Before even beginning the construction of a wooden fence, numerous factors must be taken into consideration.
In fact, an optimal planning is necessary to ensure stability, viability and long life for the future fence. It is obviously necessary to analyse the general questions related to the terrain, but mainly thinking in particular of the horses’ safety.
1. Field or paddock?
The destination of the fence will have a major influence over its conception, especially as far as the impregnating substance is concerned. What does this mean exactly? The process of impregnation involves injecting under high pressure a product into the empty cells of the wood. This allows us to protect it for a relatively long time against bad weather, fungi and insects. Even if the method remains the same, the choice of the product is dictated by the purpose of the future fence. There are three main protective strategies:
- Creosote offers without doubt the best possible protection – for a lifespan between 15 and 20 years. Apart from that, it stops the horses from gnawing on the fence; that prolonging its life. This type of impregnation turns the wood dark brown and usually is prescribed for fields and pastures. Because of its potential to irritate the skin, the use of this product must be avoided in places of high contact with the public.
- Salt (green olive colour) or coloured salt (chestnut brown) offer shorter protection – approximately 7 to 10 years. This product is completely safe and therefore is usually prescribed for the lunging rings, for paddocks and other high-contact areas.
- The impregnation with salt and creosote base combines the advantages of both above-mentioned methods. The most vulnerable part of the post, its lower part, is best protected by creosote. The part most likely to enter in contact with the skin is impregnated with salt or coloured salt. It would be however necessary to equip the fence with electric wire in order to stop the horses from biting it.
2. Is it only for horses?
It would be of course important to adapt the fence to the animal species it will protect. If there are only horses to graze within it, the simple wooden fence, possibly electrified, would be sufficient. Otherwise, it would be necessary to equip the lower part of the fence with a trellis. It would stop smaller animals from coming under the fence.
3. With or without electric wire?
Wooden fencing offers many advantages compared to electric fences: the horses cannot tangle themselves into and would not risk any injury. Equally, the risk of the horses escaping is limited: the fence’s beams form an impressive visual barrier, which is not the case of the electric fences where the wires can even come undone. The electric fence is also less viable, for example if the battery runs out.
If we want to benefit from the advantages of the two types of fence, it is indeed possible to equip the wooden beams with electric wire. This would require however greater cost and effort.
4. For what kind of horses?
During the planning of the fence, one needs of course to know what kind of horses will be sheltered within. In fact, the height, the number of beams etc depend on the size of the horses, their body characteristics, their temperament, their strength etc.
In general, the height of the fence should be 4/5 of the height of the biggest horse taken up to the back base of its neck.
The state of the terrain
The state and the specific features of the ground should also be taken into consideration when planning the fencing of a pasture field. It is impossible to work in the same way on a dry terrain as on humid ground. Equally, it’s necessary to think about special solutions if the ground is too steep or if there are big roads in great proximity.
5. Quality of the soil
To ensure that the fence is solid, it is imperative to force the posts deeply enough in the soil: to a minimum of a third of their full length. The holes can be dug with an auger. If the soil is particularly soaked or mobile, it is sometimes necessary to pour cement at the base of the posts.
6. Sloping terrain
When choosing the gate, it is important to think about the sloping of the ground. If the slope is too steep, it is important to avoid big gates and to prefer two smaller ones.
7. Nearby roads
If there are roads in immediate proximity, you may be interested in adding a security feature, possibly a padlock. It may be also better to choose a gate that opens towards the inside of the field, to avoid blocking the passing traffic.
Choosing the fence
8. Type of wood
In order to choose well the type of wood, we must know what style of posts you would like: milled, square or peeled. The quantity of sapwood – the part of the wood that can be impregnated – varies according to the type of wood. Spruce usually contains very little. It is therefore very good for the peeled posts. For the milled or the square ones we need much more sapwood content. During their production, 40% of the wood is usually lost to produce regular posts. In such cases we recommend pine.
9. Number of beams
The number of beams is obviously determined by the height of the fence. As it was explained earlier, the fence’ height depends on the type of horses living on the fenced field. Here are the options:
- Fence height 130 cm à 2 beams
- Fence height 155 cm à 2 or 3 beams
- Fence height 185 cm à 3 or 4 beams
10. Single or double gate?
The simple single gate offers an opening of up t 3m50cm. It is very useful for entering into a lunging ring or a paddock, as the rider can hold on to the horse with one hand and open the gate with another. This opening would also allow access occasionally by a tractor.
For pastures and places that need to be accessed by big farming vehicles like harrows or combine harvesters, the opening must be of at least 4 meters, ideally provided by a double-opening gate.
Please note that the type of terrain (as explained above) is also to be taken into account when choosing a gate.
Finding a good team of professionals
One must admit that we don’t undertake lightly the building project of your wooden equestrian fence. It is imperative to plan it in he smallest of detail, for a truly positive result.
This is why we need proper professionals. Companies like Peter Müller have a compelling experience in the field, but also with added tailor-made tools that help the production and installation of the fence with greatest precision.
For more than 30 years Peter Müller has been your partner in the production of equestrian fences.
Contact us for a no-obligation quote!