When choosing the right fencing for your horse paddock, there are many options available to you. However, no one type of fence is suitable for every horse, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages.
Whatever material you choose, it must be safe, providing a secure barrier to contain your horses and keep out unwanted intruders.
Points to Consider When Choosing Fencing
Good fencing allows you to control your grazing and segregate different groups of horses such as geldings, mares and foals, yearlings and stallions.
First, there are a few points you need to consider when choosing the right type of fencing for your horse paddock.
Horse Fencing Cost
Cost is a significant factor. You need to consider not only the initial layout but the maintenance of the type of fencing you choose and how much it will cost in both time and money.
Here is a cost handy table for each type of horse fencing.
Type of Fencing
Cost Per Foot (Excluding Posts)
|Wooden Post & Rail||$5 – $12|
|Vinyl or PVC Post and Rail||$5 – $10|
|Wire Mesh||$0.2 – $0.6|
|Electric Fencing||$0.1 – $0.3|
|Steel Pipe Rail||$7 – $11|
Horses run and jump around when they are out in the paddock. If they are unable to see the fence, they could run into it risking injury.
You must choose fencing that is visible to a horse and appears as a solid barrier, making them less likely to challenge it.
Horses may try and jump out over the paddock fencing, so it should be high enough to deter this.
Terrain and Weather
Many people fail to consider the terrain, soil and weather when choosing paddock fencing, but they are vital factors.
Some fence materials can weather all climates, whereas others can only withstand moderate temperatures. Wooden fencing is unsuitable for a paddock prone to flooding as it will eventually rot.
Type of Horses Contained
If you have older horses, they are most likely not interested in getting out, so the strength of the fence is less important. A paddock containing young, active horses requires one that is robust and durable, possibly electrified, to discourage them from trying to escape or run into it.
If you have foals or miniature horses, it is wise to add woven wire fencing with small openings to prevent little hooves from becoming trapped.
Size of Paddocks
If you have large paddocks with good grazing, your horses are likely to roam around and not test the fencing. Smaller paddocks require sturdy fencing.
Qualities of Safe Horse Fencing
The horse naturally flees from danger, and this influences the design of the fence. What works for other livestock like sheep and cows is often unsuitable for equines.
The real test of a fence is one that doesn’t cause injury or breaks should a horse run into it. Ideally, the fencing has some “give” to minimize harm on impact and made from high-quality materials. It needs to be durable so it can withstand all weather elements and free from hazards like sharp edges.
Ideally, you want an attractive looking fence but never compromise on aesthetics over safety. Fencing is a considerable capital investment and requires careful planning.
It is recommended you use a professional installation company who are familiar with the needs of the horse. A fence adequately installed will last a long time, so you must choose the right one.
Good, quality fencing that is aesthetically pleasing but safe can increase the value of your property.
5 Types of Horse Pasture Fence
Consider each one carefully and whether they are suitable for your horses and property.
Wooden Post and Rail
Wooden post and rail fencing have long been a traditional choice for horse owners. They have an attractive appearance, are highly visible, providing a safe, solid barrier between paddocks. The type of wood you choose depends on local availability, but cedar or treated wood are the most durable choices.
Three or four evenly spaced planks or rails are typically constructed, screwed or bolted on the inside (horse side) rather than nailed.
This type of fencing is expensive to purchase and install. It needs regular maintenance to prevent rot, and damaged boards replaced. Staining and painting the fence can prolong its lifespan and creosoted posts last for several years. Some horses may rub or chew on wood, causing damage.
Excluding installation, posts, and depending quality, wooden post and rail fencing can cost between $5 – $10 per foot (Source: Home Advisor).
Vinyl or PVC Post and Rail
Vinyl or PVC post and rail fencing offers the same attractiveness and high visibility as traditional wood but without some of the downsides that timber brings.
They are available in a range of colors and designs with the most prominent advantages being easy installation and little maintenance. There is no painting or staining, but they do need washing occasionally to keep them clean. Other benefits are that they last longer than wood and horses don’t tend to chew on them.
There are downsides to this type of fencing as well. It is expensive to install and not as strong as wood. The rails can pop out if horses rub on them so you may consider using an electric line with it for extra reinforcement.
Excluding installation, posts, and depending quality, PVC post and rail can cost between $5 – $10 per foot.
Wire Mesh Fencing
Wire mesh fencing is one of the more affordable options. It is easy to maintain and most forgiving if a horse should run into it. This type of fencing is also useful for keeping out small, unwanted predators like dogs. The most suitable types of wire mesh for a horse paddock are no climb and diamond v-mesh.
No climb is a steel wire knotted together to form two by four-inch openings. V-mesh is two wires twisted together to form two by four-inch diamond-type shapes.
Both are strong, durable, and rigid while flexible being extremely safe when installed properly. Always use grade 3 galvanized steel.
Wire mesh fencing requires strong wooden posts every six to ten feet to secure and tighten the wire. However, wire mesh is not so visible to horses compared to another fencing, so use a top rail or flagging tape for extra visibility. You can also combine with hot wire to keep horses away from the fence.
Excluding installation, posts, wire mesh fencing typically costs between $0.2 – $0.6 per foot.
Electric fencing works as a psychological barrier rather than physical, producing a mild shock should a horse touch the fence. It is safe and economical as both permanent and temporary fencing, available in both braided and tape forms of various widths.
For extra visibility, use flagging tape. Lightweight with easy movability, this type of fencing is useful for dividing areas for rotational grazing and creating paddocks. Very little maintenance is required but does need regular inspections.
Electric fencing works best when combined with other fencing types making them safer and longer lasting. Horses are prevented from chewing, cribbing and rubbing against post and rails and fighting with their over the fence neighbors.
When installing electric fencing, make sure you use the correct fencing materials, controller units and ground rods.
Excluding installation, posts, electric rope fencing typically costs between $0.1 – $0.3 per foot.
Steel Pipe Rail Fencing
Steel pipe rail fencing has become increasingly popular with horse owners as it is incredibly durable and long-lasting. It is available in plain, galvanized, and coated steel and can be used as permanent fencing or as separate panels.
Steel fencing is expensive to buy and install so might be a good option for those wanting a portable fence or round pen. Once installed, it requires very little maintenance.
Steel fencing is robust and provides no give should a horse run into it. However, as it has high visibility, incidents are minimal although horses can get their heads or legs trapped in between the rails. Insulators are now available to string hot wire along fence panels making it safer.
Excluding installation, posts, steel pipe rail fencing typically costs between $0.2 – $0.6 per foot.
Other Fencing Options
Other fencing options include HTP line fencing and barbed-wire fencing. However, we very strongly recommend not to use these types of fencing. They are thin & sharp metal wires which can’t be seen easily by horses and can cause great harm.
Horse Pasture Fencing FAQs
Is barbed wire safe for horses?
Barbed wire is unsuitable for horse paddocks as it has dangerously sharp edges which can result in serious injury.
What is the cheapest horse fencing?
Electric wire is one of the cheapest materials used for horse paddock fencing and is extremely easy to install.
What is the safest fencing for horses?
Diamond v-mesh and no-climb mesh wire fences are considered one of the safest fence materials for horses.
How tall should horse fencing be?
The ideal height for horse fencing is between 4 ½ feet to 5 feet tall, possibly up to 6 feet high for larger horses and stallions. The bottom of the fence should be around 6 to 12 inches off the ground.
What is the best type of gate for a horse paddock?
The best type of gate is one that has a square steel frame with a mesh interior to prevent a horse from getting its leg caught through the rails.