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  #1  
Old 02-10-2006, 03:07 AM
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Building a horse fence: I welcome your advice and suggestions

OK ... I am going to build a "horse fence" in the next month or so. I thought that the group could offer some good tips and suggestions.

The fence is for looks and isn't actually going to hold back a horse. OK, at least not right now.

Here is its general specs:

-Approximately 5' tall 4X4 posts, 8' spacing (on center)
-Three 1" x 8" x 8' horizontal boards
-Boards attached with 10 penny hot zinced rough nails
-4 x 4 posts will most likely be 8' with 5.5' above ground and 2.5 under.

Haasman

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  #2  
Old 02-10-2006, 07:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haasman
OK ... I am going to build a "horse fence" in the next month or so. I thought that the group could offer some good tips and suggestions.

The fence is for looks and isn't actually going to hold back a horse. OK, at least not right now.

Here is its general specs:

-Approximately 5' tall 4X4 posts, 8' spacing (on center)
-Three 1" x 8" x 8' horizontal boards
-Boards attached with 10 penny hot zinced rough nails
-4 x 4 posts will most likely be 8' with 5.5' above ground and 2.5 under.

Haasman
You need to answer some questions first:
1) Willl this fence EVER be expected to contain animals?
2) Do I want to repair fences all the time or build it one time?
3) How much money am I willing to spend on this fence?

If the possibility is slim to none that there will ever be horses behind that fence, build whatever you want. But, if you are going to keep livestock behind it, don't cut corners and cheap-out. You will regret it.

In terms of materials, I wouldn't use wood (other than posts) if I ever intended for a fence to contain animals (pens and stalls are a different thing). Wooden rail is the most expensive fence in terms of both construction and maintenance. For a rail fence to last a reasonable period of time, you would need to use treated lumber and, while I'm no horseman, I can't imagine treated lumber would be any good for a horse if it decided to crib on the rails.

A proper horse fence is made from steel pipe. Pricy but, you only do it once. No cribbing either.

Anyway, if you insist on a rail fence, a 1" x 8" isn't heavy enough to keep a determined horse from pushing through and, a 10P nail isn't heavy enough to hold well. You should use 2" x 6" x 16' and stagger the joints. Nail with at least a 16P galv and preferably a 16P ringshank. Nail in at an angle 2x per post.

I'd also consider a single hot wire along the inside of the top rail to discourage any pushing or shoving which, since the rails are probably going to be on the outside, could eventually knock the top rail loose.

With horses, whatever you decide to do, make absolutely sure that there are no sharp edges (standing nails, splintered wood etc) on that fence or you'll find out about fencing's 'hidden costs.'
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  #3  
Old 02-10-2006, 09:32 AM
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Standard horse fence around here (Loudoun County, Virginia) has 3 or 4 horizontal boards with the posts set on 8' centers. I think the standard height is 4'. If I think of it this evening, I will put a tape measure on our own fencing.

Standard fence boards are1x6 rough-sawn oak boards. You want to stagger the joints, so you need 16' boards. The saw mill usually cuts them a few inches longer than 16' so you can cut each board to the exact right length. Definitely check that before you dig your holes! Nothing worse than having to re-dig the holes.

Use good quality, 16-penny galvinized nails with either a twist or a ring shank. The nails at Home Depot are crappy, IMHO. Look for a hardware store that sells Maze brand nails. Or find someone knowledgable about nails who can recommend a good brand.
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  #4  
Old 02-10-2006, 09:36 AM
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And another thing, we have a bunch of fencing, with various sections built by 3 different fence builders. The best fence we have had the posts driven rather than set in dug holes. A decent post driver is an expensive piece of equipment, so the do-it-yourselfer is probably stuck with digging the holes.

Just a thought.
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  #5  
Old 02-10-2006, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dculkin
Standard fence boards are1x6 rough-sawn oak boards.
This lumber would probably measure out to a real 1" x 6" where a dimension lumber 1 x 8 would measure out to be 3/4" x 7 1/2". Around here, using oak would be cost-prohibitive but, if you have access to it, oak would definitely be the way to go. Use treated lumber for posts.
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  #6  
Old 02-10-2006, 10:45 AM
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Four foot rolled field fence with heavier steel posts every 150' is fine for a working fence. It'll run $2.50 a foot installed. If appearance is the issue then the only limitation is money. The plastic, whatever it is, costs a ton and looks like plastic. Maintenance depends on your weather, but I can show you 100 year old wooden corrals that were only treated with linseed oil. If you use lots of “Penitrol” mixed with a fungicide and linseed oil for everything above ground you'll be OK for a long time if you seal the ends of the posts. Soak what goes underground with copper overnight in a garbage can, and when you set the posts mix the concrete instead of just filling the hole with dry redi-mix. Put gravel in the bottom of the holes and figure almost a small bag of redi-mix per post.
Just for looks, Home Depot has some ceder split rails that are cheap and look pretty good.
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  #7  
Old 02-10-2006, 11:18 AM
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Wow! Thanks for all the replies.

The fence, at this point, will be used to close-off the head of a driveway, with a gate in the middle.

As for actually holding animals in, probably not so it is more important to be good looking than functional.

Good catch and suggestions on the nails and their source. The fence will be white. The tops will either be cut at a diagonal or diamond.

I don't think driving the posts in will be practical so post holes will have to be dug. I was told to make them more narrow (smaller) than larger. I was planning to cover the below ground ends with an automotive spray undecoating.

Keep your ideas and suggestions coming. This is very helpful.

Haasman
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  #8  
Old 02-17-2006, 05:50 AM
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Haasman,
If permanently no horses (or other 1000lb++ critters) then go for what you like the looks of. As an FYI, white will show dusk/dirt/etc quicker so a portable pressure washer or similar will eventually be in the equation. So if you have a gravel drive, live in a dusty area, etc it may be something to consider.

Sounds like you are not having animals immediately but likely at some time in the future. So if you go cosmetic only now you may have a real problem on your hands later. IMO, better to put money towards a better product to begin with than have to waste what you did the first go round and re-do it all later.

As for strength...a horse can easily throw a 5'10"/140 lb rider *through* a 4 board, 2x6 planked, 4x4 post sunk in concrete fence. (just ask my riding instructor girlfriend and her looney thoroughbred) Flying rider splintered boards, rocked support posts loose on either side of the breech. That was just the rider...so up the physics to include 1200+/- lbs of horse.

If they want to and more importantly *know* they can, horses are going through (or over if they know how to jump). Luckily, most don't know their strength and size. I've known a mare that would just lean on a fence till it "popped" and others that would jump into and out of any pasture they wanted. They were more the exception than the rule but still, 5'+ fence height is your friend here to discourage that. The only place to uber reinforce is around the gate. 6x6 or bigger (think phone pole) with a metal gate are not uncommon. Random areas along the perimeter take FAR less abuse than the gate and the fence on 30 feet or so to each side (depending on pasture config).

As for cribbing...that is a horse behavior (actually habitual/addictive) and they will crib on anything solid (metal, wood, plastic, etc) An electric wire may discourage but you will be suprised how precise and crafty they can be to finding a way around it. I would work on fixing that with the horse rather than with the fence (ie crib collars, training methods, etc...PM me if you need specifics)

An extension of what Leo said earlier, avoid loose nails/sharp edges/etc and if at all possible keep 90 degree or smaller angles out of the pasture. Horses get cornered and BAD stuff happens.

If there are animals out there it is only responsible to walk the fence periodically to keep an eye out for loosening nails, splinters, etc. Better for the critters AND you get to see if anything is going afoul of all your hard work and $$$ before it gets bad. As the wood ages and whatnot you will get some shrinkage/warping/etc. Minor maintenance saves alot here. Don't be suprised to see bits of mane/tail/etc on spots you wouldn't expect as being high traffic...

Hope this helps...Lee
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  #9  
Old 02-17-2006, 10:55 AM
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Around here you can get a really good buy on fencing materials from some of the local feed stores. I bought a bunch to use as hand rails. Mostly consisted of 6” by 10’ treated logs which were turned on a lathe and pre cut to fit in fence poles. I paid about $6 a stick.
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  #10  
Old 02-17-2006, 12:25 PM
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If you want it to last use pressure treated lumber and stainless steel screws.
A bit expensive but worth it in the long run.
Also if it only for looks they sell a quality plastic fence that comes in white that looks great and no maintenance.
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  #11  
Old 02-17-2006, 12:39 PM
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Would screws be better than nails for this application?
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  #12  
Old 02-17-2006, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GottaDiesel
Would screws be better than nails for this application?
Screws is the way to go.
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  #13  
Old 02-18-2006, 07:22 AM
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So far the cost on the recycled/composite "wood like" stuff is about 2.5-3x pressure treated prices at the local Home Depot/Lowes. If we are talking a 25+ year endeavor then great, otherwise tough to justify.

Oh, on thing I forgot to mention on horse fencing....make sure you put the boards to the inside of the pasture. That way when someone/thing leans on them they don't just pop out. I'm sure most already know it but I'd rather nag now than...

Screws should work fine...just never seen it done on something the scale of pasture fencing. If you have the time/patience go for it!

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