i have been looking at renting a pasture for my horses, finally found one that i thought would be perfect except one side of the pasture is all river, great water supply but what the heck, wheres the fence? they just use the river as a fence. i know some one who used this same pasture before and never had any issues but i cant help but think they might just swim away!
i am no longer interested in this pasture unless i can find a way to fence in the pasture but keep a way to give them constant water supply.
so what i am wondering is do people actually ever use water as a a 'fence'? i know that there are lots of cows along this same river (very long) that have no fence on the water, but it never occured to me that it would work with horses, or be very safe!
I'm trying to remember but I believe that every fence I've ever seen that tried to use a natural object as a fenceline was a fail. Our landlord used thick brush and berry bushes as a hedge and within six months his sheep had made their way through the berry bushes, and the brush owning property owner cleared the brush. We had an extremely steep unfenced slope on one part of our property and lost a Barbados sheep one rainy night.
Obviously along that river people do keep cattle, but for a large producer a certain rate of loss is built into the business model and they may consider the cost of fencing outweighs a swimming cow or two.
When I was a kid, I kept my mare at a farm that did the same. Worked for the first year, then once during a heat cycle, she crossed the river and took all the others with her... she was rather adventurous, lol. Wouldn't advise it.
In many places it is totally illegal to not fence animals from being able to enter streams, rivers, etc. Here you have to keep all animals out. It pollutes the water and causes many problems with erosion as well. NOT a good idea.
Agree with others...and even water-shy animals get rather used to water if they're pastured with it. So over time they''ll test it out.
It's nice having a stream or shallow river going through a paddock for a water source (ponds not so much for bug breeding issues) but not as a fence/boarder.
There's a property down the street from me that has an enormous 30+ acre paddock (that's huge for this area) with a tree lined all season stream going through it. The stream is about 10' wide and most of the time in summer only about 3' deep. On really hot days I get a laugh when I drive by because the 4 horses and one giant ox in that paddock will all be standing in single file belly deep in cool water in the shade. It's cute as heck!
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
Also to consider is the flood height of the river. If you walk along you might see branches or dried grasses stuck up in the trees or brush, which would indicate the typical high water mark. Even if you run an electric fence down along the river, you'll want to know when and how badly it typically floods, so you can move the fence in preparation during bad weather/spring/etc.
Call your local USDA- NRCS office. In MOST counties- they will pay 75% of the cost to fence animals OUT of waterways. They often will provide either a stream crossing (if river goes through a pasture) or pump/tank to provide water to animals they cut out off river access to.
Back before I knew better, a BO reassured me that none of the horses ever got out of the pasture that was bordered by the 30 foot wide stream. My 19 yr. old Appy gelding and yearling filly proved her wrong. Fence went up shortly after.
I have so many horses that have swam straight across our lake regardless of how high it was; at its fullest it's about 25' deep in the center. When it's hot, they love to take a dip & come out on the other side. I don't see a river as something a horse would stop at if it took a notion to go across.
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Haven't read the other replies... but I am bordered on two sides by brookes and banks/cliffs/ledges... whatever you want to call them.
Until the Little Medicine Hat Mare, I never had a charged perimeter fence on those two sides. No one EVER crossed. They did drink from the brookes (which get very high in spring, but are just a trickle in late summer) but because of the very steep banks and the big drops on the sides, never fussed with crossing.
Miss Medicine Hat Mare was All About being the Indian Pony when she first came. Crossed right over, scrambled up 45 degree ledges, and went to the neighboring pasture to graze. She didn't care if she left the herd.
Now that she is more socialized (3 years later) She does not challenge the natural borders either. But, I will never *quite* trust her... OTOH, the only thing on the other side is 13 acres of pasture I used to lease... so no biggie.
So... yes and no. It worked for everyone else... but not for her. Now it does work for her, unless she gets it in her head she wants to go on Walkabout again.
Depending on what is on The Other Side, I would fence and charge... or... not.
Years ago, my husband and I floated the Missouri River in Great Falls MT. We had a great time. We saw lots of horses hanging out at the rivers edge in a couple different spots. No fencing fenced them from "going walkabout". I was amazed they were "contained" by the river. They were not wild. So, there are people who DO use a river for a fence. That is a big, deep river. We were going down the river and they were on our left.
When we moved to our property, we used a natural barrier as a fence. It was a long stretch of a creek, a small trickle, but to get to it there was lots of brush, trees, vines, and then there was a big drop to the creek. Hay field on the other side. I had my arab stallion on the property and he was with my very very experienced endurance horse. Nobody ever went through there. The experienced horse knew better to go down there, so the colt wouldn't go either. It was a visual and physical barrier. Dogs could go through, but not horses. There was one spot we could have fenced (few years later) and they could have had access to the creek, but we didn't. We own half that creek. Maybe some day we will get a GIANT bulldozer and clean all that out. We toss all brush and limbs and other natural things like grass clippings, leaves, sticks, etc on the other side of that fence. With or without the fence now, there is too much for a horse to get through.