Unmarked Territories (Part 2): Finishing Our Fencing Project at RAMM
In last months article we started to 'follow' Debbie's fencing installation at RAMM Horse Fencing and Stalls in Swanton, OH. We invite to you to follow her during the actual install, (out in the field), as well as in the barn where portable stalls are being built! With the fencing now completed, she will give you more time saving tips and ideas that will help everyone that has a horse, fencing and a desire to learn more! It wont be long and her horses will arrive at their new home. Here is you opportunity to see how the RAMM fence was built, and to see the final outcome of bringing her horses home!
I wondered if I could truly believe that the fencing would be finished within the week. Everywhere I looked there were posts in the ground and string lines everywhere! The weather was supposed to hold out, from heavy rains, and we were actually getting bright sunny days. I knew that the concrete was going around all the braces that day. The fields were so wet that we could not call for a concrete truck, so we decided to use bagged concrete.
The footer around the brace is one of the most important parts of any bracing system.
All brace posts need to be the proper depth in the ground (according to frost depths in your area). The footer around all the brace posts were dug with a 'flared' 18" front. This flair gives the brace the holding power needed beneath the ground. The flat front provides enough surface space and holds the brace against the pull of the fence! The large corner/end posts needed 4-7 -80 lb. bags and the brace posts 3-80 lb. bags each.
Once the braces were completed, we drove our line posts into the ground.
We chose 10' post spacing, not only for the good look that it gives, but it makes a stronger fence. When posts are closer together, there is more stability between the rails, making it harder to push them apart. (We are near a busy highway, and I wanted to be sure that we made everything secure). When you think about the number of posts needed for a 100' stretch of fence using 10' post spacing, you would need 10 posts. If you used 12' post spacing you would use 8 posts. To me, its not many more posts to go with the 10' post spacing - and that's totally worth peace of mind!
All posts were cut on a slight angle keeping any water from standing and wearing on top of the posts.
Posts were then measured and marked for the 5 rails of coated wire fence placement(2 are electric). We came down on the posts about 3" and off the ground approximately 12" (except in the mini and sheep area where the fence was about 8" off the ground). The remainder of the space on the post was evenly divided for the 5 rail system.
The fence was payed out using a bob cat and a spinning jenny.
The spinning jenny is just a must for any coated wire installations. It allows the rail to "unroll" without kinking or twisting the wire. The high tensile wire that is in our coated wire fence is 12 gauge, the strongest made. But if you kink any high tensile wire, it can become weak and break. It is just the characteristic of any high tensile wire. So by properly unwinding the roll, the fence will positively be strong and bounce back to its original shape when stretched!
The barbed fence staples were driven into the posts, leaving about a quarter of an inch of room for the rail to 'move' on impact.
Tensioners were tightened and the fence was taking shape. When we tension our fence we tighten the tensioners just until they feel that the fence stops tightening easily. You can over-tighten fencing and over time pull out posts, so its very important to not over tighten your rails. We also go down along the fence line and push against sections of fence to the rails (or strands) to move freely through the barbed staples (or brackets). When fence gets 'hung up" while tensioning, you just help it to move so that not all of the tension is close to the tensioners, but all the way down your fence line. This gives you even tension all the way around your pasture! If you find that your fence is a bit loose after doing this, go back to the tensioners and re-tighten (another way to gauge this is when you stop feeling the fence 'stretch', stop there). Soon all 5 rails (or strands) were up on the posts and I could see the pastures for my horses!
Next, the underground burial wire was attached to the 'electric' rails.
They are connected from the top down. By doing this, if tall grass or large amounts of snow hit lower rails, the fence only shorts out on the lower rail, not the top one! This is a good tip and works for any hot or cold climate area! Ground rods and charger were all that was left to do!
Everything was looking so good, but we had to get the gates installed.
I personally prefer heavier gauge gates due to having many gates (long, long ago), that bent after a few years. I tell many people that you truly get what you pay for with a good solid 2" tube gate. They wear well for years, and that you money in many ways. First, the chances of your horses getting injured from a good gate are slim to none. Secondly, you don't have to replace gates after a few years -this saves you a lot of money! Most of all, gate installation is very important so that your gate operates properly, in any weather, and so that your horses don't get hurt from too large of a gap between your gate post and the gate. We use Sure-latches that allow the gate to be closed very close to the post. They come as a one way or two way opening for your gate. I use the two way locking latch.
It allows me to open our gates in both directions easily. The latch is made with a guide that allows it to 'fall into place' and when I push it closed during turn out. This guide also helps to keep your gates from 'sagging'. The lockable latches has a cut-out for the use with a lock. This is very nice and can give you peace of mind, especially for night turnout as well as for gates that you don't want opened accidentally (example: a back utility gate).
In other areas we have Kiwi latches.
These latches are on a chain and you squeeze the latch to open it. They work well for me in 'catch areas'. I like to be very careful with the amount of room between a gate and a posts with a chain latch. If the chain is too long, or if the space between the gate and the post is too great, a horse can push its head through the opening - if they pull back, it can be fatal to the horse. I emphasize this because I have known the best of horseman that did not think about this detail, and have lost valuable horses from it.
Going back to the beginning of installing any fence; one of the most important parts of the installation is laying out your string line.
If you don't follow it, your gates could be to close or too far away from the gate post.
Today, I can look out my windows, everyday at RAMM, and see our horses out in their pastures! Even with semi-tractor trailer trucks, fork lifts and cars in and out of the main drive way, (AND a major highway near us), my horses are very comfortable in their front, side and back pastures! They settled in very well within just a few days. I'm so glad to have them 'home' and cannot wait to work on the new barn and tell you more about it! If you have any questions or comments on moving your horses to a new home, please feel free to email me.
Wishing you a safe and enjoyable summer - ride long and laugh often!
Debbie has over 45 years experience with horses and equine-related businesses. She has owned, trained, boarded horses and run stables at various times in her career. She is a certified fence installer, has given balanced riding lessons, and has shown horses in Western, Western Pleasure, Trail, English, Hunter/Jumper, Fox Hunting, Hunter Trials, Dressage and driving classes. Debbie has been involved in foaling, and just about every aspect of horse ownership possible, and she welcomes your questions and comments. If you are interested in using any articles by Debbie, please send her an email.