The Ugly: You Call That A Fence?

Horses Killed On Interstate

I’ve been to Webb Ranch. It’s a sprawling facility covering a lot of scenic acreage, and according to their homepage currently boards 250 horses. I can attest to that figure. I can also attest to something else; namely the quality of fencing.

I went to the ranch to meet an Internet friend and her horse for the first time. It was also a great opportunity to stake out a possible boarding facility for one of my horses, since I was new to the area. The driveway is long and winding, so long it acts as an independent road and the ranch itself is more than a 1/2 mile from the secondary road that it’s connected to. But that secondary road is right off a very busy six-lane highway.

Within seconds of getting in view of the barns and stabling area, I knew there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d bring a horse there to board. There’s hardly a fence on the property that could hold a pony. I saw many fences that barely came to chest level of the horses behind them. Lots of broken boards, broken posts or too small posts that moved with a little pressure, and lots of ‘wiring’ jobs. It therefore comes as no surprise to me that these four horses ‘escaped’ the ranch, even though this escape is being blamed on a gate not being locked. I suspect ‘escapes’ are a regular occurrence, at least the condition of the fencing suggests such a thing with all the temporary fixes I saw. Don’t believe me? Have a look at the pictures in the article. And that’s some of the better fencing.

I also know that the cost of boarding at this ranch isn’t cheap and at the time my friend said there was going to be a price increase. Depending on the housing situation, upwards of $750/mo. For that price your horse got a stall in a barn with an attached paddock. Some of those paddocks were pipe fencing and pretty solid. For $100 less per month you got a small paddock with shelter and fencing as seen in the news article, or worse. A lot of the horse owners have done their own fence repair jobs. (I don’t recommend hiring any of them for construction work.)

Raise your hand if you could sleep at night knowing that ‘that’ was all that separated your horse from a possible run down a busy American highway.

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9 thoughts on “The Ugly: You Call That A Fence?

  1. I wouldn’t want to board any of my horses on an organic farm for a number of reasons. Fencing is a huge issue. When one goes organic technically they cannot have painted wood, preserved wood, or pressure treated wood. Dosn’t make for good long lasting fencing.Horses on organic farms cannot be fed hard grains (ie GMO) or chemically fertilized hays. No such thing as giving antibiotics to a horse or using any thing on their feet that might react to the enviroment , ie coppertox. Forget about worming too. So unless they are vigilent on removing manure from the area I cannot see how they can have horses and organic farming on the same property. That being said Fencing is alway a pet peeve of mine. We don’t use electric, we perfer horse wire page and then 3 to 4 boards 2×6 per 10 feet, plus a round top rail. None of our paddocks share a fence line either, we have alleyways throughout. I always wondered how people could fence inadequately because for us to have our insurance we do have to have our fences at least 5 ft in height. Cannot just have electric either. If our animals get out and we injure someone or cause damage especially to vehicles, and our fencing was at fault we are liable. Dunno rules must be a bit different depending on where one lives. I did notice a pic where there is a cowboy repairing fencing and it looks like barb wire, rather surprised me to see this pic as it dosn’t show what a pic is suppose to show your property at it’s best. I would dump the pretty cowboy pic and show a different type of image. Kids in helmets picking up horses feet and cleaning them would be far better IMO.

  2. I’ve seen many places I would never board. Sometimes for reasons of care and knowledge and often times for reasons such as, terrible fencing, unsafe stalls, awful footing. Maybe because I’ve always worked at or managed where I rode, I have little tolerance for sub-standard maintenance. If things are taken care of right away, and regularly, it doesn’t take much time and saves so much trouble and money in the long run. It breaks my heart to think of those poor horses.

  3. I remember you mentioning that there was no way you would put your horse into pens like you saw. And now this just proves that was a good decision on your part.

  4. I am pretty darn fussy about where my horse is! No wire fencing is just a start. Following that, even if I ride everyday, my horse must have a run big enough to move around and the stall/shelter must be safe and available but never locked in 24/7. Horses are pretty smart about how they use their facility but not very smart about getting into trouble with unsafe objects/care. An old cowboy friend of mine (RIP) used to say “there has not been a horse born that doesn’t try to commit suicide!” so we have to protect them by making all things safe. They obviously haven’t received the news!

  5. I am lucky enough to have my own land, which was all barbed wire when I came to it 40 years ago. I spent a lot of time and money changing it to stock fencing and post and rail- an ongoing battle too as not long a go one of my mares presented herself to me with about two foot of barbed wire wound in her tail! I have NO idea where she found it, but find it she did. I got it out without cutting the teil with a can of WD40 and a lot of patience. Whatever can happen, will happen and it looks to me as if that place is one huge accident just awaiting it’s chance to do just that. Because it has been there 90 years (I can well believe that some of that fencing looks original) people think it must be OK- without stopping to think that, since it has been there so long, it has changed hands at least twice during that time, maybe more than that, maybe three or four times, and the skill that may well have been there at the beginning looks as if it has long since departed. Those gates- I am presuming that loose chain is the “lock”- would not hold any of my animals for two seconds.

  6. Wow, my barn only charges $500/month and it’s got a mixture of hot-tape and horse-mesh depending on the pasture and the horse. Escape artists went into the mesh pastures. A tall chain-link fence surrounds the property’s edge so horses are kept safe. Walk-ways are either gravel or dirt to prevent slipping and the stall isle is grooved concrete. Pastures are of good size. Stalls are a nice size. May be a little small for a large horse but an average to small horse would be absolutely fine. The barn is kept clean and tidy, tack is organized and grooming supply buckets are labeled by what horse they belong to and kept tucked away in a cabinet. Each stall has a shelf and compartment in it for owners to keep medicines and the like for their horse there. The “dump pile” is in a concrete area so it’s easily cleaned up. There are three arenas. A fairly normal-sized indoor arena with a square arena attached to one side and a large outdoor arena. They have strict safety rules like everyone under the age of 18 wears a helmet (according to the law), and everyone wears a helmet when jumping. There is no jumping while unsupervised. No kids going into the “stallion barn” without a rider or barn personnel. The stallion is friendly and gentle, but you never know. The horses are nice and there is quite the range. Quite a few Lipizzans, several Thoroughbreds, a couple Morgans, a few ponies, etc. of every difficulty level and temperament (besides really nasty, we have a couple grumps, but no one nasty). That $500 includes feed, working the horse for you at your request, turn-out, use of every arena, and they will handle calling vets and farriers for you as long as you put your horse on the “vet/farrier list”. The only draw-back to many inquiries is the last time I check, the only boarders she allowed were those taking lessons/working at the barn. All of that for $250 less a month? Plus it’s a safer barn.

    My horse is possibly the clumsiest horse alive so she needs a safe environment!

    • Quill, it sounds like your barn is beautiful! Someday I hope our acrage at home has these improvements. Currently we are working on replacing fencing. . .I will be so excited when that is finished!

      • Thanks, I hope I never have to move too far away, I love it and it’s been blessed with not having any snobs. Like at all. Good luck to you with your fencing, I’m sure you’ll get a beautiful acreage!

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