Okay, I received a random question yesterday from a potential client that went like this- “Typically, how high should one build a horse fence?” This was and still is a very good question, and is a topic that should be addressed before you dive into your farm fencing project this spring.
After nearly 30 years in the animal control fencing arena (yes- that is a play on words, sorry), I’ve seen just about every kind of animal enclosure under the sun. Horses are not the only animals on the farm these days. Exotic game and the other colorful varieties of animals I encounter each year never ceases to amaze me. This is what makes it interesting and even fun to be in this line of work- you never know what you may run into- or be running from! Yikes!! Llamas can be very territorial and can spit further than you might think!
Back to the original question- Just how high should one erect an equestrian style fence? The industry standard is a mere forty-eight inches. Yes- you heard me right! Four feet sounds impossibly low for these majestic creatures that can gallop and leap like Olympic athletes. But it is true, horses are quite visual and from what I have learned from their owners who care for them year round- they learn to respect their perimeter barriers that separates them from the dangers of the outside world. Besides, they are getting treated like kings and queens on the right side of the fence.
Larger horses naturally need fences a few inches taller. I’ve seen them as high as fifty-two to fifty-four inches off the ground. This gives the fence room for an additional board or rail to create a better visual for these gentle giants. Fences that are four feet tall are typically of the three rail or three board variety- and you will find that nearly all horse-wire distributors sell their standard field fence wire at the 48 inch mark. This is not to say that you cannot order specialty wire at a greater height for more security.
So the answer to the question is not always going to be the same; it will, in fact, be dictated by what you are trying to keep in and what you are trying to keep out! Lots of horse farms utilize a ‘dual purpose’ fence that incorporates wood and wire for two reasons: one, the board at the top gives the ‘visual effect’ needed to gain the horses attention- secondly, the wire is usually put over or under the boards to help keep unwanted critters out- like a rabid possum or fox, for example. These dual purpose specialty fences are almost always built to a height of 48 inches.
The best answer to the fence height question in my 30 years in the field is: A horse fence should be built to a minimum of 48 inches to contain and keep your horses safe and deliver you a good night’s sleep. Keep in mind this is a ‘standard’ and is certainly not chiseled in stone. Horse fence can be custom built to meet the needs of the many breeds, but think higher price along with a higher post top.