Horsekeeping for Beginners
Pasture and Fencing
When my husband and I set out to get our first horse, there was surprisingly little information on the web, it seemed, geared towards beginners and normal people keeping horses--as in not rich people boarding champions in barns nicer than our house. Also, many websites were written with the assumption you'd always been around horses and already knew most of what you needed to know.
I set out to make a horsekeeping guide for people who wanted to own their own horse and keep it in their yard and just ride for fun.
How Much Land for a Horse?
Okay, so you have enough land to keep a horse. You think. How much land is enough land to keep a horse on? Well, we have between one and a half and two acres of yard (divided into two pastures), and that's what we keep our horse on. Given that some horses spend most of their lives stuck in a stable, I don't see that an acre and a half of yard is terrible for our horse. She canters around it easily and she has nice shade trees to stand under (which is surely a bonus to her, seeing how she is a black horse and must get very hot in the sun).
People around us keep horses on smaller plots of land; I've seen more than one horse on a quarter acre. This, however, is very similar to keeping your horse in a barn (or like keeping a large dog in the house)--it HAS to be exercised by you everyday. With an acre or more, your horse can run itself around; with less than an acre, your horse will need to be exercised by you, either in a round pen or by taking it out on road or trail rides.
There is new scientific evidence that horses need to walk throughout the day in order to digest their food properly; stalled horses, or horses kept in small turnout pastures are more likely to colic and/or start cribbing than horses kept in large pastures where they can graze and exercise in turn. (While cribbing can start because of boredom, there is a new theory that some horses do it because they are having digestive problems, and they are not actually sucking wind, but trying to expel it--in short, they're trying to burp. Horses that crib for this reason generally stop cribbing if they are turned out where they can exercise and improve their digestion.)
In addition, if you keep a horse on less than an acre of land, it will need to be fed hay year-round. A horse on less than an acre of land will quickly graze the grass down to a nub and then the first rain you have will turn the entire area into a mud pit. If you value your horse's feet, you will NOT build a small paddock in a low-lying area; place it where it will drain well so that the ground will dry out quickly when the rain stops.
We have found firsthand that one and a half acres is not enough to feed a horse spring to fall, although your results will vary based on your climate and grass. We put our horse on a yard which had not been maintained with water or fertilizer, and we also put her on it at the end of a summer where we had had our worse drought on record. She picked an acre clean inside of a week and when the rains came in the winter, half of it became very torn up. If we had had better-established grass that was much thicker, it might have fared better. So, the type of grass you have in your pasture will go a long ways towards determining how much your horse has to eat, and whether enough grass roots will survive to grow and spread in the spring.
If you frequently have summers where you have to mow the grass about once a week, then you actually stand a good chance of keeping your horse on nothing but grass and maybe a bit of feed all summer long. If, however, you get a drought, as we did again this summer, you will not be able to keep a horse on grass alone on less than two acres. Depending on how often it rains, maybe not less than three. But you can still keep a horse on less acreage if you are willing to buy hay and feed it to him everyday.
If you have 1-3 acres of pasture, something you have to think about is what do you do with your horse when it's time to reseed in the spring? (It wouldn't be worth the effort to try to seed less than an acre because it will quickly turn back into raw dirt.) Because a horse tears up grass on small acreage, you will need to do pasture maintenance--fertilizing, weed killing and re-seeding--spring and fall in order to keep grass going. If you can't divide your pasture in two and rotate the horse off one section while you get the grass started, then you may need to board your horse for about 6 weeks while you work.
So, how much acreage you need for your horse varies depending on how much work you are willing to do. You can keep a horse in a barn or a turnout paddock, but you have to exercise and feed him everyday. You can keep a horse on an acre of land, but you will need to work on your pasture twice a year (and grass seed for an acre is $50-$65 a bag, depending on the grass type), and feed hay through the winter and possibly during the driest parts of the summer. If you have three acres or more, you should be able to keep one horse on nothing but grass spring, summer and fall and not have to do much in the way of pasture maintenance.
Prepping Your Land
Once you have selected a piece of land to become your pasture, you have to prime it. We were able to find decent information on poisonous plants in a book on horse care (your local agricultural extension office can also help), and we duly stripped out the oak saplings and trimmed our oak tree very high up (their leaves are toxic). In fact, we trimmed all of our trees back with the exception of two cedars. My husband said he didn't want a spooked horse putting its eye out by running into a tree branch. Also, if you're going to do an electric fence, you can't have tree branches touching it.
So, investment number one (unless you have no trees): a medium-duty chainsaw.
No, a light-duty chainsaw will not do, even to trim just limbs; ours kept throwing the chain when my husband put it to anything more than an inch thick. We finally broke down and bought a Husqvarna medium-duty, and it's proven to be a good, tough chainsaw (although vines will still cause you to throw a chain).
After we trimmed back all the trees and ripped up the poisonous plants, it was time for me to turn my attention to the yard nasties. I have never seen a yard like it for having nasty things in it. Cactus, thistles, and a low-growing thing that I call "prickly cabbage" because of how the spiny leaves open out from the center. And this is Tennessee, folks, not the desert Southwest.
Investment number two: a shovel and wheelbarrow.
I spent an hour or better shoveling up cactus and those prickly cabbage things from our yard. While a horse will generally stay away from spiny things like prickly cabbage and thistle, you never know if you're going to get a dumb horse that will stick its nose into anything once or twice before learning its lesson. Do you really want to pay a vet to come out and extract a thistle from up your horse's nose? And that cactus can get anyone-man and beast alike. It got me several times while I was trying to dig it up; it would have been very easy for a horse to get a nose full of tiny orange stickers while just mindlessly grazing.
Investment number three: rocks and/or dirt.
Every yard has holes. If you live on top of a bed of limestone like we do, you may even have some holes that go all the way to China, where the limestone has washed away into a honeycomb of mini-caves (we plan on selling out before it all sinks). Needless to say, holes are bad for horses. If you step in one and break a leg or an ankle, you will get patched back up. If your horse breaks a leg, it's pretty much an automatic death sentence. Few people can afford to pay for the amount of care that the Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro got, and he still had to be put down. A single break might be something a horse can recover from (Barbaro's leg bone shattered), but it's still very expensive, and as a normal person, you probably can't afford to pay for it.
So it's better for a horse to lose an eye on a broken tree branch than to step in a hole while it's trotting or cantering around. Don't skimp on your hole-filling!
If you're a true greenhorn to hole-filling, dump large pieces of rock into a large hole, followed by small, gravel-sized pieces of rock as the hole gets smaller, followed by a shovelful or two of dirt to level it out and make it nice and smooth. Don't forget to walk and stamp on it to make sure it's good and filled in. A horse will be putting 2-4 times your weight on that same spot, so you need to make sure the rocks aren't just resting at the top of a much deeper, empty hole.
Selecting a Fence - Traditional Options
Once your land is primed, the next thing that is required for horse ownership is fencing. Now, picking out a fence may sound easier than picking out a horse, but you're already wrong and you haven't even got started yet! Picking out a fence is an extremely complicated procedure-partly due to multiple fencing options, partly due to multiple opinions on good and bad fences.
And sometimes, no matter what you choose, you will lose. Some horses are dumber--or smarter--than others, and will twart whatever fence you have. My husband worked with a draft horse once that was so smart, he used his butt to push down a wooden fence so he could get into the neighboring pasture and steal another horse's grain. Our horse trainer had horses in a mesh fence--supposedly a no-no--without any incidents. Some horses get into trouble and some don't.
Because we're normal people, we wanted (read: needed) a reasonably priced fence. What's the point in your fence being so expensive you can't afford to buy a horse to put in it? After reading up on fences online, and consulting the grizzled farmers that hang out at the Co-Op, and, most usefully, the manager at the Tractor Supply, we came up with a fencing plan that seems to have worked out quite well.
But first, let's go over all of the options that you might want to consider.
Most people think if you have horses you need a wood fence. The problem is, this is the most expensive fence you can install. It's probably the most labor intensive as well. It also requires the most amount of upkeep. In short, this tends to be a rich horsekeeper's fence, not a normal person's fence (unless you were blessed to buy land that came with just such a fence pre-installed).
Let's go over it's good points. It keeps horses in. In an emergency, horses can usually break through it, causing them less harm than if they get caught in it (although reading statements like that in every fence reference guide makes me think that there must be a lot of fence-ripping horses out there in the world). It looks nice and is usually something that adds a bit of re-sale value to your property (note I said "a bit"; you'll never get the full cost of your fencing out of your home sale). Weeds and overhanging branches don't interfere with its function, and it's easily visible to the horse (meaning they are less likely to run into it by accident).
The bad points. It's expensive because wood is expensive. It's labor-intensive to install. Have you SEEN the diameter of those fence posts? You have a dig a hole big enough to set that into the ground. The uneducated try doing that themselves with just a post-hole digger. The educated slap down the cash to rent a mechanical auger to dig it for them. The cleverest people, though, have a tractor with an auger attachment on it. If you can't dig the hole deep enough, you also get to buy and mix concrete to pour into the hole to keep the post anchored. Once the fence is up, you get to paint it, and then you get to reapply the paint every couple of years to keep it from rotting and cracking. You also need to check it fairly regularly as the wood seasons and the temperature changes because nails will work loose. This is also why the boards are always nailed down on the OUTSIDE of the poles, so that nails that work out of the wood are not where the horse can hurt itself on them.
Many horse books say this is bad for horses because they can stick a hoof through a hole and get it caught. I have seen horses grazing alongside goats in this sort of fencing. Heck, our horse spent three months boarding with a trainer and this was the kind of fence she had, and none of the horses got stuck in it. In any event, they make different mesh sizes; if you want to go this route, get a smaller mesh size so that, even when bent out to its maximum, the holes are still too small for a horse to get its foot through.
The good points of this fencing. Weeds and overhanging branches don't interfere with its ability to work as a fence, so it's good and rugged. While it should be stretched like any other form of metal fencing, many people seem to get away with doing a half-hearted job on that, so it's probably actually less work to install than a wire-strand fence. It can be installed on either wooden or metal posts. Metal posts can be driven into the ground without the need to dig a hole, and they are cheaper than wooden posts, so you can see the benefit of a fence that works with metal posts. It also allows you to pasture your horse with smaller animals, such as goats or alpacas. It doesn't require much maintenance, aside from occasionally taking up some of the slack when it stretches out.
The drawbacks. This is about as expensive as wooden fencing per foot. It's not as much work to install as wood, but it's more work than other options. You may get a fence-stupid horse who will put its foot through the mesh, if the holes are large, and hurt itself. It will not break under pressure, so a panicked horse may hurt itself running into it (btw, we've had a horse for a year and she's never attempted to go through our fence, and it's easier to get through than a mesh one).
Wire, high-tensile wire, barbed wire, poly wire
While these are four different kinds of wire-strand fencing, each with their benefits and drawbacks, they all pretty much install the same.
Regular wire This has to be stretched (using a metal tool that you have to buy), so it makes it a bit of work to get installed. You also have to tighten it up occasionally as it stretches out. It can be installed on either metal or wooden posts, but everything I have seen says that you need three wooden posts at every corner, specially set up to distribute the tension as the wire wraps around at a 90 degree angle (otherwise you bend your pole over under the tension). Most mesh fences also need this corner arrangement, but some people, who do not tighten their mesh fence much, get by without them (a saggy fence, though, is more of an entanglement hazard for any animals you keep in it). This fence can also be electrified (so can the mesh, but that's overkill). You will want to electrify a three-strand fence, but if you put up 4-6 strands, you probably won't need it, depending on what you are keeping (most all stallions, for instance, should be kept in an electrified fence).
Besides the labor and the corner post set-up, the major drawback to wire fences is horses can't see them. Wire also doesn't break easily, so they will get hurt worse when they run into it.
High-tensile wire is the same as regular wire, except that it's high-tensile. Gasp! Actually, what that means is that you can put enough tension on the wire that you can space your poles farther apart. All of the previously-mentioned forms of fencing need poles every 8-12 feet apart (preferably 8'-10'). Cattle ranchers in Texas and Australia can make this high-tensile wire stretch 50 feet or more between posts. So, if you have a large piece of land to fence in-with many long straightaways, this stuff can actually save you money by reducing your need for fence posts (surprisingly expensive for such a primitive object), and it can save you labor (by not having to install so many fence posts). It is wasted, however, on small pastures with a lot of bends and corners. It's even harder for a horse to break than regular wire.
Barbed wire is right up there with mesh in terms of evil horse fencing. Our current horse was housed in a pasture which was partially enclosed with at least one strand of barbed-wire, and in the 5 years she lived there, she amazingly never seemed to have hurt herself on it. Barbed wire installs just like regular wire. It's slightly more visible because of the barbs. It's used instead of regular wire because it keeps cows (for whom it was originally designed) from bulling through the fence and tearing it up. The only reason why you should use barbed wire instead of regular wire is if you will be keeping your horse with cattle, and then you might consider electrifying it; that will keep your horse away from it and should prevent him from hurting himself on it. It is harder to break than any other wire (because it's two strands), and is the most dangerous for a horse to run into. Barbed wire is sometimes used in conjunction with other forms of fencing, such as mesh, to keep animals from trying to climb or otherwise tear down the fence.
Poly wire This is a new thing. It is just like regular wire in terms of installation, except that it's visible due to the white and/or yellow plastic it's wrapped in. So it takes care of the invisible fence problem. It's also electrifiable.
Selecting a Fence - New Options
This is also fairly new, but becoming very popular. It consists of plastic fibers woven into a ribbon/tape in various widths. It also has thin strands of wire woven into it, making it electrifiable. The narrower widths (1"-2") are good for temporary or portable fencing, but my husband read that for permanent pasturing, you should not use less than 2" wide tape (it also comes in 3"-4" and maybe 2.5").
Benefits: It's cheaper than every other form of fencing previously mentioned. It can be put on wooden or metal poles. It needs to be stretched, but you do that by hand; you don't need a special tool because you're not pulling it as tight. Because you aren't pulling it as tight, you can get away with not putting in the wooden posts at the corners for reinforcement. It's super visible to the horse. It breaks under pressure and does not splinter or have dangerous edges to it like wooden or metal fencing, so it's probably the safest thing to use if you have a fence-ripping horse. It's also highly mobile: you can take it down, roll it up, and move it to some other field. It now seems to the be the number one choice for portable fencing when people take their horses somewhere for a weekend. They even make plastic posts with notches in them just for putting poly tape through and setting up a temporary enclosure. (No, do not set up your regular pasture with plastic fence posts.)
Drawbacks: It breaks easier under pressure than metal or wood, so a bunch of rough-housing foals or a horse who's used to scratching his butt on fencing may break your fence more often than you care to have to repair it. It's also a pain to sew a patch to join the two broken ends together. The wind catches it and stretches it out very frequently; it stretches more and faster than wire-strands, so even though it's easier to stretch, you have to do it more frequently. Because it's so easily bulled through, you have to electrify it to give it any sort of containment power. That means you have to trim back the limbs and clear out the weeds before you turn on the current (plus you have to buy a charger). Like mesh and traditional wire strands, you will have to have posts about every 10 feet.
This is the option that my husband and I used, and so far we have been quite pleased with the results. It is plastic that has been twisted into a rope, with metal strands interwoven so that it's electrifiable. It too comes in various sizes, with 1/4" diameter being the minimum you want to use for permanent pasturing. Sold in rolls of 656 feet.
Benefits: While not as large as poly tape, it is still plenty visible enough for horses. It is stronger than poly tape, but will still break under pressure and also does not break into dangerous pieces when it does break. It is more easily spliced/repaired than the poly tape. It too can be installed by hand, without any special stretching tools, although unlike like poly tape, it doesn't stretch out nearly as fast when it's installed, meaning it's less work to maintain. It doesn't need a reinforced corner. It is also portable and can be used for temporary pasturage. It can be attached to either wooden or metal posts (or trees). It is as cheap or cheaper than poly tape; in fact, it's pretty much as cheap as it gets for fencing. And speaking of cheap, you can place your posts 20'-30' apart instead of 8'-12' like the other forms of fencing. This means fewer posts and less cost and labor.
Drawbacks: Again, it's not enough of a fence on its own for a horse, and it has to be electrified.
A Tale of Two Wrecks
Within one month, we've had two different people run off the road and wreck our fence (if this keeps up, I'm going to install some medieval caltrops around the perimeter so people's tires burst before they can run through the fence). I think the Tale of Two Wrecks is a testimonial to electric rope fencing.
The first person ran off the road in the neighbor's yard and came through a corner of our fence and a couple of yards into the pasture before coming to a stop. The jerk then backed up, got back on the road and left, never informing us that he had run through our fence and that three sections of it were completely on the ground. Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, Infanta did not take advantage of this and get out--even though the fence was completely down for a number of hours before I noticed it (I noticed it at noon, but the wreck surely occurred sometime in the wee hours when we weren't awake to hear it). I think this was solely due to the fact that Infanta is afraid of the electric fence when it pops--and it pops when something is contact it, or a strand is on the ground. It was most assuredly popping loudly, laying on the ground, and this is the only thing that could have stopped her from stepping over the strands and heading down the road.
Luckily the car which wrecked the fence came in between two posts. If we had had a traditional fence, which requires posts every 10 feet instead of every 20-30 feet, the car would have surely gotten one of our posts. As the section of fence hit was right next to one of our rope gates (more on those in the section on installing gates), the gate came undone instead of the rope breaking. One of our handles did get broken and we had to replace it, but other than that, all that had to be done was to put the rope back in the plastic clips.
Cost to repair the fence: $3 for a new gate handle.
Labor fixing the fence: Under 30 minutes.
The second person to wreck the fence apparently ran off the edge of the road, whacking his car on a couple of posts as he went down the ditch, before hitting the giant sinkhole and spinning the backend of his car up into our yard and through the fence. This did not happen near a gate, so the rope had no option but to break under the strain. This happened at about 2am. Once the car was towed out of our pasture, my husband was able to fix the fence right then, in the dark, and we were able to release Infanta back into the pasture.
Cost to repair the fence: $0 (although we may replace one T-post that's a bit bent in the middle, which will cost us $4.54 at the going rate at Tractor Supply, and we may get some rope splicers to replace the knots in the rope so it looks better, which will cost us about $9 total).
Labor fixing the fence: Under 30 minutes.
Electric tape and rope are the only two fence materials that can be repaired so quickly and cheaply. And that's a very important consideration if your fence is on a road, and if that's the only place you have to put your horse (otherwise, what do you do with it while you are getting lumber, cutting it, and nailing it up, or if your wooden post is broken?).
As a reminder: If you ever run through someone's fence, you should make every effort to close off the breech so none of the animals get out (even if you don't see animals, it doesn't mean there are not some in that pasture). You should then notify the owner, or, if not home, leave a note letting them know where their fence is broken so they can repair it immediately. Of course, legally you need pay to repair their fence, but it's far more important to the pasture owner that their animals do not escape than they get reimbursed for the fence; a single animal is worth more than a section of fence damaged by a car.
Additional Fencing Tips and Tidbits
Fences don't need to be all one thing or all another. I have seen many fences which are a combination of one or more elements. One very large horse farm near us has wooden fencing along the road front for looks, then has very wide poly tape for a top strand and four strands of high-tensile wire below it. I'm just guessing, but I bet the tape is electrified, but the wire is not. But they're not the only people around us who fence in the front of their yard with wooden fencing, then use something cheaper and easier on the sides and back.
And then there's a fence which has a few strands of electrified wire set up directly behind the decorative PVC fencing (which is never strong enough on its own to contain anything).
You could also have a wire fence with one strand of poly rope in the middle to make it visible.
All forms of fencing can be attached to a tree the same as it can be to a wooden post, so if you arrange it, try bouncing your fence off trees to save the effort of driving posts. In our case, parts of our yard were so rocky that we had to bounce the fence off trees because we could not sink a metal post. Also, if you have a tree which is going to be very close to your intended fence line, go ahead and bounce the fence off it so you don't end up with a narrow corridor in your pasture like I talked about in the first section. Even if you are fencing the tree out, you may want to go ahead and attach to the tree because rope and tape especially can flap in the wind and if the tree is close enough to touch them, it will ground out your fence.
In our secondary pasture, which we partially hacked out of the woods, the top two strands are electrified, but the bottom strand is not. This was necessary since we couldn't get all of the scrub cleared away under the fence and the terrain was uneven (you don't want anything touching your electric fence or you will nullify it by grounding it). You can also save costs by making the top and bottom strands hot and making the middle strand out of regular poly rope, but I would only recommend that for people who have a horse that they know is fence-respectful. Stallions, young colts and anything else that gets a wild streak from time to time should never have less than three strands of electric. And yes, the bare minimum for a wire, tape or rope fence is three strands; when in heat, our mare managed to crawl out under the two electric strands in the back. When we added a third strand, even though it wasn't electrified, she stayed in.
Where we can have a bottom strand electrified, we have it. That is not so much a horse deterrent as it is a dog and coyote deterrent. Most people do not want stray dogs or coyotes running their horse around the pasture (even if they're unlikely to hurt it). However, if you have a donkey, you need not worry, as donkeys will attack dogs and coyotes both. Where we live, they are often pastured with goats or sheep because they will defend those animals as well as a dog.
Choosing a Gate
It used to be that the only two types of gates that were available were wooden gates and metal gates. Oh, and those slotted metal grates that install in the ground, which only work on thin-footed animals, like sheep and goats--not on horses or cattle. But now there are a few more options. Let's review everything, like we did with the fencing.
Build them yourself out of your leftover wooden fencing supplies. They have all of the maintenance and cost and labor drawbacks of the wooden fence. They have all the benefits of wooden fencing. Depending on how they are constructed, they may be lighter in weight than a metal gate. Wooden gates must be installed on a wooden post.
Metal (Cattle) Gates
These you buy prefab from your Co-Op or Tractor Supply Store (or similar). They have the drawback that horses can stick a foot through the rails and get it caught. You can buy gates with rails closer together so you don't have this problem. Some people wire mesh fencing to the gate rails to make it harder for any animal to put a foot or head between the rails. The more metal involved, the more expensive the gate becomes, so you can see why adding mesh fencing to the gate is preferred over getting a more solid gate (which also adds a lot of weight).
They're less work to install and maintain than a wooden gate, but usually more expensive (especially if you can make your wooden gate from scrap lumber). They can also be heavy if you need to get one big enough to go across a wide driveway; they're not for petite women or children to be opening and closing regularly. Also, due to their weight, they sag on their hinges easily and end up dragging on the end that opens, making them even more difficult to open. Wooden fences can do this as well, but it's not as bad because they're typically not as heavy. However, if you need a long fence (more than 10' across), you probably will have to opt for metal; wooden fences are not very durable or sturdy when they get much longer than 10'. Metal gates are also electrifiable. They're also the strongest containment gate; unlike wooden gates, animals can not get out unless an entire herd presses against it and rips it off its hinges.
Metal gates must be installed on a wooden post.
These are something new and they are about what they sound like. You know how the spring-hinge works on a screen door? Well, this is pretty much the exact same thing. It's a giant spring (hence it's resemblance to a Slinky) that is loose enough to be easily stretched across a wide opening. In fact, the standard ones seem to all do at least 20 feet, and from what I can tell, you can get them to do 50 feet.
Slinky gates are much, much cheaper than a wooden or metal gate. Also, 20 feet is about the size-limit for a metal gate, so if you want a wider opening, you would have to buy more than one metal gate and lock them together in the middle. Slinky gates are lightweight and easily stretched, so they're easy for petite people, children, and disabled people to get in and out of. However, because they are only a couple of inches in diameter, you will need two to three slinky gates to properly close off your gate area. That means unhooking all three in order to go in (or less if you are willing to step through or over the other gates). They are electrifiable (in fact, they shouldn't be used unless you have an electric fence, or you use 4 or more of them).
Slinky gates can be installed directly on a wooden post, or they can be attached to the end of a wire, poly tape or poly rope strand (you will need a wooden or metal post right beside the gate for support).
Plastic handle gates
These are cheapest option of all, coming in at $1.50-$3 per handle (as opposed to about $20 per slinky gate). They make these for poly tape and poly rope fences. You basically take either your tape or your rope, thread it through the hole on the handle and back onto itself, then use a metal piece you can buy just for that purpose to clamp it onto itself. The inside of the gate handle is metal, so it conducts electricity continuously, yet you can undo the gate without having to turn off the electric box (I don't recommend that, however). I think slinky gates also have a plastic handle on them for this same purpose, but some may not, meaning you would have to turn off the electricity before trying to open the gate.
Plastic gate handles attach directly to the end of poly rope or poly tape (you will need a wooden or metal post right beside the gate for support).
Planning the Pasture
Before you install anything, you need to know some critical information about your pasture.
1. Where will you be storing hay and feed?
2. Where will you be storing tack?
3. If you are putting in an electric fence, where is the closest place you can plug up the charger?
4. Where are you going to water the horse?
5. Where will you put access for vehicles?
1. Where will you be storing hay and feed? This is an important question because you don't want to have to lug a bale of hay a quarter of a mile around your pasture to the gate. We had a barn/garage already, so it seemed obvious that we would put hay and feed in it, and that a gate needed to be on that end of the pasture.
2. Where will you be storing tack? Saddles get heavy real quick when you're toting them around, to say nothing of having yourself loaded down with fly spray, brushes, a hoof pick, a halter, a lead rope, a bridle and a girth. In addition to considering where you will be storing that equipment, you also must consider where you will tack up your horse. If the nearest part of the pasture to your storage area is not a good place to tack up, putting a gate there has little value because you will still need to walk to your staging area. If you will be installing some sort of shed for tack, make sure that it is close to an appropriate section of the pasture for tacking up.
3. Where can you plug up your charger? The closest electrical outlet will determine the best placement of your charger box. You will probably want a gate close to the charger box, as you will need to turn it off before entering the pasture, and you will not want to have to turn it off and walk a long ways to get into the pasture.
4. Where are you going to water the horse? The simplest solution is to place the water trough under a faucet that you already have on your house or in your yard and fence it in. The next best option--but much more expensive--is to have a plumber install a faucet where you want to have your pasture. The third option is to run a water hose from your faucet to your pasture, but this is problematic in the winter because your hose will freeze. At that point, you will want a trough near your house because you will have to tote buckets of water out to your horse by hand. You will also want to consider placing your water trough near an electrical outlet, as you can get tank heaters which will keep the water from freezing up (an absolute necessity in northern climates and fairly important in places like Tennessee; Floridians need not worry).
5. Where will you put access for vehicles? You will need at least one gate wide enough to drive a vehicle through because it's safer if you load your horse inside the pasture (if he spooks and gets away from you, he's still contained in the pasture). Also, if your horse is sick or down, your vet will probably want to pull his vehicle in close so he can operate out of it. Plus you also need to consider where you will be taking manure out for disposal (small pastures need regular cleaning).
We had three gates to start. We enclosed part of our circular driveway into the pasture, so it was obvious we needed a gate where the driveway goes into the pasture and where it exits. This way, when we want to load our horse, all we have to do is drive in, close the fence behind us, load her, open the other gate and drive out. No having to turn around or (worse) back up. One of those gates was close to the house, so we put the charger box and water trough there so we could operate the box and the tank heater. We had to use a water hose to fill the trough (and thus how I know they freeze up and you have to tote buckets of water out of the house for your horse). The third gate was nearest the barn so we could get in with tack and get out with the manure barrow.
We have since added another section of pasture which goes almost all the way around our house, and now we have the perfect pasture setup. We now have the water trough directly under the outdoor faucet, and there is a plug next to it for the tank heater. The new section now butts up against the barn, so we installed a fourth gate right next to the barn door. The charger box now lives in the garage and we feed through the barn gate--which is also just a few steps away from the watering trough. The third gate still gets use, though, for tack and manure duty because it accesses a very wide part of the pasture, while the pasture next to the garage is rather small. And, of course, the original two gates still serve their function of allowing vehicular access.
So, as you can see, the number of gates you install will depend greatly on where you need to do what in your pasture. However, you will greatly cut down on your chore time if you can group your main chores--feeding and watering and grooming/riding--close together. What you want to avoid is one gate you go in to feed, another you go into to water, and yet a third where you go in to groom or work your horse. Since you will need to feed and water your horse every day, it's most important that those two things are done in the same part of the pasture, and that that part of the pasture is closest to either your house or your barn (and if you're building a barn or storeroom, put it close to your house!).
Oh yes, something else you can do. As you can see in the picture, there is a wooden ladder which is sitting astride a metal fence. This is something you can do if you do not want to install a gate, but you might need to cross the fence occasionally. A neighbor down the street from us has one on the side of his pasture that abuts the road. No need for a gate there, but I suppose he has need to use it to cross the pasture from time to time. These also work if you live in someplace like the UK, where you are generally encouraged to make your pasture lands accessible to tourists-usually because pasture lands sit on top of things like old Roman fortifications (saw that in a sheep pasture in Carwent, Wales). These ladders allow you to cross any type of fencing, electric or not, without harming yourself or the fence.
Plotting the Fence Line
I can only walk you through what my husband and I did for our fence; I can't give you any help on the other types of fencing because I have no experience with installing anything else. I only know something about other types of fences because of the research we did before selecting the poly rope.
Before you install an electric fence of any kind, it's best if you mow the grass; it'll be harder to take care of any weeds one you have the posts up. Most people I know would rather mow than have to weedeat.
The first thing we did was purchase some surveyor's flags. These were a few bucks for 100 or so at Tractor Supply. We measured off 20 feet of string and took that to the field with us.
Having decided where we wanted our gates (see prior section on planning your pasture before you start), we simply started to one side of the still-imaginary gate nearest our house, and we started walking off 20 feet. Roughly every 20 feet, we planted a surveyor's flag. When we got near a corner or a gate, we might have to add a couple of feet to that measurement, or short it a couple of feet to make it come out right close to even. This isn't cabinetry you're building here; it doesn't have to be terribly precise. Because poly rope can supposedly span up to thirty feet, what's a foot or two extra on twenty feet? My husband went with twenty feet because he was afraid any further apart would make for too saggy a fence.
When we had a long straightaway, we just eyeballed our flags as we planted them to see that they more or less stayed in a straight line. You might want (or need) to be more precise than that, but in most cases it's not necessary. What IS necessary, however, is making sure that you are on your property line. My husband and I got out an old copy of the survey and walked off the property line to check to make sure we were staying on our land. Just to be sure, we scooted in from where we thought our line was by a few feet. There's nothing more disappointing than to drive a dozen posts and your neighbor comes along with a survey to prove that all of those posts are on his land. In fact, our curious neighbor came over to see what we were doing with our tape and surveyor's flags and we consulted with him and got an agreement that yes, we were definitely not on his line. This isn't legally-binding of course, hence why we still moved in a few feet just in case, but it never hurts to know that your current neighbor is agreeable with the fence placement.
When planning your fence line, you also need to consider fence clearance around the inside perimeter. My husband said that it was important to give a horse room to run clearly around something. If you can't let them run around it, then fence it out. That means that you need a good horse's width between an unmovable object and the fence. This caused some rather radical pruning of my favorite crepe myrtle bush, but in the end, the entire interior perimeter of our fence can be run by our horse. If the bush could not have been cut back away from the fence enough, then we would have had to either cut it down or fenced it out. (In the case of trees which are very close to your intended fence, you can bounce the rope fence off them with nail-on clips; in or outside of the fence doesn't matter, so long as there is no narrow gap the horse can get stuck in.)
The one thing you DON'T want in your pasture is a place that's too narrow for a horse to move through; it might get stuck. Keep this in mind too: if you have two trees close together, or even one that splits in two very close to the ground, a spooked or playful horse might try to go between the trees and get lodged. You can always nail a few boards between the two trees like a mini-fence to tell the horse, no, you can't go in between. Anything as close together as the width of a horse's head is nothing to be worried about. It's when something is about the width of a horse's chest that you need to take action. Horses don't necessarily know that their bellies are wider than their chests, and they may very well plow through something only to find themselves hung up on their fat belly.
If you are unsure of the width of a horse for measuring, push your wheelbarrow around. If you and the wheelbarrow can't get between two trees or between a tree and a post comfortably, then you don't have enough space for a horse to get through safely either. If you have a building sitting so close to your fence line that it will create a narrow place, you don't need to fence it out completely; just make the fence run dead into it. If you are not using an electric fence, then you can butt your fence right up to the building.
However, if you have an electric fence, put the very last pole right next to the building, then either nail plastic clips around the outside of the building to carry your line around it, or set poles right up against it and snake the rope around that way. (You can always drop the rope from the clips in order to access the back of the building for painting or other forms of maintenance; that's the beauty of the poly rope and poly tape.)
After we got all of our flags placed, we counted them up so we would know how many posts to buy. We ended up needing 39 posts. This was convenient since metal T-posts are generally sold in bundles of 5 (gave us one spare post to bend).
My husband bought 6 foot tall metal T-Posts. He said anything shorter was not really appropriate for a horse, especially since we were on the lookout for a draft or draft cross (again, one of those times and places where what kind of horse you're going to get matters). If you are keeping ponies, a five foot fence post, however, would probably be good enough for you. If you are keeping stallions or anything else that's on the wild side, as I mentioned before, you might want another foot on your posts and put some extra strands of rope on it just to keep them better contained (even stallions which are normally very gentle and calm can go wild when they smell a mare in heat, and that smell can carry a very long way; come to think about it, mares can get a bit wild when they're in heat).
Two feet of that six feet of post is for sinking into the ground. My husband said less depth than that was probably not strong enough to hold should a horse apply pressure to the fence. The posts were under $4 each (I think they were actually $3.25 a post, but price will vary depending on where you are buying them). We also spend about $30 on a 30lb post driver. It's just a metal tube with on end sealed and handles on the side. One person holds the post upright while a second person slides the tube over the top of the post, then slams it down. In our ground, it probably took about 8 hits per post to get them 2 feet into the ground. Mind you, this is not counting the places where we hit rocks.
Another thing I highly recommend that you invest in-even though it seems strange to buy when you are *installing* a fence-is a T-post puller. My husband picked one up from Harbor Freight for about $40 sometime after we had installed posts for two pastures. This was because we were expanding one pasture and needed to remove about four posts. I pressed him to go get one, even though he was reluctant to drive all the way to the store and pay that much money for one, just to remove four posts. But when he got home with it, a few presses on the lever had a post out of the ground (and it wasn't bent, so we could reuse it) and he declared it had been worth the money and effort, and he wished we had had one long before now. That's because we live in a very rocky area, and there were many times we'd sink a post halfway and hit rock; when that happened, we had to pull the post back up and try again in a different spot. And it really is amazing how hard it can be to pull a post out of the ground that's only 6 inches deep, much less a foot. We would have saved ourselves extra labor and bending of posts if we had had the puller all along, and we could have quickly and easily removed the posts that wouldn't sink deep enough.
Driving posts is a two-person job, although only one person needs to be strong enough to drive the posts; the other person only needs to be able to hold the post upright while it is being driven and not let it start leaning to one side or the other. The person holding the post upright needs to have some sort of measuring stick. My husband got a piece of metal from our garage that was 4 feet long. When the post appeared deep enough, I held up the stick to measure the post. That's how we got our posts sunk to roughly the same depth all the way around (and they'd have all been perfect except for the aforementioned rocky ground problem; in some places we took the depth that we could get). The other thing your second person needs to have is a pair of gloves. This helps absorb some of the vibrations going through the post when it is struck, but, more importantly, it protects the hands from any metal splinters that these kinds of posts are wont to have.
So it's pretty simple from here: put one post everywhere you have a surveyor's flag. Oh, and when you get your post in position, remove the flag before you actually drive the post. More than one post took part of the flag into the ground with it, so we have orange flags around some of our posts that we can't get out of the ground. They don't hurt anything being like that, but it looks tidier if they're not there. And when you are driving T-posts, put the side with the bumps on it to the INSIDE of the pasture (except where noted later on). These bumps are what keeps your plastic clips from sliding up and down, and you are going to be putting the rope on the INSIDE of the posts, not on the outside, like you would do with boards on a wooden fence.
If you are unlucky enough to live on top of a bed of limestone-as we do-you may have to get a bit creative with your fence. As mentioned before, we wanted to drive our posts 2 feet into the ground. One foot is a bare minimum because there are pointed flanges on the T-posts one foot up and those MUST be sunk into the ground, or your or your horse could hurt yourselves stepping on them. So, where the ground was very rocky, we settled for one foot of post in the ground. But in many places we couldn't even get that, and so we had to pull up our post and move it. We might move it 6 inches in or out of the fence line, but usually we first tried moving it a foot one way or the other down the line. Thankfully, this isn't carpentry, so your measurements between posts don't have to be perfect (and won't be because of your terrain; I guarantee that).
If you see that a post is leaning and the post-holder can't pull on it enough when it's being struck to make it straighten back up, stop driving and the stouter of the pair (or maybe both) should push/pull on the post in order to get it straight again. The deeper it is, the harder this is to correct and the more likely you will bend the post, not just move it over in the ground. Remove it if necessary and start again. The post-holder needs to be stout enough to keep the post straight as it's being struck, but in rocky terrain, a post will sometimes go in the only direction it can, and there's nothing the post-holder can do about it. Try moving the post a few inches in any direction to a new spot.
There are two ways to cheat on post sinking. You can go rent an auger like I mentioned earlier and get a small bit on it that will drill holes for your metal fence posts and you can set them in that way (I think they can drill into rock a bit as well). Or, if you have trees along your fence line, you can just nail your plastic clips to the tree and put your rope up that way. If you do this, make sure there are no branches low enough to either touch the fence or to touch it if they are swaying in the wind. Tree limbs and weeds and the like draw current off your electric fence and ground it. At the very least it will make your fence weaker; at worst it will nullify it completely.
In one of our pastures, the ground was so rocky that we could not sink a post ANYWHERE for 40 feet or more, and we ended up having to clear out some brush and limbs so that we could attach the fence to trees.
And, actually, you can cheat a third way: either drive your posts after a good soaking rain, or thoroughly wet the ground before you drive. It was mine and my husband's great luck to get to put our fence up when we were in one of the worst droughts ever on record, with a hotter-than-average summer. Yes, we were out driving posts in ground baked like a brick at 90+ degrees, and we were in the sun most of the time to boot. Put up fencing in the spring, if at all possible. The fall and winter--when the ground is not frozen--are also better times to install a fence instead of August and September in Tennessee.
You will be happy to know that driving the posts is the most labor-intensive and time-consuming part of the entire fencing project; no matter what kind of fence you apply to your posts, it will all be downhill after the posts.
Putting up Your Rope Fence (and Gates)
Once you have all of your posts sunk, you will need to attach plastic clips to hold your electric rope or tape. These come in bags of 25 and I think they were $5 and change for the short clips.
To make all of the clips at the same height, take your 4' measuring aid and mark on it where you want each of your clips. We placed our first strand about 8 inches off the ground, then next one 18 inches above that, and the third one 18 inches above the second one, with about 4 inches of post left over at the top. Let me warn you: because not all of your fence posts are set at just the same height into the ground, and because of the variations in bump placement on the poles, you will not have a perfectly level fence line. That's okay; just put your clips between the bumps as close to your measurements as you can. If you later decide that one strand looks too low or too high, you can easily move it to make it look right visually; it's not permanent.
Also, make sure you take into account for any shifts in terrain. The end of our driveway was raised about a foot or foot and a half from the ground on either side of it. This left us with two options: try and drive a post through the gravel up on the driveway, or set a post in the grass on either side of the driveway. Naturally we chose to drive in the grass rather than the gravel. However, we only sank our posts there a little more than a foot down. This made these two posts higher than the surrounding posts, but it also allowed us more room to set the clips up higher on them so as to get that bottom strand of rope up over the hump of the driveway. That's yet another benefit of working with the poly rope; it's literally quite flexible when it comes to needing it to bend in order to go over or around difficult spots.
After you get all of your clips attached to the poles (this didn't take me thirty minutes to do), then you are ready to string your rope. The rope comes wrapped on a tube; I put our metal measuring stick through the tube (you can also used a broom handle) and walked backwards and fed out rope while my husband walked behind me, popping it into the clips.
This is what we did for our gate, using the plastic gate handles: First, we took the rope across the span where we wanted the gate, fed off an extra foot, then cut the rope. We then walked the fence line from the beginning (or previous gate, as you add more), taking all of the slack out of the rope. Then one of us held the rope taunt just before the gate post, while the other person tied a knot in the rope on the other side of the gate post. This knot fits up tightly against the plastic clip on the post and keeps your entire fence from going slack when you unhook the gate.
Next comes the loop, not the gate handle, funny enough. You need to leave your rope gate on the ground and take back up your roll of rope and make a loop in the end, about 6 inches in length (12 inches of rope doubled back on itself). How you attach it depends on if you are cheap or not. Where electric rope is sold, there is also sold little metal plates that you can slide two ends of rope into and then screw to clamp down. These are the fastest, best way to splice rope, but through experiment, we've found that you can get away with just knotting your rope (at the handles and as a splice). At about $3 each for the metal connectors, you may decide, as we did, that knotting will do. If you do decide to knot, you will need 8-12 inches of extra rope (i.e. it's not going into making the loop), and you will just knot it on the rope, then knot the tail on the rope multiple times until it is used up. These multiple knots are the key to ensuring that some of the wires in on part of the rope touch the wires in the other part the of the rope all the time and you get a steady connection.
With the loop to the inside of one post, connect its rope to the clip on that post. Have someone hold the rope just behind the loop to keep from pulling it out of the clip. The other person will then take up the first rope, the gate rope, and thread a plastic gate handle through it. Hook the gate handle to the loop and pull out any slack in the gate, then knot (multiple times, as with the loop) or use a metal connector to affix the gate handle. Your gate is now complete and you are ready to continue to put up rope.
And that's how you put up a rope fence. Repeat the gate steps for every gate, and repeat the entire process for each strand. If you are putting in a metal gate, there are various do-dads which will allow you to connect the end of your rope or tape to some sort of spring or wire connector that attaches to the gate so it will be electrified as well. Tape works the same way as rope, only you will want to go ahead and buy the metal splicers for it, because it looks ugly when you tie a knot in it (although that will work in a pinch).
Operating an Electric Fence
The charger box is, relatively speaking, the easier of the things to pick out for your fence. When you go to mark off your fence posts, you will discover how many feet of fencing you need. This will determine what kind of box you need. If you are fixing a small pasture like ours, then you will want the smallest, box, which is rated for 2-miles. As the name implies, it will charge a fence adequately to keep in large animals for approximately 2 miles in circuit (as we understand it, you do have to add the length of all the strands together).
The more distance a box is rated for, the more juice it has and the more expensive it is. While, in most cases, you will not want to buy more box than your fence line needs, people keeping stallions, aggressive or easily spooked (wild or abused) horses will probably want to get the next-size-up in boxes to give the fence a very strong shock.
There are two types of charger boxes--ones that plug in and ones that are solar. We have one of each (had--someone's stolen our solar box). Obviously to have a plug-in box you need to have a source of electricity nearby; a solar box can be placed anywhere.
Solar chargers are about twice as expensive as plug-in boxes, so when you're planning your pasture, you may want to try and put it close to a house or barn with electricity so you can have the plug-in box. The solar charger takes three full days of being out in the sunlight (no, lights in your house won't work on it) before it will be operational, so you need to get it installed in advance of putting a horse in that pasture. We found that the solar charger shocks the same as our plug-in charger, but the solar charger may seem weaker than a plug-in box when used on larger pastures. Living in TN, even in the winter and spring, we did not lose charge on our box due to too much cloud cover.
And lastly, you will almost certainly want to get a low-impedance box. Some boxes are not rated low impedance, and come in smaller distances (thus making them cheaper), but that also means that they have less charge in them, and every blade of grass or stick that touches the fence draws down the current until it might be too weak to keep an animal in. Most of these types of boxes are recommended for keeping in smaller animals that don't need as much of a shock to be deterred (goats, pigs and chickens, for instance), or if you are running a hot strand at the top of your fence, where grass and the like won't touch it. The low-impedance box means that when something like grass touches the fence, the box will automatically up the charge to compensate for the power drain, so that your fence is kept at maximum operating charge for as long as possible. This is perfect for people who don't want to go out and weedeat the fence line once every week or two in the summer (because the horse sure won't do it for you when the fence is on). High-impedance boxes only come in larger sizes and they are most fitted for very scruffy terrain, like where you would keep goats. You can have a lot of high grass touching your fence with one of those boxes on it before it will start to loose power.
If you have a stallion, or an untamed mustang, or an abused horse, you will want all three strands of rope hot, and likely you will want to make a slightly higher fence and even have four or five hot strands, just to give them a clear signal that they are to stay off the fence. Aggressive and/or easily excitable horses like this should not be put in mesh fencing or wire fencing because they might try to run through it at some point in time. As I said before, the tape and the rope are the two safest fence options, however the rope is a bit stronger than the tape.
As I read in a book, and have seen from my own horse, horses can tell when an electric fence is hot. There's something about their sensitive nose whiskers that allow them to detect the energy coming off an electric fence (which also means that you shouldn't cut those hairs and if you can avoid it-you may confuse your horse to the point it shocks itself repeatedly). Our horse will get closer to the fence when it's not on than when it is on.
Here's what not to do with an electric fence. My husband and I were in correspondence for a while with a friend's sister who had rescued a Percheron stallion from a neighbor who knew even less about horses than we know. She was doctoring him and fattening him back up and was looking to sell him to someone. Unfortunately, she just lived too far away for us to really consider him, because he sounded like an excellent horse, and was quite loving and friendly, even though he was a stallion. But it looked like he had lost the use of one of his eyes due to running into a tree branch (remember me warning you about those?). He had spooked into the tree because the man who owned him had put him in an electric fence, then wired the fence directly into his house. His horse got a 110 volts at regular amperage and it had electrocuted him so bad that he jumped into the tree branch and hurt himself. The only good thing to come out of it (besides the man deciding maybe he shouldn't try to keep horses), was that the horse was now so afraid of an electric fence he wouldn't come with two feet of one. So despite his being a stallion, even one strand of an electric fence was more than enough to keep him contained. But there's no telling what sort of attitude or spooking problems the horse might develop later on down the road because of it.
Please, please do not wire an electric fence directly into a regular plug! This is not how they work! You must buy a charger box and wire it to the fence, ground it, and then plug it into a regular outlet. The box will put out more voltage, but at very low amperage and this is enough to shock without causing lasting pain or heart damage (it's a shock, not an electrocution). There's a big difference between a shock and electrocution (just ask any electrician); don't electrocute your horse (or the neighbor's dog).
Installing the Charger Box
This is pretty easy. Get some insulated wire, strip 3-4 inches off one end and attach it to one strand of your electric fence. Strip an inch or so off the other end and attach it to the post indicated on your box. Sink a metal rod at least one foot in the ground and repeat above to wire it to the box.
You can connect multiple fence strands to each other either using more insulated wire or you can do as we did and use a few scrap pieces of electric rope. We cut away just the plastic rope, leaving 3-4 inches of wire on either end, then wrapped that wire around either strand of rope fencing (do the same thing with insulated wire).
Plug up your charger box and, with a voltage meter (a few bucks and found with the electric fencing supplies), check to make sure that you have adequate charge on each strand at a few different places along the fence line (like after each gate). If you are not getting connection on one strand, check your connecting wire and see if it's transferring electricity to the dead strand. If that is not the problem, or the entire fence is not working, walk your fence line and make sure that nothing is touching the fence, grounding it out. We puzzled over this same problem for nearly a day before I noticed that one of our ropes was touching a fence post. The last thing to check is that your grounding rod is deep enough.
Once your fence is fully functional, you can permanently mount your charger box (you don't do this first in case there's something wrong with it and you have to take it back). Solar charger boxes are easy; they come with a slot on the back so that they slip over a T-post and they're good to go. Plug-in charger boxes can be mounted to a wall in a garage or in some sort of wooden box. Ours lived outside for months (in the wet and cold, no less) just sitting on top of a plastic milk crate and seemed no worse for wear. My husband eventually built a little wooden box for it (metal "roof" on top, open on the front), but there's one problem with that: where your charger box is kept nice and dry, so are wasp nests, as I found out when I took the box down and found the biggest wasp nest I had ever seen before (lucky for me I ran faster than the wasps could fly).
This article in no way constitutes professional advice on keeping, maintaining, caring, feeding, grooming or doctoring a horse or any other large animal. Please seek medical and dental advice from a licensed veterinarian. Please seek hoof advice from a veterinarian or licensed farrier. Please see your local agricultural extension office for advice on poisonous and dangerous plants. Please see your agricultural extension office or a veterinarian for advice on feeding your horse a well-balanced diet. The author only presents the information contained in this article as a diary of the things that she and her husband have done for their horse that appear to have been beneficial (or, at the very least, neutral). Horses will vary and examples given herein may not be applicable to other horses. The author cannot assume any responsibility for any accidents or mishaps that result from following her example. Author and/or her husband may end up doing something foolish and killing their horse; you never know. Follow at your own risk.
Infanta and our 3-strand electric fence
Helpful Horse and Pasture Links
- Handling Feet
A good article on how to go about training your horse to lift its feet, while keeping you out of harm's way. I used parts of it when working with our horse's hind feet.
- Catching and Haltering
This is an article on how to catch a horse which runs away every time it sees you. I did this on our horse when we first got her and she was still nervous of us, and it WORKED! I recommend this technique to EVERYONE that has a horse that won't be cau
- Pallet Shed
A cheap, eco-friendly way to build a horse shelter. The original shed is a garden shed, but you get the idea of how to modify it to be a run-in shelter. Also, the design works if you need a shed for hay and tack storage (just be careful to seal it we
- Clicker Training Videos
This is a lady and her horse that I know from a clicker training list. She's got some great training ideas and if you're confused about how to clicker train, watching her will make it easier. (Free on You Tube)
- Horse Bits
Information on different kinds of bits and when and how to use them.
- Tractor Supply
This is where we buy our fencing supplies and a lot of our horse stuff. The manager, in particular, at our local store was a big help with our fencing questions.
- Harbor Freight
About the cheapest tool place you will find. As my husband says, if you only need to use a tool once a year, what do you need with a Craftsman? Get a cheap-made Chinese tool from HF, and with little regular use, it will last as long as you need it fo
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