Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday encore ~ Ranch Tour: The fence

Yesterday's weather was glorious and I was able to finish fencing the new pasture. But by the time I was done, I had run out of steam and couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to write a fresh post, so instead I'll repeat this fence post.

When it comes to choosing a fence to contain horses, I strongly believe the key points to consider are: 1) safety, 2)safety and 3) safety. And that’s why I used electric tape fencing at the 7MSN, specifically Horseguard.

I love my fence...all 2.25 miles of it.

I could have done what all the other ranchers around here have done...

But all I can think about when I look at barbed wire and bare-top t-posts is an accident waiting to happen, and the reality that vets don’t make farm calls in the middle of nowhere.

So I had my contractor construct the corner pipe posts and braces and pound in all the t posts (around 800), then I took it from there.

I attached the connectors and t-post tops, then strung and stretched the tape. It wasn’t hard, just tedious. But it kept me out of trouble for many weekends while the house was being built.

The Horseguard tape contains 10 strands of stainless steel to conduct the electricity. Apparently stainless steel doesn’t corrode, as does copper. The connectors are made of UV-resistant plastic.

The t-post tops cover the chest-impaling steel and serve to hold the top strand of tape.

The tape is easily spliced with stainless steel thingamajigs. Overall, the design and engineering of every component of the Horseguard system never ceases to amaze me (and nobody is paying me to say this). Understand that I know nothing about electricity, other than it scares the bejesus out of me. But I figured out how to build the darned thing, and it worked from day one.

This is my very sophisticated power switch. Makes me feel a little like Dr. Frankenstein when I turn it off and on.

The horses and burros sense the current and don’t get near the fence. This handy-dandy tester lets me know it’s working.

The only downside to this fence that I’ve encountered is lightning. The instruction manual clearly states “unplug the charger during electrical storms.” During the first big storm of this past summer, I got so preoccupied watching the rain that I forgot to do that. And wouldn’t you know...lightning struck the fence. It blew out the fuses in the fence charger and the power surge fried my computer, which was not plugged in to a sufficiently large surge protector. That was a lesson learned the hard way.

Anyone who has horses in their life knows what a challenge it is to keep them healthy and safe. If there's a way to hurt themselves, they'll find it. I sleep better at night knowing that the boys are contained within the safest fence I could find.


  1. What a great fencing job!

    I witnessed a t-post impaling when I was just a kid, and it wasn't pretty. 600 stitches later and the neighbor's enormous QH lived to tell the tale. Missed his heart by just enough to not kill him on the spot, the vet said.

    You are a good horse, burro, goat, pig, kitty, dog and chicken mom, Carson! (Hope I didn't leave any critters out...) :)

  2. Looks pretty neat! Will have to bring this to the attention of my sis. She may already read your blog, but will send her the link so she doesn't miss it.


  3. I've always said that a good fence is a reflection of a good farm.

    Tape looks nice, but doesn't work well in WI with sticky, heavy, wet snows. Saggy tape looks sloppy. I use Electrobraid.

  4. I bought the 800 foot "starter kit" from Horseguard way back when I was trying different alternatives. I had babies (horses) at the time, and only 13 acres, so I opted for 2X4 horse-safe steel mesh fencing, but I use the Horseguard as a topper along the driveway, as it has a nice appearance. (Other places I use the poly rope.) The Horseguard is VERY sturdy--it has stood up to the weather and the horses (and being wadded up on the barn floor at times) for over 9 years now!

  5. All good to know - thanks for reposting. I missed it. From one who has owning larger critters in the back of her mind...

  6. I hope you're planning to relax and enjoy today - you deserve it.

  7. This would be my idea of ideal fencing for us to have. I was told their bi-polar fencing is fantastic. We aren't allowed to use it on our property because we are in what is considered a residential area. yeah, right...but our neighbors have barb-wire fencing. Go figure.

  8. What an Amazing job you have done---It was Daunting, to say the least---But you did a splendid job!! BRAVA, to you, my dear.....

    And my deepest thanks for your kind and caring words....It means a great deal to me, my dear.

  9. My hubby and I have had Horseguard fencing on our property for over 10 years, and with very minimal maintenance, it still looks as great as the day we finished it. We selected Horseguard after quite a bit of research, and have never looked back.
    Not sure I could have done the parts you completed on my own though.
    Good job!

  10. I have always loved that wide tape. It is perfect for large critters, but I think that sometimes cottle will go through it- no matter the pain. Goats go under- but then to hold a goat, the container must also hold water:).
    Thanks for putting it out there- hopefully some un informed owner will choose the tape over the wire, and you will have saved a life!

  11. is your charger reading 4000 volts? that is what mine reads when i have it on the low setting. i'm afraid to turn it up to high because then my tester reads 10,000 volts and that is scary. your tester seems to say 6000 is very high. aha. good i'll leave it on low.

    like you i have t posts every three meters and 2 strands of electric (rope) and i left out the lower third because i mow under my fence and don't want to run into a wire. i just can't keep a shetland here, he'd walk right under it.

    wish i had a cool on off switch like yours!

    building a fence has been the most rewarding thing about buying this place, and removing the barbed wire (that will never come back like the blackberries do) was the greatest feeling, i'm an expert now: ) i did not like having to pay to have it taken away though by the scrap metal collector.

    the cool thing is tposts are very rare in germany, and i've had people stop me and inquire about them. we are the innovators on our block for horse fencing, *lol*, with american practicality.

    ~lytha in germany

  12. We have PVC fencing lined with two strands of electric tape. That stuff is great. PVC alone doesn't work too well for us - the horses can easily kick out a panel. With the electric tape they don't go near the fence. Like you, I cringe every time I see horse confined behind barbed wire.

  13. Thanks for the post on the electric fencing. Very interesting. We don't use barbed wire either. Very scary stuff around animals. We used pipe across the front and the field fence around the rest of the property and so far no accidents. (crossing my fingers!).

  14. Carson, You are such a hard worker who does right for your animals!

    Speaking of fences, I saw a neat article from the Denver Post in today's local paper: Training Wild Horses for Border Patrol. The mustangs are being trained by Colorado prison inmates. I thought you would appreciate. And we live in border states... Carol

  15. Linda, you are one of the most ingenious and determined people I have ever "met." I am duly impressed and amazed.

  16. Good Job! We have the same fence, but in white tape. I just have to tighten up the tape a bit once in a great while. We tend to have days of high wind in these parts. We put it up over 10 years ago, and have had minimal maint.

  17. Wow!! 2.25 miles of it!! That's a lot of electric fencing.

    I saw the words 800 t-posts and broke out in a sweat. I tore up my shoulder pound in just 15 for my chicken run. I'm guessing you don't have a rock every 1/2 inch and your contractor has some magic pole driver??

    It looks wonderful and is perfect in form and function.

  18. I have never heard that the current should be turned off during an electrical storm. I'm going to have to remember that from now on. We get lots of those storms here and I've never given them much thought as far as my fencing goes. Guess I've been lucky so far but I sure don't want to push it. Thanks for the tip,

  19. Ha! A fence post. Snort.

  20. I too love the electric fencing that we use - I think it may be Horseguard (can't remember) - it is at least 2" wide, and all stainless steel. It has held up great, very easy - I just tighten it a few times a year as we are on top of a mountain and get quite a bit of wind at times. They sell "lightening arrestors" which are mounted along the fence line to allow the strike to "jump" and ground via one of the poles, and also they make one to put between your charger (I use a large solar) and the fence. In the event of the strike, you will have to replace the "arrestor fuse" (a piece of wire) but it protects your components. I like the electric a lot, and the horses really respect it. Do you have many problems due to the dryness in your area? I would think you would have to have really good (large) ground rod system to compensate for the dry ground?

    Chris in KY