Wilson Sisters Enjoy Peace of Mind With Safe Fence System
Any horse owner’s worst nightmare is finding their trusted mount tangled in a fence, cut, bleeding or maybe even dead from an encounter with a fence that has proven far from suitable for keeping them safe and contained.
No-one is more familiar with the risk of injury than Vicki, Kelly and Amanda Wilson.
Well known for their work taming wild horses around the world, the sisters are New Zealand’s most prominent equine siblings and have gained a public following both in New Zealand and internationally. They also have an enviable show jumping record, claiming many wins at the sport’s highest levels.
Over the years, thousands of horses have been through the Wilson Sisters property in Northland during camps and clinics, as well as their own team of performance horses.
While accidents are few and far between, the sisters have seen and experienced first-hand far too many encounters with typical high tensile farm fences, as well as accidents in gates and from post and rail fencing. These have included legs caught in fences, wire cuts and scratches and catching hooves in gates. They are injuries often requiring weeks of intensive nursing to get right.
Thanks to their relationship with Gallagher, the sisters were given the opportunity to have their property re-fenced with Gallagher equine fencing systems, including Equine Fence Wire, insulators and gates all designed specifically with horse’s needs and challenges in mind.
“We did a lot of research on different fencing options before choosing the Gallagher Equine Fence Wire. It ticked all the boxes for us,” says Kelly.
Working with Gallagher and the Fencing Contractors Association of New Zealand, the sisters pulled out the old standard farm fencing around the property and commenced a fencing makeover that has exceeded their original expectations.
“We wouldn’t have considered our original fencing to be that bad, and thought it was pretty typical. Sure we had the occasional injuries but so does every horse owner. When Gallagher pointed out room for improvement, we saw huge potential to eliminate many of the issues we’d been struggling with over the years. Now we look back and see so many injuries that could have been prevented if we’d put safer fencing in earlier.”
The Gallagher Equine Fence Wire used is a unique electrified polymer design with a wide diameter and smooth coating, reducing the risk of the wire entangling the horse or becoming caught in them.
“Some of the worst accidents we’ve seen are when the wire (either on a fence or gate) gets caught between the hoof and shoe. It’s even worse when the wire is electrified and the horse can’t get loose.”
Since installing the Gallagher wire eight months ago they haven’t had any injuries in the newly fenced paddocks and couldn’t be happier.
With a huge storm in the region last month, followed by Guy Fawkes, the Wilson Sisters’ local vets tended to a number of fence related accidents. One equine property had three injured and one dead.
“Our horses came through just fine, not a scratch on them. It’s a huge relief being able to go to bed at night, or away to shows on the weekend, and know the horses will be in their paddocks when we return and safer than ever before.”
The makeover also included complete replacement of the property’s gates.
“We had never been able to find a gate that was truly horse friendly. We have had some bad experiences, including a horse getting a hoof caught in the acute angle of a diagonal brace, after pulling the gate off the hinges. The horse did a lot of damage to its hoof and shoulders which took a long time to recover. If we can reduce the risk of potential injury not only are we able to keep our horses safer and sounder, but we also save a huge amount in vet bills and the loss of value in horses no longer able to perform.”
With its solid steel grid pattern there is no risk of horses getting their feet caught and the Wilson sisters were relieved to see the end of the haphazard collection of gates they replaced. With the grid mesh welded to the gate frame there is also no risk of the mesh separating from the frame which again reduces the chance of hooves getting stuck.
The fence system comprises largely of outriggers to prevent horses talking to each other over the fence, which can be a major cause of injuries with horses previously striking out through the wire. Below this are one or two hot wires.
Since installation the integrity of the fence system has been pushed to its limits when tasked with containing the sisters’ wild horses they have been training.
“Before we changed to Gallagher there wasn’t a paddock we could keep them in, they would go under, through or over any of the fences we had.”
However with the new system the paddocks effectively have an invisible barrier that horses are respecting.
“The Equine Wire is highly visible compared to usual fencing wire. There is far less risk that they will canter into it.”
But it is not only the safety of their wild horses that gives peace of mind to the sisters. They have recently taken on some high value show jumping horses, ultimately intended for Olympic campaigns.
“Their owners need to know they are well looked after and safe, and the Gallagher fence system ensures that.”
The Wilsons have had a number of equine colleagues come to look over the fencing, and leave convinced it is the best they have seen for containing horses.
“As a horse owner, the most important thing is keeping our equine partners safe, since changing to Gallagher we’ve noticed the difference and only wish we’d changed sooner” says Vicki.