Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Damage They Do

Jason and I are continuing to set records that we don't particularly want to own, namely ones that involve determining how many hours we can work in a day.  Spring is definitely here. One of Jason's current projects is replacing fence boards at my parents' farm . My dad would not let us use a hotwire on any of the wood fences at his farm. Not because he thought a hotwire was mean, quite the opposite in fact, but because he felt electric fencing of any sort interfered with the signal from his ham radio towers. 

After dealing with wood fences for a few years that had nothing on them to encourage horses to leave them alone, one of the vows Jason and I made when we purchased and built our farm was that our fences were not ever going to be easy targets for cribbers, wood chewers and scratchers. The damage horses will do to just about anything is quite impressive when they are given the opportunity. We have something like six miles of four board wood fence at our farm and every bit of has a hotwire on it. And I do mean HOT.  I have personally made the mistake of grabbing the wire on more than on occasion and damn, you would think I would have learned after the first time.  Over the last three years we have replaced exactly ONE fence board that was broken due to a horse. We have replaced a few other boards that were broken when tree limbs fell on them but we can live with that. 

One time someone made the comment that it was mean to have a hotwire on the fence. A couple of times people have tried to tell me their cribbers don't need to wear a cribbing a collar. Well, today Jason worked on replacing chewed and cracked fence boards in ONE pasture at my parents' farm.  He bought a pallet of 84 boards. Each board is 14 feet long so it can be cut in half and used to replace 168 boards since each section of fence is seven feet long. He used every single board on just one pasture. I find it mind blowing that he replaced 168 chewed or otherwise damaged boards in one pasture. In addition to the boards he also replaced three fence posts.

To be fair this pasture was where a particularly destructive group of horses lived but still, that is ridiculous. In addition to 168 boards and three posts he has about 20 hours of work into repairing the damage from the cribbers, chewers and scratchers. God help us, can you imagine if the cribbers hadn't had collars on?!  Jason went and bought another pallet of 84 boards today to start on the next pasture. We are hoping it won't actually take the entire pallet of boards for the next pasture and maybe it will be enough for a couple of pastures. At some point I imagine Jason will be buying a third pallet of boards. If he does go through three pallets of boards he will have replaced 504 boards (and I undoubtedly made him cry like a baby as he read that).  

After having the "pleasure" of tackling this project at my parents' farm I can assure you that anyone who attempts to remove the hotwire from our pasture fences will be met with deadly force. Anyone who tells us their cribber does not need to wear a collar will get a smile and a nod, and the collar will stay on.  Not to mention it is always good to remember that the safest fence for any horse is the fence they have no desire to touch. We have done our best to make sure they have no desire to touch our wood fences! 


Flyer, Gibson and Lofty

O'Reilly, Fabrizzio, Lucky, Merlin and Walden

Gus, Silver and George

Apollo and Trigger


Kennedy with his signature drooping lower lip

Norman and MyLight

Traveller and Cuff Links

Silver, Gus and Donneur

Lily and Maisie

Faune, Romeo and Lotus


Anonymous said...


KarenTX said...

I cnsider hot wire, used correctly, as a safety measure! Not to mention $ saving measure!

foffmom said...

I love hot wires!! And really, the four board plank fencing has to be the most laborious high maintenance fencing ever invented. Before I had some, I thought it was so beautiful!! It means horses after all. Now I know better. The only thing that helps maintain it is a protective hot wire.Or two. Or three.
But really, I now hate board fencing. I think it is now a very impractical fencing. I know, it means horses.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

My fencing is hot rope braid... that's what was here when I bought the place, and is low on the list of upgrades. I love the look of lumber though - your setup would be my ideal.

That said, Val has touched our fence exactly once. He gets super worried - snorty with giant eyes - when I touch it for repairs and such. Respect ;D

Lynda said...

Help Melissa...please explain what floating teeth means and crabbers....thanks!

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

Hi Lynda! Cribbers are horses that grab onto something firm with their top front teeth (usually the fence or a stall door for example), then arch their neck and suck in wind. It is basically an OCD type of behavior. When they latch on to the fence over and over they do a lot of damage over time. Teeth floating is when they have their teeth filed to smooth out any sharp points or hooks that have developed on their teeth. It is typically doneonce per year although some horses need it done more frequently.