up helped seal the deal as hooves and heads could not get in trouble between the standard rail spacing.
I also decided to take my chances in not following the manufacturer’s recommendation of using a hot wire. I know my horses and thought they would be respectful of the fencing. If they run into the fence with impact, it should merely bounce them off; much like the rubber rails of a boxer’s ring.
The fencing was installed about a year ago and I’m thrilled with it! The color I chose adds a bit of historic charm to my stable. However, if you struggle seeing bird poop, horse nose moisture, or dust on the fence, I suggest a lighter color. The placement of my paddocks is several hundred feet from my home so from that distance the black always looks good and adds a touch of class to my old, renovated structure, without requiring the maintenance and painting of a wood black rail fence.
I would also offer the caveat that this HDPE material can minimally sag in the heat and sun. A disclaimer and further information is posted on Derby’s web site. If you can’t tolerate a bit of sagging, which moves during the day and disappears at sunset, this material may not be the right solution for you. It may not be as noticeable in a lighter color, or heat up as much either. Sadly, everything seems to be sagging around me a bit at this time in my life. So this characteristic causes me little concern when I am so happy overall with how the product meets my needs. Fortunately, the sag is not permanent and goes away as the product cools.
Occasionally, sagging may cause a few of the same boards to pop out of their post. However, during installation, my contractor made a slight error in rail length. As good as he was I don’t think it is solely my horses causing this issue since it’s not always a top rail popping out but rather the same boards over and over again. The boards are sixteen feet long and you alternate the seams on eight foot centers, all four boards could never pop out at the same place at the same time. It’s a minor inconvenience for me to pop them back in place; I’m sure there’s a solution if and when it becomes annoying.
If you are using this for perimeter fencing as part of your overall horse farm plan, you may want to consider hot wire. Not because I think the horses could ever break all the way through, but you want 100% assurance that your perimeter fence will stay intact. That would give it to you so you’re not always having to “ride the rails“, to ensure that fact. My paddocks are within a perimeter fenced pasture, if they got out, it would not be the end of the world as I know it. In my experience so far, it’s not a concern, but I also have really well-mannered horses and every horse owner’s situation is different.
I have trees around this material and believe if a large branch or small tree fell on it, it might collapse but not break, and the fence could be easily reinstalled. It might be a good idea to have a few extra rails on hand, should a need arise and to avoid extraordinary shipping costs to get them. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of this until after I placed my order, but so far so good.
So, like my blog on finding the perfect horse fence, for me, did I find the Perfect Paddock Fence? Like Don Quixote sang, in the musical version of his story, The Man from La Mancha: “I can dream the impossible dream.” I dreamt it and it is now my reality. So I red stamp this quest, MISSION: POSSIBLE.
To repeat what I wrote on my previous fencing blog: What is the right fence for you and your horses? List your priorities, check your budget, do your own research and make your own decision on what will work best for you. Find a great, dependable contractor who takes pride in their work and/or takes pride in your own workmanship if you are so inclined. And then rest easy knowing that your horses, too, are safely and securely contained.