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Types of Fencing for Horses

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Fencing is essential on farms.

The types of fence you choose will impact how much money you’ll spend installing and maintaining your gates, property lines, and pasture fences. The materials, size, and color affect how your property looks and the performance you ultimately get.

People want affordable fences that look nice and last.

Clydesdales horses standing near fence

If you’re keeping horses, there’s even more to consider. You need fencing that is strong enough to keep them inside and hold their weight if the horses lean on fence sections.

You also want fences that protect your horses from intruders. If a curious person walks too close to your horse, the animal or the person can be injured.

The best fencing for horses is strong, visible, and safe.

Farmers and anyone else keeping horses must balance cost and aesthetics to find the right fence for them. Horse farms often have different types of fencing in various parts of their property based on what’s happening there and what the fence is for.

Below we discuss the most popular types of fencing to help you choose the best fences for your farm. With the right fence, you’ll get peace of mind knowing your animals are safe and contained.

Barbed Wire Fence on the farm

Barbed Wire Fences Aren’t Suitable for Horses

Many people with large plots of land turn to barbed wire and similar fence materials to mark property lines and keep thick-skinned cattle from pushing through fence lines.

However, horses are more delicate, so having barbed wire fences on a horse farm is not a great idea.

Some horses love to brush up against fences or lean against fence beams to scratch places they can’t reach.

If you have a barbed wire fence, it can scratch and scar your horse. Even a small cut can lead to infections that can kill a horse.

What about farms with both cattle and horses?

Ideally, you’ll keep the cattle in pastures surrounded by barbed wire fencing, and horses will only be there when they’re with a human to herd cattle or take care of other jobs on the farm.

Instead, the horses will stay where there aren’t spikes on fences to avoid any cuts.

Building Codes

Before you start doing too much research on fencing materials and styles, check with your local building codes to see what is and isn’t allowed.

For example, some areas dictate that you can only use certain types of fencing.

Depending on where you live, you could also deal with restrictions on materials, sizes, and colors.

For instance, many places require fencing of a certain height, particularly for people who own horses. The point is to have a fence high enough to stop the animals from jumping over and causing issues in the neighborhood.

Safety Considerations With Horse Fencing

Horses are large animals, but they’re also a bit fragile. Therefore, poorly constructed fences pose a safety threat to horses.

To prevent any injuries, the fence needs to be visible, the right size, and made of suitable materials.

Here are some things to consider:


portrait of beautiful horse by the wooden fence

The height of your fencing depends on how big your horses are. You can keep ponies in pastures with short fences, and Thoroughbred or show horses need taller barriers to keep them in.

Most experts say a horse fence should be at least five feet tall to protect the horses and discourage them from trying to jump over.


Make it easy for your horse to see the fence.

Wire fences are hard to see, especially for a cantering horse. Sometimes horses will run into wire fences and cut themselves or trip.

Wood or PVC fences are a great option for horse farms: They’re easy to see and look great.

If you have wire fences, consider adding a single beam to mark it for your horses.


Kid standing near the white fence in the stable and stroking horse

How high the fence is off the ground and the space between poles or wires are big factors in choosing safe and effective horse fencing.

If the openings are too big, horses tend to get their feet and legs stuck inside.

To avoid this, ensure the space at the bottom of the fence is around 12 inches tall.

Smooth Edges on the Inside

Finally, any type of horse fencing should, whenever possible, be smooth on the side where the horses are.

Horses love to run along fence lines, and a post or joint that protrudes is an obstacle that can be hard to avoid.

You don’t want a horse running into a thick wood fence joint at high speeds.

The Best Types of Fencing for Horses

What type of fence is best for horses?

Wood Fences

A girl on cowboy clothes stands on a horse farm near wooden fence and a black horse

Usually, wood fences with smooth interior lines are the best choice for horses. It’s also the most traditional fencing for horses.

If you look online at some of the higher-end ranches across the country, you’ll typically see beautiful wooden fences lining the property.

Wood is sturdy, durable, and safe for horses.

When built correctly, a wooden fence is strong enough to hold a horse’s weight when leaning against a post or beam.

They also make training horses a lot easier because wood fences are strong enough to hold tack and people who want to sit and watch.

In addition, wood fences are usually high enough to keep horses in and people out, so they’re a good option for people who want more security without injuring their animals on barbed wire fencing.

Cost is the main disadvantage of wooden fences.

They cost a lot and can take a lot of time to install. However, they look fantastic, and once they’re in, they last for decades.

Wooden fences need regular painting and similar upkeep, and they’ll look great for years. Even when they age, they’ll give your property a beautiful rustic feel.

PVC Fencing

Three Horses standing against  white vinyl fence in the snow

Horse farmers worldwide count on PVC fencing for their horses because it’s more affordable than wood and offers comparable performance. From a distance, it’s almost impossible to tell a wood fence apart from a PVC fence.

The PVC fence, however, is lighter than wood fencing because it is hollow. The strength of the PVC makes it an excellent fencing choice for horses.

The main concern with PVC fencing is that it can yellow or crack after too much weather exposure.

However, many companies offer lifetime guarantees with their PVC fence products, and the latest fencing products are much better than in past generations.

If you’re looking for something classic like wood but have budget constraints, check out whether PVC fits the bill.

Pipe Fencing

Clydesdale Horse and Donkey Grazing Near Iron Pipe Fence in Texas Hill Country

Pipe fencing is typically made of galvanized metal. It’s strong enough to stop horses from knocking sections over, but not everyone loves the metal finish of pipe fencing.

Safety can also be a concern for horses kept in pipe fencing. The metal is so strong that it can hurt the horses if they collide with it.

A miscalculation during a jump or while running can be disastrous if the horse runs into thick metal bars that don’t budge.

The strength, weight, and durability of pipe fencing make it one of the most expensive types of fencing you can buy. However, it requires very little upkeep, so you’ll likely save money on your fence in the long run.

Mesh Fencing

Horse Standing Behind Wire Mesh Fence

Mesh fencing is a very affordable type of fencing for horses, but it needs to be built correctly to keep the animals safe.

Mesh fencing is an excellent choice for property owners who want to keep small animals out of horse pastures. You can buy wire mesh that’s small enough to keep the smallest foals inside enclosures.

There are a couple of things you need to be aware of with mesh fencing.

First, the mesh makes it easier for horse hooves to get stuck, so you should make your openings large or small enough to prevent them from getting their legs trapped.

Second, you should consider putting a top beam along any wire mesh fencing to make it easier for horses to see and bear their weight if they lean against the fence.

Electric Fencing

Horses pinch grass behind an electric fence against a village background

Electric fences aren’t for everyone, but they get the job done and discourage horses from barging into them.

If you feel like you’re always fixing broken fences or dealing with aggressive horses wanting to get out, you may want to try installing an electric fence.

Typically, it only takes a single shock to keep a horse from pushing up against an electric fence a second time. These fences are also great at keeping potential predators or trouble-causers off your property and away from your horses.

Electric fences usually require professional installation and maintenance.

Breakdowns are another issue. A single fence part breaking can take down the entire thing.

Modern electrical fencing can prevent that, but you must monitor whether the current is constantly active.

Is Smooth Wire Safe for Horses?

A herd of horses graze in a field with wife fence

Many people ask whether a smooth wire fence is safe fencing for horses. While some horse farms in the U.S. certainly use smooth wires, it’s not recommended.

Horses have a hard time seeing smooth wires. This leads to collisions and injuries that a thicker or brighter material avoids.

Smooth wire fencing is attractive because it’s so affordable, but it’s not a good choice for horses because of the injury risk. You don’t want your animals getting hurt when they run into it or lean on the wires.

It’s also relatively easy for horses to get stuck in smooth wire fences. If a leg gets tangled in the fence, for example, a horse can kick with enough force that the wire wraps around the leg and can cut through its skin.

It’s best to avoid smooth wire anywhere your horse will roam freely.

If you have smooth wire fencing on some of your property lines, make sure to keep your horses away unless they have reins or a rope on.

What Is the Most Traditional Horse Fencing?

Horses in the pasture behind the wooden fence

What about traditional fencing?

Part of owning horses is nostalgia for older times when horses and humans worked together much closer than they do today. People who have horses want their ranch or farm to look the part. The fence is a critical component of that vision.

If we have to choose, wooden fencing is the traditional fence style and material. It can make a property with horses look like it’s cut out of a Western movie poster or a high-end ranch with Thoroughbreds in training.

People rarely regret installing wooden fences despite the price. They look fantastic and last a long time.

Horse Temperament and Training

Female rider trains her horse, blurry image of the horse near fence on the background

Your horse’s personality and how well they’re trained should factor into what type of fencing you choose.

For example, docile horses are much less likely to test the fence’s strength or try to jump over it.

Newer animals or horses bred for sporting events require something taller, stronger, and easier to see.

Think about your horses and how likely they are to run full-speed into a fence or constantly push against it to see if it gives.

The more aggressive and athletic the horse, the better fence you’ll need.


beautiful white horse in the animal pen at the ranch in the village

Where you live matters in deciding what type of fence you’ll have on your property. If you have a large plot of land, you can get away with fencing that’s not as secure.

However, people who live in suburban areas or have neighbors close by will want something higher and more robust to stop horses from getting outside fence lines.

Final Thoughts

Safety, durability, and cost are typically the primary deciding factors regarding the type and style of the fence. Of course, you can never go wrong with a high-quality wooden or PVC fence, but not everyone has the money to spend on premium fencing.

Invest in the best possible fence to keep your horses safe and stop anyone from getting too close to your animals.

Check out your local building code to guarantee that anything you choose and install meets the government requirements. This will help you avoid fines or extra costs associated with switching your fence out once it’s in.