Keeping horses requires keeping them safe inside suitable fences that can resist large animals wanting to explore the neighbor's flower garden. Types of horse fencing range from very expensive but showy vinyl to practical and inexpensive electric fencing. The fence you build will depend on your budget, but it should always be "horse-proof."
Horse Fence Requirements
Any horse fence must be easy to see, strong and durable and reduce, as much as possible, the chances of a horse hurting itself by coming in contact with it. Never use barbed wire for horse fencing. Its relatively low cost may be more than offset by veterinary bills for ripped skin and damaged legs torn by the barbs. Many horses have died from tangling with barbed wire, so stick to smooth wire, wire mesh, electric wire, vinyl or stout boards (at least 2x6 inches).
Wire vs. Boards
Corrals and fences built with wooden rails mounted on neatly painted wooden posts or railroad ties can be very attractive, but are much more expensive to build and maintain than fences built with wire. Smooth wire, either twisted two-strand or single strand, is one of the most inexpensive materials for creating a permanent horse fence. Use a minimum of three strands, and many people prefer four or five, spaced 8 to 10 inches apart up the post.
Meshed field fence is another sturdy material often used to enclose horse pastures. It is somewhat more expensive than smooth wire and a little more difficult for a single individual to hang. Use it for smaller enclosures or to prevent an animal reaching through the fence in any way.
Wooden or Metal Posts
Using wood will always drive up the cost of your fence and requires more work to install, but wood is more attractive and much safer to use around horses. Metal T-posts are easy to drive, inexpensive and last for many years; however, they are more easily displaced or destroyed by horses leaning on the fence, and horses can impale themselves on them.
T-posts, railroad ties and manufactured wooden posts are readily available at most farm supply stores. All can be used to hang smooth wire, wire mesh, or electric wire, but T-posts will not accommodate wooden rails. Heavy-duty metal pipe used for posts can be drilled to mount rails but is more often used for welded pipe fencing.
Electric fences are the most inexpensive, but have certain drawbacks. You will need a fence charger, which often requires proximity to an electric outlet, or frequent checking of batteries. You will also need to periodically check that nothing has leaned against or gone through the fence and shorted it out. You can create temporary fences from fiberglass rods made to accommodate electric wire or tape. Two or three strands of white electric mesh present a formidable barrier to most horses when the fence charger is working, but no obstacle at all if the power goes off or the charger quits. Horses can often sense when the fence is electrified and when it is not. Determined "fence-crawlers" will go through it given any chance. For permanent horse enclosures made of wire, use T-posts or wooden posts with tightly-stretched smooth wire or mesh, topped with a single strand of electric wire.