If you keep a horse in a field, you must put up a quality fence. Horses don’t just stay in the field, and wandering around free is extremely dangerous. Not only is there a big chance that the horse will get lost, but there are also predators, cars, and other dangers.
However, horse fencing can be extremely expensive, especially if you’re trying to cover a large area. It is easy to try and get away with a less-expensive fencing solution, but this may increase the odds of your horse escaping. Therefore, we recommend budgeting for this fence appropriately to ensure the safety of your horse.
The Importance of Horse Fencing
Fences perform one simple function: they keep your horse inside the field, where they are safe. Without the fence, the horse would wander. Although the horse may eventually come back (especially if they knew where the food was), escaping puts them at risk of predators and automobiles. Fences keep the horse safe while still allowing them to graze and exercise.
Many horses are extremely valuable. Therefore, it makes sense to protect them with a fence, even if the fencing is a bit expensive. No one wants anything to happen to their horse.
Horses have a very strong natural flight response. Without a fence, the horse may find themselves far from home. Furthermore, horses can also injure themselves on traditional fences—more so than other livestock. Therefore, a horse-specific fence is highly recommended. You can’t just throw up your average fence and expect everything to go well.
Most horse-safe fences are visible to the horse, such as painted wooden fencing. The horse can obviously see this fencing, so there is a lower chance that the horse will run into it. Furthermore, there is less chance for the horse to get a hoof caught in a rail fence than in a traditional wire fence.
How Much Does Horse Fencing Cost?
Horse fencing is more expensive than your average farm fencing, as horses require very visible fences. Wire fences don’t work with many horses and can increase the chance of the animal becoming injured. However, different types of fences are commonly recommended for horses. Some options are cheaper, while others may be extremely expensive.
Electric fencing is probably one of the least expensive options. The wires are very thin, so they don’t require as many posts. Many types also require less labor to install, lowering the price even more. However, this fencing probably isn’t the best option, as it isn’t highly visible. It costs about $1.67 per foot.
A wooden horse fence will likely cost around $5 to $10 a foot. This fencing is much more expensive than an electric fence, but it is often the cheapest recommended fence. It is very visible and has a low chance of injuring the horse, even when spooked.
You can also purchase vinyl or PVC fencing, which costs around $7 to $12 per foot. This fencing is very similar to wood. However, it doesn’t require as much maintenance and may last longer.
Pipe fencing is the most expensive option, but it also lasts the longest. Because it is very hard, there may be a slight increase in injury, however. Plus, it costs around $10 to $15 per square foot.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
There are several costs you’ll have to anticipate when purchasing a horse fence. You need to consider the cost of materials, which varies depending on what you’re using. In all likelihood, you’ll need to purchase commercial materials. You could technically make your own wooden fence, but by the time you calculate the materials and cost, you aren’t saving much.
Plus, horse-specific fences are made for horses. Therefore, they are already the correct dimensions and don’t require adjusting as a homemade fence may.
On top of materials, you’ll need to pay installation costs. If you install the fence yourself, you may spend much less. The installation cost can be almost as much as the materials, if not more, in some cases. Many people may decide to install the fence with minimal professional help to lower costs. However, the time investment can be substantial.
Factors That Affect the Cost of a Horse Fence
Many factors affect the cost of a horse fence. Adjusting any of these parameters will affect the final price you have to pay for a fenced-in pasture.
As we described above, various fences cost different amounts. Vinyl or metal fences are the most expensive but have the most staying power. Therefore, they may cost you more upfront but cost you less over time. Wire fences are the cheapest, but they are also the most dangerous and need to be fixed often. Usually, more expensive fencing types are also more aesthetically pleasing.
Longer fences will often cost more overall than shorter ones. However, their cost per foot may be lower, especially if you’re using a professional installer. Most professionals will have a base cost that you have to pay and a per-foot cost if your fence is particularly long. However, it is usually cheaper per foot for them to install a very long fence since the base costs remain the same.
Still, longer fences will almost always cost more than shorter ones. You need more material, and it takes longer to install.
The height of the fence also affects the cost. More materials are needed for the same amount of fencing, which leads to higher costs for you. You’ll usually need at least a 5 ft fence for it to be effective. However, you also have to consider the breed of horse you have. Some horses are much taller than others, and they may need a taller fence.
You can save money by getting a shorter fence. However, don’t skimp on the height too much, as a shorter fence may not keep the horse in.
If the area is very hilly or has some complicated features, you can expect to pay more for installation. Soil that is very hard requires more work to dig post holes, and it may be difficult to get the fence straight if the terrain differs a lot. While this usually doesn’t add to costs too much, it may if your land is particularly hard to work with.
If you install your fence, you may save quite a bit of money. Longer fences require more work to install, saving you more money on installation if you go the DIY route. However, it will take most people longer to install a fence than a professional. Plus, there is an increased chance that you may mess up the fencing. Therefore, we highly recommend being cautious regarding going the DIY route.
You also have to consider what you could do instead of installing a fence. If you are taking days off work to install it, consider the money you could be making during that time. It may end up being cheaper to hire a professional.
Digging holes for the posts is one of the biggest uses of labor during a fence installation. Some fences require a lot of posts, which increases the amount of digging required. The season and weather you install the fence in can change the amount of time each hole takes to dig. If it is warmer, digging the holes is often much less of a challenge. However, if the ground is frozen, you may spend quite a bit more on labor.
We recommend waiting to install the fencing at an opportune time if possible. However, you can’t always accomplish this. Sometimes, you need a fence as quickly as possible.
If you have horses on your land, you have to get a horse fence. A regular livestock fence won’t work, even though they are typically cheaper. Horses tend to spook more than other animals, which can lead to injuries in traditional wire fences. For this reason, you often have to invest in a wood, vinyl, or metal fence for the horses’ safety.
While installing one of these fences can be expensive, we don’t recommend trying to cut corners. Getting a shorter fence or installing the fence yourself when you don’t know how can lead to more problems down the road. The modern world is a dangerous place for horses, and a quality fence is necessary to protect them from it.
Featured Image Credit: Jennay Hitesman, Shutterstock