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Help Deciding on Fencing in Midwest

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    Help Deciding on Fencing in Midwest

    We are in Southern Illinois bear St. Louis MO and need to re-fence our two smaller paddocks (and eventually everything else) that get constant use ASAP as my new 3yr old is really testing the fence lately. To be fair, the fence isn’t in great shape. Currently there is a mix of wood and t-posts with a mix of welded wire, no climb, and 4x4 tied mesh (which sucks).
    I like the idea / look of doing wood posts, welded wire, top wood rail with horse guard tape on the top rail to prevent chewing/ leaning. I am worried about the posts rotting as most of the existing posts have. We have a pretty wet/ damp/ humid climate (sitting at 99% humidity currently) with hard winters and hot summers.
    What we NEED: something that can be installed DIY (no room in budget to contract out), materials that can be sourced locally (Home Depot, Lowe’s, TSC, Ace, etc), long lasting (would like to get 10 years out of the posts), economical, and young horse/ foal safe.
    Would 4x4 pressure treated posts from Home Depot work? Or am I better off with the 4-5” rounds from TSC?

    Originally posted by kaya842 View Post
    Would 4x4 pressure treated posts from Home Depot work? Or am I better off with the 4-5” rounds from TSC?
    I would check the cost of 4 by 6 treated wooden posts, I have found them to be less likely to twist or warp into some odd shape

    As for welded wire, it has a tendency to break apart at the weld, you might want to look at a twisted knot fence. We have some Vmesh on steel pipe posts that has been up for 35 years without aging, there are other Vmesh fences close by that have been up since the1950s


      Original Poster

      The V mesh that is here from previous owners has faired the best, certainly, but I believe it’s the most expensive (by a larger margin). The twisted knit stuff we have comes apart at the ends where we use fence staples to attach to posts which is currently driving me insane. It is impossible to get the knots back together in a useable way after the horses have busted them.
      I will look into 4x6 posts!


        We ran what is commonly called aircable (also called wire rope) on the posts before installing the fence to the posts. Have turn buckles on each end of straight run to tighten the cable. The cable in nearly unbreakable so if a horse uses the fence as a butt rub the cable keeps the fence from stretching ( we have miniatures also) so ran two cable on low one at reg horse butt height

        I really do not recall any problem with a twisted knot unraveling

        You might find it a break even cost to have the posts drive if you are in a wet/high water area rther than dig/bore the post holes and then back-fill or concrete in. The only posts we concrete any more are steel. The wooden ones are hell to replace if they were concreted in place (at least here as we have lot of rock)

        I know you will enjoy the project once its done.


          Have you considered doing all Horseguard fence? We are installing 4 strands and doing everything ourselves. It's pretty simple to install on your own and we got the bipolar tape to ensure a shock even if the ground isn't doing a great job conducting electricity with a ground rod. You can install it on a mixture of wood and t-posts and they have pretty nice t-post covers if you decide to go that route. This was our cheapest option by far and right now we are fencing in about 1.5 acres total. It'll end up around $4500 all said and done with a solar charger and all wood posts set 12' apart.


            I did a paddock with wood posts, Cenflex rails (2) with room for a third at the bottom if necessary, and a top strand of HorseGaurd bipolar tape. Very very happy with this configuration.

            The Cenflex is available from HomeDepot or Tractor Supply by order. It looks best on flat terrian, but part of mine is on terraced land and it looks just fine to me. Don't know why CenFlex is not used more. So easy to install and no painting and no wires to cut or poke.

            Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


              I did my paddocks in v-mesh with a top hot Centuar flex rail on wooden posts recently. Working out great but $$. I did five acres of brown Centaur White Lightening 4 strands (hot) on wood posts. I think that would work for paddocks too. I swore off 4 board after years of fixing fences. I the budget allows consider having the posts driven. More money now but maybe not as much as you’d like and it will serve you well in longevity.


                I'm in the Midwest too & further North.
                I used a Centaur clone for top rail - 5" with 2 wires - set on 6" round treated posts @ 12'.
                Bottom 3 lines are coated tensile, top one can carry a charge.

                There is a LOT of tension in the rail & wires as they come off the roll, so although it is DIY, be careful with the spinning jenny.
                Friend's DH broke an arm when it sprang back.
                Mine was professionally installed - too much work for old lady on her own.
                After 16yrs, most of the lines are still as taut as when installed. Some could use retensioning, but my horses are not fence-testers.
                They do graze through the next-to-last line & that is the one stretched a bit.

                If I could do it over, I'd go with the electrobraid rope for all 4 lines.
                A friend installed that (with help) and said it was easier to work with.
                My top rail is starting to look ratty in places - chunks broken off, from natural wear & horses chewing - still sound for fencing, but no longer pretty.
                *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                  I have had electrobraid fence for nearly 10 years and it still looks fantastic. It was very easy for my DH and I to do in a weekend. It has had trees come down on it and I have only needed to fix broken insulators and retension the fence.

                  we have them on PT 4x4.


                    We just finished fencing some acreage for my goats and will put several beef cows in eventually. Even though I don't plan on putting the horses in there we fence so it is safe for any type of animal we have. We went to Orschelns and got their biggest round posts for the corners ( 8's I think). Not cheap but they are good solid posts and treated. Fencing is crazy expensive but if you pay it at the start it will eliminate the need to fix in the future.

                    Good wire stretched tight on solid posts will last a long , long time.


                      4x4s are not beefy enough for horse fencing, no.

                      I was really pleased with the no climb and centaur rail topper we installed when we were in the Midwest. You're not limited to home depot for supplies--there are lumber yards, lumber mills and ordering directly from the supplier (or local distributors.)

                      This is the brand of no climb we used.


                      It was very nice and a lot less $$$ than v mesh.


                        Welded wire won't really hold up to horses. It tends to break at the welds and then you have sharp ends poking out.

                        What do you mean by this?

                        > The twisted knit stuff we have comes apart at the ends where we use fence staples to attach to posts which is currently driving me insane. It is impossible to get the knots back together in a useable way after the horses have busted them.

                        Where it attaches to the posts, you're meant to unlock the knots and strip off enough of the vertical wires that each horizontal wire can go all the way around the post and back to itself. Then you wrap the ends over and around to lock them in place. Get one of these tools to save your fingers...

                        171001_6729 by Wendy, on Flickr

                        ... with Patrick and Henry


                          If you can avoid lumber for a year and scrimp by with T-posts, I would strongly suggest it. Lumber is absolutely outrageous right now. HD wanted 18 bucks for a PT 4x4. Maybe in a year costs will have stabilized.


                            Original Poster

                            wsmoak Unfortunately that is not how the previous owners had installed the fencing. They had goats and a knack for doing thing half a$$edly (hence the need for replacement ). When I say we are installing them like that - we are patching the existing fence as needed until we decide on permanent fencing.

                            I have mostly tossed out the idea of any fence that isn’t some sort of mesh top to bottom as these paddocks share the fence line with our close neighbors. Currently the house is for sale, however the old owners (moved before it sold thankfully) had both 2 small children and 2 dumb dogs. I never saw the kids out there unattended or at all really, but have no idea who will move in and would like to potentially deter nosey kids from climbing into the paddock (or attempting to). The dumb dogs would bark incessantly at the horses but again never came close. I figure between dogs, children and even grown adults it’s nice to have a fence that no one is tempted to see for themselves if the grass is greener.


                              As others said, don't use the welded wire. It is pretty weak, and a horse rubbing its butt or a misplaced kick will snap the welds. 2x4 welded wire is fine for dog fence or non-livestock use, but it is not safe for horses. Use 2x4" no-climb wire instead; it has "s" knots meant for horses, not the weak wrapped loops as seen on field fence (the big 4x6 mesh for cattle).

                              Wire must be properly stretched; you can use a truck, 4ft piece of rebar threaded thru the mesh, and big yellow ratchet straps from truck to rebar (top & bottom) to get the proper tension.
                              A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.
                              ? Albert Einstein



                                Originally posted by kaya842 View Post
                                wsmoak Unfortunately that is not how the previous owners had installed the fencing. They had goats and a knack for doing thing half a$$edly (hence the need for replacement ). When I say we are installing them like that - we are patching the existing fence as needed until we decide on permanent fencing.
                                You might be able to save the existing runs of the 'good' non-climb by detaching it from the current end post, stretching it (gently) from there and stapling it firmly to the next post, then stripping off the verticals and attaching it properly to that one. Before I did that I would dig out the second (new corner) post and concrete it, and then I would put in a horizontal brace.

                                To fill in the now-empty section you can use boards, a leftover bit of fence and stretch it as best you can, a panel firmly affixed to the posts, or consider a pass-through gate that swings against two additional posts set in a V-shape with the existing one. I love mine... it can never ever be left open, but I can get through it with a bucket or hay bag.

                                ... with Patrick and Henry


                                  Original Poster

                                  Definitely like the idea of adding in the “people gate” type walk through when we redo. And good nite about trying to salvage the good Vmesh. I wonder how tall it is ...
                                  How about metal pipe posts and top rail? I know cost is the biggest factor with metal pipe fencing but the idea of it being almost maintenance free is VERY alluring and we are only looking at a very small section to fence (currently at least).


                                    So I'm also in SI, within 2 hours' drive of St. Louis, and it sounds like about 1-3 years ahead of you, and that we're both in the same boat. Bought a place in 2017 that was corner posts, T-Posts, and twisted wire with some electric but not enough. With two clydesdales I thought to myself this half-a$$ed stuff just won't work, I'll have to put in fence. So as soon as I moved in, I got quotes for doing JUST the paddock. First dudes were from a Craigslist ad, estimated around $2500 but with zero detail about what I'd actually be getting. I mean it was a scribbledy sheet of paper with a number on it. Second estimate was around $4500 with a bit more detail about materials to be used. Third estimate was $9500 with lots of detail and references, and basically seeming to be the best horse fencing contractor around for my area. But yikes, I didn't have enough money to do any of those!!!

                                    So in 2017, I spent around $1700 on corral panels so that I would have a good secure area I could really rely on if I needed to be working on fencing and keep the guys penned up.

                                    In 2018, I really focused on the electric fencing. Had to learn a lot about it in order to fix the many problems this place had, and got the signal strength up quite a bit by fixing insulators, whacking weeds, and improving the grounding. Added a single strand around a pasture. This helped tremendously for the rest of 2018 and 2019.

                                    In 2020, as with the rest of the world, everything has gone to complete hell in a Clydesdale sized handbasket. The boys got unbelievably itchy from something, possibly lice, possibly regular fly bites. They've knocked the two free-standing posts they previously used for itching, and then started in on my corral panels and fencing. Several of the corral panels are completely trashed. And I had a horse go blind, so he's been smashing into everything, electrified or not. Ooh yay, fun way. Not. To top it off, I accidentally left the gate open one night so they went galavanting around for about 10 minutes, no harm done, except for the fact that now they've broken that gate twice more... it's like I put the bad idea into their pea-brained heads!!!

                                    So that's my whining and my background ... I've now amassed about $2K in materials but haven't really started putting it into practice yet. Still hoping I can do a better job than my predecessor. I have 3 weeks of vacation to use up, so am planning to do 2 days a week starting next week. Vendor wise, I've now used Amazon (1-man earth auger), Rural King, Lowe's, Facebook Marketplace for some used stuff, Home Depot, Menard's, and the Red Brand Fence website to get their little wire twisty tool and some staples. I'm loving Menard's for special orders ... drive into the yard, they load it up, and go. Masks everywhere, and no need to enter the store.

                                    Regarding post rot and lifespan, I'm planning on three things to try to help. One, I'm aiming for AT LEAST 3' depth which should be well below the frost line for this area. Two, I'm buying round posts that are pre-treated and marked as "Ground Contact," but then also applying another coating of Woodlife® CopperCoat™ Green Wood Preservative. Three, I'm digging an extra couple of inches byeond 3' so that the post will sit on top of a layer of drainage rock.

                                    Here are some of the resources I'm relying on for my project:
                           - Red Brand has some awesome videos that talk about the details of putting in the posts.
                           - awesome detailed article about how to do a fence post without concrete

                                    If you want to come down to my place for a tour of the disaster zone, and to see the electric that I've done and the gear I've lined up for some non-climb horse fencing, let me know.
                                    I've never understood the insult calling a person a "fruitbat." It's not much of an insult to the person. More often than not, the persons behavior proves it to be more of an insult to the fruitbat!