Is Barbed Wire Fencing Safe For Horse Pastures?
 By Valkyrie   •   22nd Oct 2011   •   32,304 views   •   30 comments
Barbed WireRecently I’ve seen a lot of members who have formed a lynch mob and are going around sneering at and jeering other members who have barbed wire fencing. This is immature and heavy-handed behaviour. I myself was a victim of one of these members and did not appreciate their holier-than-thou attitude. I have no choice in the fence they were berating me about. That fence is there for safety reasons (my neighbour owns young bulls, which are extremely unpredictable). That is the ONLY barbed wire fence on my property (the rest are all wood or wood and mesh).

Yes, barbed wire is bad for horses if the horse becomes tangled. But horses only become tangled if loose sands are left to coil on the ground or the wires are loose. In many cases barbed wire is a lot safer than simple wire, as the horses soon learn the barbs are sharp and uncomfortable and will avoid it, whereas normal wire teaches them nothing. I once had normal wire fence for my Standardbred and she would lean over it and into it all the time, cutting her neck and chest. When we moved her to our current property she left the boundary fence alone once she realised it wasn’t comfortable to touch it.

Wood wouldn’t work with that horse, either. She broke a wooden fence leaning into it. It was a brand new fence, built by my father who was a builder for many years in his youth. It wasn’t rotting, or loose, or shoddily put together like the lovers of wooden fences state about accidents concerning them. She was simply too heavy and didn’t respect it. The way it snapped I’m lucky she didn’t impale herself.

The truth is, some types of fencing won’t work for some horses. My friend once had a horse who cunningly used her cover to lean on electric fences so she wouldn’t get shocked. That same friend had a miniature horse with a penchant for jumping wooden fences but wouldn’t go near a wire one. I know horses who’ve cribbed wooden ones and have to be paddocked with a wire fence to protect their teeth. And yet others who don’t respect wire and have to be paddocked with wooden. I’ve seen horses in deer fencing, or with stone walls, or with hedges. There are many types of fencing. It’s what works for your horse in your situation that matters, not what a bunch of do-gooders think.

Every fencing is dangerous. If horses get a fright they are going to run into the fence no matter what type it is. They aren’t going to slam on the brakes and think ‘oh wait, it’s wood, my master says that’s really safe so I shouldn’t break it.’ And they aren’t going to speed up going ‘wire! Must... get... tangled! Must kill myself!’

It is expensive to replace fencing, and a lot of us are young and have to rely on our parents, or board our horses somewhere. And if they say ‘no’ to changing fencing because it costs too much then don’t worry, it’s not your fault. The ignorant people on here shouldn’t be calling you lazy and irresponsible, especially if they don’t know your situation. Often we don’t have a choice in what our horses are fenced in.

If you don’t have a choice in your fencing, then there are ways to make barbed wire as safe as possible.

1. Like any wire, barbed can be invisible to horses at night, so if you can, get a fluorescent wire or tape and run it around the perimeter, or tie bits of it at frequent intervals.

2. Keep the wire taunt so that sagging bits won’t catch your horse.

3. Replace any rusty bits and do a perimeter check often to make sure there are no loose wires.

4. Use as many strands as possible to make a proper boundary and so your horse won’t think of ducking under it or jumping it.

5. Tie coloured tape to the top wires so the horse can see the wire is there.

My barbed wire fence (the boundary) has many little posts spaced along it at half-metre intervals. It helps my girls recognise that there are no gaps to run through. If possible, stable or yard your horses at night. Nighttime is when the fence will be most invisible.

6. Wrap your horse’s legs and put a cover on them when they are in the paddock. If they do somehow get tangled the damage will be less, if at all.

7. Run an electric wire or tape along the inside of the fence and keep it hot all the time, your horses will avoid it, especially if the electric fence ticks loudly.

Barbed wire can be used to successfully and painlessly keep a horse, despite what others on this site may think. Here in New Zealand we do not have fancy barns and stables everywhere with white wooden fences and pretty stone walls. Sure, there are places like this around, mostly professional stud farms. But a lot of our horses are kept on cattle properties by hobby riders, which are more often than not fenced with barbed wire. But the owners of the horses and cattle aren’t “stupid” or “lazy” or “irresponsible.” They check boundaries constantly and do fence maintenance where necessary. I should know, my parents used to dairy farm and my dad is now a farm consultant. I have never seen any accidents in all my 19 years involving barbed wire. It doesn’t mean I won’t see any, and it certainly doesn’t mean barbed wire is safe beyond a doubt. But when properly taken care of barbed wire isn’t the devil.

It all comes down to knowing your horse. If your horse doesn’t respect wire fencing, then by all means keep them in wooden fencing. If they run around and get silly and don’t think, then keep them in safer fencing. But if they’re smart and respect wire then there is no reason why barbed wire can’t be used to contain them.

At the end of the day, if a horse is going to get hurt on a fence it doesn’t matter what kind of fence it is they run into, they’re still going to get hurt. It’s up to us to make sure they respect fences, no matter what kind.

I do not condone barbed wire usage. I’m not saying everyone should go out and use it and that it’s okay and safe. I’m saying that anything with horses can be dangerous, but there are ways to make it safer if we can’t afford to replace it.
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T W I  
While I believe that barbed wire can definitely pose a safety hazard, I agree with you that in certain situations, it is the best alternative.
Sounds like you were one of those situations and I'm sorry to hear that people were ganging up on you about it.
  Oct 22, 2011  •  25,811 views
And here we go....people who support bad horsemanship and all around dangerous fencing. If you're going to be cheap, don't own horses. Simple.

Barbed wire is dangerous. Dangerous. Dangerous. (Just in case you didn't see the first "dangerous".) we go again.

"I have heard a LOT of excuses for still having horses out on barbed wire:

One. My horses are “smart” and don’t go near the fence.
Two. My horses have never been hurt on it.
Three. We have too much acreage to change the fence.
Four. It’s only temporary until I find another place to board.
Five. It’s the only place I can afford to keep my horses.
Six. I rent and they won’t let me change the fence.
Seven. The horses are out with the cows so we have to have barbed wire.
Eight.But everyone in my area has their horses out on barbed wire!

I have heard it all. You are not going to come up with a new excuse, trust me. Not a single one of these excuses is valid. If you own a thousand acres, fen
  Oct 22, 2011  •  27,124 views
uh, It is kind of still bad... no matter how many saftey precaustions there are there is always that one in a million chance...
  Oct 22, 2011  •  25,749 views
All That Jazz  
I've never liked barbed wire, and personally won't ever use it, but I do like how you had safety precautions and whatnot in your article. :)
  Oct 22, 2011  •  27,127 views
Okay here's my opinion. Barbed wire is definately a no-no at a high performace barn for two reasons.
1) is capable of ripping up horses and giving them cosmetic scars that decrease the value of a horse. Resulting in them not being able to show as well or sell as well.I used to have barbed wire until it cut one of my horses. Every person who comes to look to buy him asks what happend to his leg.

2)Connecting to said above, it is not very pretty and unprofessional.

BUT! when used to fence a massive area it could be way more useful than traditional "white fencing". (fast fact: barbed wire was invented out in the midwest during the cattle runs to keep the herds from trampling/eating crops) As long as the horse is able to see it, its fine by me. But I would advise not putting barbed wire on lower strings where a horse could stick their foot over/under it.

Come on guys. POLITELY ask why something is the wa
  Oct 22, 2011  •  27,160 views
I really like this news post and I TOTALLY agree with you!
  Oct 22, 2011  •  27,125 views
Que Sara  
Great article Perdedora!!

Hopefully the people that do have to use barbed wire as fencing, or have no choice to will now not have to avoid coming on here in the fear of having pieces vocally torn off them.

I myself have no objections to any type of fencing. If it does it's job of keeping intruders out and the horses in then it is a job well done. No matter what it is constructed of.

I think the same as you and have repeated it several times, by it's very nature, any type of fencing can be classed as hazardous if not used correctly.
  Oct 23, 2011  •  25,762 views
This is a very fair post.
  Oct 23, 2011  •  26,742 views
Valkyrie   MOD 
Thankyou to those of you who have disagreed, but have stated your opinions in the comments in a mature fashion.

You are all, of course, correct that barbed wire can be dangerous. And I agree it shouldn't be used around horses. But when properly maintained it can be no more dangerous than any other fence if your horse isn't a silly, highly-strung escape-artist.

A fence is a fence.
  Oct 23, 2011  •  26,751 views
Yes I have to say if you have barb wire fencing in ONLY one part of your farm because of like in your case young bulls yes, but as long as you keep the fence tight and kept up. Oh and even if well kept up horses too are unpredictable and may spook right into the fence so if I were to take sides it would be no. There is no way to prevent a horse from cutting its self unless you are ALWAYS watching it, which I don't think most people do that. Just sit on a chair and watch their horse, and yell STOP when coming near it. And there are MANY economical fencing choices out there!
  Oct 23, 2011  •  26,775 views
All through cow country in WY and MT the horses are fenced with barbed wire. Most have a cut above their hock or on their forehead, but very few have more than one.

For an operation that just has horses, mostly any wire is a bad idea. In the case of cows, rams and even billies barbed wire is the right decision.

Barbed wire keeps humans safe. Believe me, cows will not always move off a highway. And once you hit one, your car, you and the cow are probably gone.
  Oct 23, 2011  •  28,549 views
Very good article. I don't care for barbed-wire fencing, but I am not totally against anyone who uses it. This was very needed. Thank you. :3
  Oct 23, 2011  •  26,743 views
Dark Star  
No. Barb wire should NEVER be used to keep horses in. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES. No matter the excuse, I have an answer.
1. I board my horse, and they have barb wire fencing. - Move barns.
2. My horse has never been hurt by it - It only takes once to cost your horse a lot.
3. My horse won't go near the fence - Again, It would only take 1 time.
4. We can't afford any other fencing - 2 answers to this - (a.) Fencing is cheaper then vet bills. (b.) If you can't afford adequate fencing, you don't need a horse.

Any other excuses, I have an answer, feel free to test it.

I have seen a very bad thing happen with barb wire fencing. I have found a horse that bled to death cause he was put out in the same barb wire pasture he had been in for 7 years and never been hurt by it, but somehow he got caught in it and he freaked out, ripping himself to pieces, til finally it cut one of his major arteries and he bled to death.

My mare, Dee, was put in a barb wire fence before we had her, and s
  Oct 24, 2011  •  28,117 views
Run Free  
i totally agree that every fencing is dangerous but barbed wire is one of the most dangerous. yes sometimes you dont have a choice but try to avoid it when possible. i do understand that some horses dont respect fencing and it is needed to keep them in just make sure it is obvious that it is there to your horses.personally my favourite type of fencing is electric wire but that is quite dangerous too if it has too much or not enough bolts in it!
  Oct 24, 2011  •  26,788 views
Thanks for writing an article about this. I'm one of those people who really don't have a choice in fencing. It can be dangerous though.
  Oct 24, 2011  •  26,773 views
I agree with Spyricle when they say that this debate is getting us nowhere. I think that its only getting us mad at each other and posting very rude comments. I sincerelly apologize to Spyricle for some nasty words on my end. What I've come to conclude is that Barbed wire can cause serious medical wounds to our equine friends. But some find that it is neccesary in the financial/geological/political situation that they are in. I've devised a pole if any body wants to be humored by it, please vote. I hope fellow Ponyboxers will join me in not judging you by your vote
-Thanks a lot
  Oct 24, 2011  •  26,779 views
City on the Hill  
A fence. You people are fighting over a fence. And just to be annoying I shall join the argument. No, I don't own horses, but my friend does. Three sides of my friends pasture is a wood fence, and one side is barbed wire. They couldn't afford to replace it all, so they did as much as they could. We have wild dogs and coyotes in our area, and middle of winter one of them chased one of their horses straight into the wood fence. It KILLED the horse. The coyote ran off when my friends dad came outside, but shards off the wood stuck into the horse and it bled out before the vet could get there.

One year later, same thing happens, but through the barbed wire. That horse came away with less damage, and barely any scars.

My point? It can happen on any fence, and what people use is their business, so stop ganging up on them. I myself have run straight into newly put up barbed wire, and to be honest, it wasn't that bad. The key is not to let your horse panic, just cut the wire and get th
  Oct 25, 2011  •  28,312 views
Life is risky-there are no certainties....At the end of the day the significant factor centers around personal'Responsibility'......
  Oct 28, 2011  •  28,116 views
Dream Forever  
I have read most of these comments............... I am very disappointed as I tought you were all more mature than that............... Honestly,yes,barbed wire shouldn't be used........ But this article was posted for people who were giving out about it but some people have no say about what wire or fencing is used......... Opinions are opinions bur if they are going to be as immature as this.............. PLEASE DON'T POST THEM...........
  Oct 28, 2011  •  28,164 views
Great story...

Yes barbwire can be dangerous to horses to a point, so can any type of panel,fencing or means of material you decide to use to keep your horses or live stock in. Just because someone uses barbwire to fence to keep their horses in doesn't make them a bad horse owner or person. I have personally known a couple of people who have owned or still own horses to this day who use barbed wire to keep their horses on their property.

A old family friend of ours who was well known in different horse circuits from rodeo,cutting,paint horse breeding and the appaloosa association use to have most of her 10 acres surrounded by barb wire fencing to keep her horses in the pastures. She also would have some trees planted too along side the fencing and did this make her a bad horse own or breeder/boarder? Nope not in the least. She took very well care of the horses she owned and the ones that other people boarded on her property.
Her property was like this until she sold it bac
  Nov 1, 2011  •  28,149 views
RoyalCrownEstates  MOD 
I like the stricle, great information !

(all the rude comments listed above)

if you dont have something nice to say. Don't say anything at all.. simple
  Nov 3, 2011  •  28,146 views
I respect you for standing up for yourself and other barbed wire users. :)
  Nov 7, 2011  •  28,237 views
no i don't think it's safe my uncle had a horse that got CAUGHT IN IT AND HE ALMOST DIED. but there is a kind that dosen't have the spikes that I would reccommend
  Nov 12, 2011  •  28,140 views
You guys are slightly overreacting, evreyone has diffrent oppinones and so please respect that. Pb is not for arguing. I don't mean to affend anyone. And its not my place to speak, but still. :)
  Nov 17, 2011  •  28,121 views
SkyFall Equestrian Center  
All of you who dissagree are not thinking, and trying to be "the preacher of the horse bible". Horses can get hurt just by moving. All fences are dangerous. Electric can shock, wood can splinter, wire can scrape, and the white PVC fences can kill them. About the PVC, it has chemicals all over it, so cribbing could kill your horse! (don't anyone dare to deny that, because my dad studied enviromental science for 3 years!) You need to think. Some "Excuses" are actually true facts! You all need to think before you speak. (trust me, the safety precautions help a lot!)
  Nov 18, 2011  •  21,988 views
Well I have decided that you have barb wire and keep it tight, neat and tidy, or ya don't ahve one. If you have bulls near your horse, but know the work it takes to own a fence like this fine, but if it's all messy and loose then there an't no excuse for that! I see if you have one but the ends are neat, and it is tidy overall. But when a fence at the post, or connecting area is really loose, too much hanging there, or not tight then don't tell me THAT'S safe! If you're going to have barb wire then know you're going to have to walk to the fence line and tify it up here and there.
  Nov 18, 2011  •  22,005 views
My Paper Heart  
Lately a person on here has been dogging me about barbwire fencing that isn't even mine. Yes, I will admit I do have some barbwire where to pastures meet. I am really tired of it and I go home and think 'Why don't these people mind their own freaking business.' I am not going to dog people about barbwire fencing anymore and that is a promise, because now I know how it feels.
  Nov 19, 2011  •  21,956 views
Folie A Deux  
Thanks for the tips. I'm getting longhorns to raise next spring and I plan on using barbwire for them. I'm not a fan of it, but sometimes it's the best alternative.
  Dec 4, 2011  •  21,959 views
Southern Devil  
I like this article. We have barb wire over our electric but not just plain barb wire. Val you are AWESOME for writing this article!!!
  Apr 25, 2012  •  21,963 views
Mutley Jackson  
Thanks, Valkyrie for this article. Much needed.

*facepalm* Some people really need to get a grip...
  Apr 29, 2012  •  21,967 views
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