Safe and Healthy Fencing: A Place Apart

In the end, remember that a pastured horse’s safety isn’t just determined by the materials and construction of the enclosing fence. Other factors to consider include his temperament and age, the number and choice of pasture mates and neighbors, the size of his pen or pasture, and the availability of foodstuffs.
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(Editor's Note: This is the first installment of a two-part series on safe, healthy fencing. Next month: Construction and Maintenance.)

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know: What I was walling in or walling out. –Mending Wall, by Robert Frost

In answer to the venerable poet's query, we must respond: The horse, Mr. Frost, the horse–and therein lies the quandary. Every horse, young or old, sooner or later, in one way or another, will match wits with a fence. A flight or fight animal which has evolved over the millennia in the wide-open spaces of prairie and steppes, with few limits to his physical freedom, the horse has minimal respect for barriers, especially when possessed by anger, sexual desire, desperation, or great fear. In fact, as many people already know, a horse in panicked flight is literally blind as he runs in terror from a perceived danger. He just doesn't see the fence.

A hopefully positive outcome for those horse-meets-fence confrontations involves many factors, the most important of which is quite simply the safety of the fence and of its materials

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Written by:

Marian Carpenter, a lifelong horsewoman and writer, is executive director of the Texas Equine Veterinary Association. She lives with her family and equine friends near Amarillo, Texas.

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