Chapter 8 says it all for horse fencing
Liz White grew up on her family’s remote northern New South Wales farm in the 1940s. Doing school by correspondence, her main companions were the horses her family relied on as work animals. Unsurprisingly, she developed a strong bond and deep understanding of them.
Fast forward to the mid 1970s, Liz and her husband Andrew began running horses on a little farm in the Adelaide Hills. Ten years later they moved to Moggill, near Brisbane, establishing Riverside Equestrian Centre on the banks of the Brisbane River.
The 22-hectare (54-acre) property has around 40 horses, including some agisted.
Andrew says, “We cell graze, so we run in them in fairly high density in mobs of eight to 10, moving them between our 14 paddocks.”
In the 2011 floods, 85% of Riverside was under water.
“The wooden strainer posts were literally floated out of the ground, so when the flood waters receded, all our fences were down. I replaced all of the strainer posts with steel strainer posts, just cemented in the ground.”
Around the same time, the geologist was on a gold-exploration project near Cootamundra.
“The landowner was running Angus-Wagyu crosses, growing Wagyu beef for the Japanese market. I wasn’t looking for something different, but I was admiring his fence and, one-third of me being a farmer, I thought ‘that’s a pretty flash-looking fence’.
After he told me what it was, I rang, ordered the stuff and put some Westonfencing up.
“Liz wrote a book a few years ago, Riding the Magic Horse, a culmination of all her years riding and training – including problem horses.
As she says, a frightened horse is not looking where it’s going: it’s looking back to try and see what frightened it. Their eyes are independent of each other, so they can look back both sides to see what the hell spooked them. So they can run into the side of a shed because they’re not looking where they’re going! And they will also run into fences. We’ve seen examples of people putting up very expensive post-and-rail fences, steel and timber and high fences and all the rest, and horses still run into them.”
“We set up the Westonfence so that the top and bottom wires in a four-wire fence are electrified, and the middle two are straining the fence up.
The bottom wire is about 60 centimetres off the ground, because if you have wires low down the horses will put their foot through the fence, catch their hooves and damage their hocks. The horse will still run into the fence, but if that stretches the top wire, we just go and strain it up.
But if the horse hits the Insulated Suspension Posts, they just straighten themselves up. What we didn’t anticipate was the reduction in injuries due to horses running into fences.
Since 2011 we have had only one significant injury and we think that in this case the horse tangled with a steel dropper. Otherwise, the plain wire just stretches a bit and the horse walks away undamaged.
“Before the floods we had plain-wire fences with stand-off electrified wire. With the standoffs, if the fence goes off the horses find out quickly and lean against it and bend the spring wires in the standoffs. So we were forever replacing those, and it’s a pain in the butt. The beauty of the Westonfence is the Insulated Suspension Posts are insulators as well.
“In the book in chapter eight where we deal with farm management, we have no hesitation in saying the Westonfence is the way to go for horses.”
No experience, ‘dead easy’
The Whites are using Westonfence for all Riverside Equestrian Centre’s internal fencing, amounting to about 10 kilometres.
In attempting to keep up with his wife’s horse passion, Andrew had tried all kinds of fences for horse management.
“Putting up the Westonfence was dead easy. I got a bobcat with an auger attachment, then drilled all the strainer holes and the strut holes with the auger. I put the posts in, concreted them, waited for the concrete to set and then just rolled the wire out with a simple wire spinner through the Westonfence posts. The only bit of hard work was pushing the posts out, spacing them at three metres apart. Then I drove the star pickets in with the bucket on the bobcat.”
Previously, the Whites used just a couple of big energizers to power the whole property.
“But now, we have gone for small Gallagher solar-powered energizers to power one or two paddocks at a time. Also, Liz and I are both 77, so time is too pressing to be mucking around finding out where shorts are.
“I can tell you, over the years we’ve tried every damn sort of fence. Horses will do whatever they can to damage themselves, but not with this. Chapter eight of Riding the Magic Horse has got it all: use Westonfences for horses if you’ve got any brains!”