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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 19, 2009
    Posts
    143

    Default Creek in pasture-fence off?

    Hi, I am planning fencing out for a new property. The pasture area has a creek that runs thru it. It's probably 6-8 feet at the widest, and shallow but has clear, moving water.

    Should I fence it off to prevent my horse getting stuck in mudd, or during winter ice?

    I know this sounds silly but the last time it was inhabited by horses (years ago) the previous tenant had put up electric to keep the horses out.

    My horse once lived at a farm where they had small creeks in the pastures. I think the owner used his tractor bucket to "shore them up", back blading mud/dirt to keep the sides firm.

    Are they a risk?? Or should I just allow my horse to use it as a water source if he chooses? (Will use water trough too)



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
    Posts
    4,636

    Default

    I love having creaks or streams in a pasture-- that extra water source can be a real peace of mind. I've never had a problem with horses getting stuck in mud or ice. And the horses seem to like having access to them.

    There are a few advantages to fencing it off-- it's better for the creek banks and ecosystem. Water gates can be an escape point for houdini horses. And it can prevent the risk of injury if the banks are steep and your horses aren't sensible when turned out.

    But honestly, if it were me, I'd be thrilled to have the stream and keep in unfenced!
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 24, 2006
    Posts
    1,108

    Default

    Love my creek in the horse pen. Some areas will have newish laws on livestock around waterways, might want to look into that. Also, if it floods it could take out your electric fence if you don't know how high it actually gets. If it's running, it may not ever freeze over, mine doesn't- just the edges will and the horses just reach a little longer with their neck to get it.
    Kerri



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 27, 2013
    Posts
    47

    Default

    Yes check locally about any laws, this has been and on again, off again proposal in our area that they must be fenced off, so far no go. But check you may have no choice in the matter.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 4, 2003
    Location
    Clinton, BC
    Posts
    1,376

    Default

    Local laws may prohibit livestock from entering creeks, they cause damage to the creek and fish that may inhabit it. So you may be forced to fence it off. There may also be restrictions on it's use, you will need a water license for livestock watering to be able to use it legally. If you can use it but must fence it, ranchers put a V in the fence that allows access to the water, but keeps livestock from actually entering the creek much. This works well.

    There is a danger if the creek freezes solid, or has a large area that freezes. Two horses locally that I know of in the last few years have been either killed or injured by falling through ice in winter on the creek. So if it freezes, there is danger here. Let alone slipping on the frozen surface.

    Getting stuck in mud is only a problem if there is a spring present, or swamp that is bottomless. Regular muddy areas that are not an actual spring will not hold a horse from getting out successfully. Make sure there is no spring in an area you are using as pasture. If there is, fence it off.

    But it is a great water source for horses, always fresh. Mine prefer drinking out of our creek to anything else really. We have livestock watering rights on it.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 16, 2012
    Posts
    197

    Default

    I fenced the pond in my pasture off - our soil is clay and the previous owners horses had chewed up the banks into a bog, and killed off the bull rushes which really degraded the water quality. If you want to use it as a water source, fence it off and use a windmill or solar pump to fill a trough.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2003
    Location
    Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
    Posts
    6,696

    Default

    Living in salmon country here in the PNW, essentially all moving bodies of water are off limits to livestock/horses. Our creek is totally off limits to our horses (salmon spawning stream down stream from us) as per law. Water quality suffers when horses are allowed in, but I can see parts of the country where it wouldn't be a problem. Check with local laws, then maybe try giving them access. You can always fence later??
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2007
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    4,920

    Default

    If I were ever so lucky to have a creek in my pastures I would fence it all off except for one crossing. Saves the riparian zone and I guess if you're afraid your horses can hurt themselves on a creek it would save the horses too!

    IME horses destroy riparian zones, not the other way around....


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep. 26, 2011
    Location
    WNC
    Posts
    687

    Default

    If you find out that you have to fence it off because of local regulations, contact your Soil & Water Conservation office to see if they have a program that will pay for part of the cost. They do in our area of NC because it encourages people to voluntarily protect the water quality.
    It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep. 2, 2005
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    11,672

    Default

    I would be less worried about the horses having a problem with the creek and more worried about the creek having a problem with the horses.

    As others have posted, there are all kinds of rules/laws now regulating what contact your livestock can have with a creek or pond. Check into that.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2008
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,354

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GotMyPony View Post
    If you find out that you have to fence it off because of local regulations, contact your Soil & Water Conservation office to see if they have a program that will pay for part of the cost. They do in our area of NC because it encourages people to voluntarily protect the water quality.
    This is what we did - they not only paid for the fencing, they paid for us to install a well for our water source. I wasn't that keen on having my horses in the creek anyway so it was a win-win situation for all involved!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec. 19, 2000
    Location
    Heaven - Rappahannock County, Virginia
    Posts
    1,826

    Default

    we have a wet weather creek that runs through our pastures. it is open in some areas and tunneled underground in others. i don't have it fenced off, but i do have a strand of electric braid that runs down the middle of it (it goes from tree to tree) to prevent the horses from crossing it. we did this to keep them from eroding the banks. 8 years later and it's proven to really do the trick.
    * trying hard to be the person that my horses think i am



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2009
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    5,138

    Default

    As a stream biologist -- YES, LIVESTOCK SHOULD ALWAYS BE FENCED OUT OF A STREAM.

    Hooved animals cause massive amounts of erosion and damage to the banks and substrate of the stream, as well as direct introduction of fecal coliform bacteria. As a previous poster stated, cost share programs are available to build livestock exclusion fencing and alternate water sources.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 24, 2005
    Posts
    2,211

    Default

    I have a lot of creek frontage on my property. It was included in the pasture when we first bought the property and continued renting pasture to a neighbor's horses. They kept the creek clear of weeds and undesireable trees. Later, with the addition of mules, they began damaging the creek so I fenced it off and left that fence up for several years even after I had only a few horses (mine) on it. There was a lot of vegetation that grew up and the trees grew there. A few years ago I took down that fence and my horses have access to the creek and have established about three crossings/watering areas - one every 1/3 mile or so. I don't see any damage from the horses and the old damage was only because of the mules. I've had creeks in pastures for most of my life and haven't encountered anything that seemed dangerous - ponds are different. The keeping the grass and vegetation to a manageable level is a benefit also.

    As for fecal matter, these creeks in our area are fed in some part by irrigation runoff - so fecal matter is not appreciably increased by having livestock on the creek - it's already there.

    I have to go back and address the issue of hooves on the creek. My horses graze on the solid parts of the banks where I was talking about their keeping the vegetation to a healthy level, but they don't get near the spring areas that feed the creek. (though I did have a young calf here once who went through the old creek fence and got somewhat stuck in the spring) I know they can damage it and it's something to watch for (which is why I fenced the old horses/mules out) but I don't think it will necessarily be a problem.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2007
    Posts
    8,427

    Default

    If you're going to fence a couple of horses out of a stream, should fence out the deer, bear, otter, beaver, elk, and moose, too????

    If you're talking about a couple of horses you're not going to have measurable stream damage. If you're running a few dozen, or a bunch of cattle, then the story is different.

    There are also variables for type of stream bank, composition of the bank, composition of the stream bed, etc.

    Unlike cows, horses don't generally stand in water for any lenghth of time. They go, drink, and then go back to eating or resting until the next time.

    Unless required by law or vagarities of site I'd leave it as a regular water source.

    G.

    P.S. I have somewhere between 3 and 5 miles of streams (continous and seasonal). None are fenced. None have any damage to banks from horses watering. I don't run any cattle.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2007
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    4,920

    Default

    You'd be amazed at the difference to the riparian environment if you fenced it off except for crossings/water access. Most of the ranchers I know do not just run their livestock or even just a horse or two on the length of the creek, even when they have sections of land, not acres. We had a 1200 acre horse pasture on our ranch and the creek was fenced off most of the time. That creek was one of the country's best fly fishing creeks.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2002
    Location
    Cow County, MD
    Posts
    6,929

    Default

    In Maryland, you must fence off at least ten feet from the creek. I was thrilled when my neighbor finally fenced his cattle out of the creek that is the dividing line for our properties. I had a lot less flies this year, too. Don't know if that's because the heifers were no longer keeping a muddy, poopy, wet quagmire or they were simply further away. Either way, I'm pleased.
    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2003
    Location
    Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
    Posts
    6,696

    Default

    We don't get to choose in my locale--no livestock in creeks, wetlands, etc. It all matters. It is all about destroying the riparian zone and it all "flows downstream" if you will. It doesn't sound like the OP has 1200 feet of creek to spread out amongst two horses. Fence them out.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2003
    Location
    Michigan, USA
    Posts
    3,107

    Default

    In addition to all of the reasons for fencing it off listed above, looking for an expensive, lost therapeutic shoe in a stream sucks lemons, FWIW....
    *CrowneDragon*
    As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


    1 members found this post helpful.

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