Welded drilled pipe fencing on our new barn.

Panel fencing on our main barn.

This week we finally finished construction of our new barn enough that we were able to move three of our horses into it. Our new barn is similar to a covered loafing area: five runs, each with a 12-foot x 16-foot matted "stall area" under one roof.  Runs are about 52 feet long. I thought I'd talk about paddock fencing since fencing requirements for paddocks are slightly different than those for pasture fencing--and I am excited about the fencing we chose in our new barn.

We decided to try a type of fencing that is common in our area of southwestern Idaho: recycled, welded drilling pipe. We already have panel fencing for the main barn paddocks. We like the look, sturdiness, and functionality. Panel fencing is useful because you can move it around when you need to, like to harrow paddocks to level footing or when applying additional footing. It's also very secure so you know your horses aren’t getting out--an important feature for us in our new place since the perimeter of our property isn’t fenced in yet.

A big down side to panel fencing is the high cost. That’s why for our new barn we decided on recycled drilling pipe which is welded into fencing. This came out to be a little more than half the cost of panel fencing.  Another advantage is we could size and shape our paddocks pretty much how we wanted since the fabricating was customized for us and done on site. One big disadvantage is that it's permanent and posts are cemented in the ground, so there's no changing anything afterwards. We choose to have our stall fronts be removable so we could get a tractor into the runs to smooth out footing or add more when we need it. One very attractive point to the recycled drilling pipe is just that: it’s a recycled product.

Here are some tips for choosing paddock fencing:

  • Choose the very safest fencing you can for your sacrifice area. For many types of potentially destructible fencing (wire, wood, vinyl) you may want to reinforce it with some type of electric tape to provide a "psychological barrier."  Horses are tough on fences and will test most types but they tend to have a healthy respect for electricity.
  • Be sure corners are safe and there are no protruding objects where the horse could get hurt, like bolt ends, nails, boards, or the tops of metal T-posts.  Also watch out for the corners of roofs and the bottom edges of metal building. Keep in mind that gates on fences need to be adequately sized for the types of truck deliveries you expect (such as gravel, hogfuel, hay, etc.).
  • The recommended minimum fence height for horses is four feet, six inches. A five to six foot height is recommended if paddocks are side by side to prevent horses from playing over the top of the fencing and hurting each other–or ruining your fencing.
  • Alleyways between paddock fences help keep fencing from being kicked, chewed or otherwise damaged and they solve worries about horses that may not get along.
  • When multiple horses are housed in one area, paddocks should be large enough to allow for escape. Fences can get broken and horses severely injured if they are pinned in a tight corner or chased into fencing.