Strong, Flexible, Low-Maintenance Vinyl Fencing Keeps Horses Safe

The vinyl fencing around Welch Standardbreds horse farm in Beecher, Ill. was financed not by a bank loan or a rich uncle, but by Pokagon, a three-year-old pacer who won a $200,000 race in Canada.  The purse paid for far more than the fencing.

“I can’t speak highly enough about this fence,” said owner Roger Welch, who has had experience with both wire and wooden fencing. “There’s no way a horse can get hurt; no wire to wrap around its legs, no rust.” Also, horses “will bounce right off” the vinyl fencing, he said. They’re not hurt and the fence does not break.

For all animal owners, the main objectives of fencing are safety and containment, and in many cases, vinyl is the best material, according to Chuck Huseman, president of Cedar Lake, Ind.-based FFC Fencing, which installed Welch’s fence. Huseman explained that containment is critical, but the barrier often needs to be both physical and psychological.

On the physical side, vinyl is both strong and forgiving. According to Terry and Dale Bartholomew, owners of Valley Fence LLC in Spokane, Wash., “Vinyl has five times the tensile strength of wood and four times the flexibility. It flexes under a load, making it strong enough to fence horses and cattle.”

The psychological barrier comes in the form of electrical wiring that can be attached to the fence to deliver a small shock to teach the animal to stay away, Huseman said. Vinyl fencing is particularly practical because, “unlike wood or metal, it is self-insulating and non-conductive,” he explained. The wire can run along and touch the vinyl planking, and it will not short.

Vinyl fencing can prevent avoidable accidents; its surface is smooth and it has no sharp edges. Also, vinyl will not splinter. “Traditional equestrian fencing, like you might see in Kentucky, is oak board or southern pine,” Huseman said. But he explained that, although both are hard and dense, they splinter if a horse hits them at speed. The resulting shards can be large and lethal enough to run through the chest of a horse and kill it.

Another advantage of vinyl is that horses don’t find it attractive to chew. “Chewing on fences is a symptom of pica, or depraved appetite,” Huseman said. “Horses are seeking in wooden fences some trace minerals lacking in their diet.” But chewed fences cost their owners money. “Horses can actually eat through wooden boards,” Huseman said.

Vinyl fences have a higher initial cost than more traditional fences, but their durability and low maintenance, including no need to paint, mean they cost less in the long run, Huseman said. “Wood fence boards dry, twist, pop, bow and need constant repair,” Welch said. But for him, the overarching value of his vinyl fencing is that it offers him peace of mind that his horses are safe—horses that can each be worth $100,000 or more.

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