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Living Fence/ Centaur Fence Questions

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  • Living Fence/ Centaur Fence Questions

    Sorry if this is long but I need some advice...

    I currently have my pastures in split rail fencing, probably about 12 years old that I need to do some updating. I'm tired of constantly picking up rails that the horses have knocked down and I'm looking into some alternatives.

    The perimeters of the pastures are gradually becoming a "living fence"-wild rose bushes, assorted shrubs,etc growing over and around my split rail fencing. I originally was going to clear it all to update the fencing but I'm now thinking of letting the living fence become the perimeter fencing. Am I crazy to do this? I like the idea of habitat for the wildlife and it seems to discourage trespassers, plus it eliminates the need to weedwhack around much of my fencing. Of course, fence repair will be next to impossible because of the heavy plant growth around my split rail fence-heck, I can't even see most of the fencing!!

    For the area closer to the barn and between the pastures, I am planning on putting up Centaur fencing. For those that use the Hot Rail, do you just do the top rail or the top 2 rails? Because my split rail posts are black locust, I plan to attach the Centaur fencing to the line posts and install new corner posts. Because $$ is limited, I can't afford to replace all the posts right now.
    And I know how tough black locust posts are to drill!!! For the Centaur that isn't Hot Rail, I'm planning on using Cenflex to save money. Any advice/opinions??

    Thanks for all your help-I thought the power of Coth's collective thinking will help me make the informed decision-usually I decide to do something and then find out why it wasn't the best idea!!
    Last edited by mkevent; Aug. 6, 2009, 08:12 PM.

  • #2
    I just had 3000 linear feet of the Centaur Hot Rail installed on existing 4x4's. It replaced Safe-Fence. I did all three rails as the Hot Rail (in brown). I have had so many complements on how great it looks. The only part that is "hot" is the very top of the "rail".

    I have a huge deer problem. They used to graze in the pastures with the horses and cross through the pastures. It seems to have deterred them as the fence seems taller and they are not able to get between the rails as easily as with the Safe-Fence.

    I got samples of the Centaur and Ramm products. I have to say that the Ramm was VERY inferior to Centaur. The sales rep from Ramm was surprised to hear this (???!!!??).

    IMHO, it was well worth the money we spent to do all three hot.


    • #3
      The "living fence" would be exquisite...IF you can be 100% certain that A] in fall/winter after the leaves have shed, it will remain enough of a barrier to guarantee containment, and B] it absolutely NOT get browsed on enough (by horses, deer, whatever else wants a nibble now and then) to compromise it's "fence" aspect.

      If you are only going to have two of three rails being Hot Rail (which I'm assuming is an electric fence product??) it would be best to have the top and bottom rails hot. Very few horses will reach between rails/wires of a hot fence -- but they will lean under pretty far under an unjuiced rail. (Exeption: if you have sooooo much pasture that vegetation growing up to and grounding out your fence is a bigger problem than horses reaching under for "just that exta bit of the good stuff".)


      • #4
        I would love to have a living fence as a perimeter fence. A perimeter fence should be there as a backup obviously if any horses get out. Hopefully this will never happen! I say to just look at it like a horse. Even in winter will it be thick enough to deter them? If everything is deciduous, then plant some bushes, shrubs, trees that will stay solid.

        I am using Centaur, but a much different setup. I think the rails are gorgeous but there was just no way we could afford it! I wanted something a little more solid so it would have taken 5 rails. We're doing a top rail (not hot) with 6 of white lightning below. We may make a couple of them polyplus and not hot if we decide to, but nobody's going near that fence! I would definitely make the bottom rail/strand hot. This will help keep out small animals and dogs. If money is limited, have you consider the coated wire?


        • #5
          Has anyone ever seen the "living fences" made by bending saplings or shrubs over and weaving them together? I can't recall what it's called. I think they do it in the UK in some areas (or did - it's one of those old customs, not necessarily still done).

          Anyway, I notice with the thick hedgerows here that there are always passageways made by the deer and followed by other animals like foxes. So care would need to be taken that there are not thin spots where wild animals duck under or squeeze through, gradually creating a gap.


          • #6
            Most of our HotRail customers use just one on the top. We have had some use also use
            it on the bottom rail, turned upside down to deter critters from scooting under the fence.


            • #7
              I ended up going with Ramm---I've done something a bit different in re: hot coat. I have the black 'three board' flex fence, with a hot coat rail on top, and then, inbetween the bottom 'rail' and the middle rail, I had the fence guy install a second strand of hot coat....
              I went with this, with the strong possibility that down the line, we may have a mini keeping my guy company, and I knew the lil' one could just squeeze right through otherwise! Hope I picked the right location for that, vs. 'on the bottom'.
              "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
              --Jimmy Buffett


              • Original Poster

                Thanks everyone for the replies and advice! My current "living fence" is the result of shrubbery (I always think of Monty Python when I say that word!) that has overgrown the original split rail, so technically there is still a fence there. We do have deer that come in through the fence and I'm not sure how to fix that unless I do the entire fenceline in Hot Rail and that means I have to decimate my living fence.(I'm sure I'll be pulling out stickers from my skin for years if I try that!)

                I'll be gradually replacing the rails with the Hot Rail or Cenflex-the top rail will definitely be Hot Rail-still deciding on the bottom 2 rails.

                Thanks again for the help-I just wanted to make sure I wasn't doing something stupid that I'd regret later!!


                • #9
                  I may be talking through my hat here..
                  Have you considered using electrobraid in place of the hot rail?

                  I think it might be easier to weave the electrobraid material through your existing fence and it should be enough to deter anyone from pushing through a gap.
                  As long as your posts are in good shape a hot wire on top, and maybe one on the lowest tier, should keep everyone in.

                  I am by no means expert on charged fencing so if this won't work for some electro-reason, sorry.
                  *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


                  • #10
                    Before you go spend a fortune on new fencing consider using shins on your post and rail fencing to tighten it up so the horses can't knock rails out. I've had to do that because when I needed replacement posts, the co. I bought the original P & R fencing from was no longer in business so I had to settle for what I could find around here. I had some slippage because the new posts weren't as sturdy so I started using shins where the rails met at the posts. So far it's worked really well.

                    I realize it isn't going to help on the areas of your P & R fencing that is already overgrown.

                    I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks msj-I hadn't really thought of trying that and maybe that will buy me some time (and sanity) until I update the fencing!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mkevent View Post
                        Thanks msj-I hadn't really thought of trying that and maybe that will buy me some time (and sanity) until I update the fencing!
                        Good luck. It really did work for me as I have one horse that thinks he's a beaver and in constantly munching on the rails. Consequently, rails start slipping out!

                        Now, mind you, you do need to keep an eye on those posts you've used the shins, but you'll be surprised at just how nicely they work.

                        I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


                        • #13
                          about the living fence thing.

                          I had a lovely, 10 foot thick, 8 foot high living hedge of blackberry and wild roses. It has kept my horses on my property better than anything else, including the mucho expensive three rail wood and electric that is installed elsewhere on the property. In 15 years, the living fence has required only an annual afternoon of trimming back so it doesn't take over the whole place. The other fences require considerable maintenance. Plus the blackberries are great to eat- they'll be getting ripe in the next few weeks.

                          Unfortunately, my new neighbour took it upon himself to remove about 30 feet of my hedge from my property before I discovered what he was doing. He's an organic gardener and thought he was doing me a favour, plus, he thought the hedge was on his property until I showed him the boundary markers. OOPS, he said. It will take about 2 years to grow back, in the meantime, I have supplemental electric step in posts in that area.
                          "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                          • Original Poster

                            CatOnLap- thanks for the info. I wasn't sure whether to be proud of myself that my lack of maintenance grew into something ultimately easier to take care of or embarassed that I let the fenceline go unattended for so long!

                            I'm really liking the idea of letting things go a bit "au naturale"(sp) for part of my property. Plus, it looks kinda cool-well, at least in the summer anyway!


                            • #15
                              We have had 4 rail centaur without hot rail for 10 years and the place the full size horses put their head through to graze is ALWAYS between the top rail and the next one down. Therefore, in a more recent installation we used hot rail on the one next to the top rail only and it has been completely successful. Truthfully I can't see how one would need all of the rails hot on a 4 rail fence unless you are trying to keep other animals out.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by mkevent View Post
                                Thanks everyone for the replies and advice! My current "living fence" is the result of shrubbery (I always think of Monty Python when I say that word!)
                                I sometimes call upon the spirit of Roger to guide me in tending my sickly young hedge-to-be.
                                My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

                                Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives


                                • #17
                                  With the flex fence (Ramm or Centaur/we have the Ramm and are happy with it and one hot wire on top though back when we did have a mini that did not do the trick for HIM!)
                                  Just keep in mind that if you are using existing fence posts that for the flex fence the posts need to be 10' apart. If your posts are more than that you will need to put extra posts between otherwise there is too much stretch and give to it.
                                  Providence Farm


                                  • #18
                                    my ramm was installed by a professional installer whos been doing it for 15 yrs, and he set them at 12 ft. spacing (?)...anyway...he's done a WONDERFUL job, and anyone wanting a fencer guy for Ramm in Virginia send me a pm for info!!
                                    Also, do you feel a hot coat line in between the middle rail and the bottom rail is enough to safely contain minis?

                                    "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                                    --Jimmy Buffett


                                    • #19
                                      I have heard repeatedly from numerous sources that 12' spacing is adequate for ramm/centaur fencing unless you are on really uneven ground.

                                      About mini spacing... although they can go through the fence in the middle, the only time ours ever escaped with wood fencing was by rolling UNDER! One rolled near the fence and ended up on the other side. Another one walks herself down the fence rubbing. She just keeps walking and rubbing until she's on the ground and voila... found her in the corn field one night! After that we stuck another rail on the bottom. For minis I would not do any less than 12'', preferably 10'' for the bottom rail/wire. In places where we had mini foals we did no less than 8''.


                                      • #20
                                        I have four rails (5.25) of the black centaur fence with one poly-coated eletric wire run along the top-inside of the posts. It keeps my guys from rubbing on fence, eating atop/between rails, etc.

                                        My advice- if you get any kind of flex fence- have at least the top wire/rail hot! Otherwise they will tear it down eventually!