Build the Right Fencing for Horses

Storey's Country Wisdom Bulletin A-193


By Jackie Clay

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ebook (Digital original)


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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 12, 1999. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Since 1973, Storey’s Country Wisdom Bulletins have offered practical, hands-on instructions designed to help readers master dozens of country living skills quickly and easily. There are now more than 170 titles in this series, and their remarkable popularity reflects the common desire of country and city dwellers alike to cultivate personal independence in everyday life.


Fencing Tools

Tools for horse fencing are relatively inexpensive and basic. Most can be used for several types of fencing and/or other jobs around your farm, yard, or garden, so their cost is minimal for their value. If you are fencing a large acreage, you may choose to hire out to get some of the work done, especially the posthole digging or post pounding. These jobs are quickly done using a tractor with either a posthole auger, which mounts on the rear of a tractor with a three-point hitch, or a post driver, usually mounted on the front of a tractor. A person using a tractor can easily dig more than 100 postholes in part of a day and pound as many fence posts. In contrast, it took me a whole summer to fence a 20-acre (8.1 ha) pasture by hand!

Posthole Digger

If you’re opting for the do-it-yourself method of digging postholes for wooden or steel-pipe fence posts, you still have choices. While you can rent or possibly borrow a gasoline-powdered posthole auger, I have had the most luck using an old “armstrong” clamshell digger. The gasoline models work well in moist black earth or fairly moist sand, but they are useless in heavy clays, rocky ground, or hard-packed clay-sand soils. The clamshell digger, on the other hand, will get it all done — with some talent and work. This tool has two cupped steel blades, hinged together, with a handle rising from each. With the handles together, you jab the digger into the earth, usually more than once, to loosen the soil. Then you pull apart the handles while lifting the bite of soil with it. You can also find hand augers, but like the gas type, they’re useless on all but excellent soils.

As with any other tool, there are a few tricks of the trade in using a posthole digger. Where the soil is dry or compacted, digging is much easier if you dig a shallow, cupped hole through the sod and fill it with water. Then move on to the next few post positions and repeat, allowing time for the water to soak into the soil. You won’t believe the difference a little moisture makes, in both the earth and your temper! In very dry conditions, you may have to soak the holes two or three times, but the effort is definitely worth it.

Working with Clay Soil

Digging in clay soil is always a challenge. If the soil is too dry, it must be moistened. (Digging following a mild rain is helpful.) But if the ground is too wet, the clay will stick to the digger. If this is the case, one good remedy is to carry along a small log to rap the clay-clogged digger against. Some folks even resort to dipping the digger in used oil between holes.

If you must dig holes in very gravelly or rocky ground, using the chisel end of a tamping bar (see page 27) is a great help. Jab it into the hole, prying at different angles to loosen rocks and even to break larger ones. After the rocks and surrounding soil have been loosened, they’re usually quite easy to remove with the posthole digger.

If you’re having trouble getting the heavy driver over the fence post, try tipping the post first, easing on the driver, and then pulling the entire setup upright. This can really make a difference, especially when you’ve been working for several hours on a fence line.

Wear leather gloves and allow your hands to slide on the driver’s handles while pounding, instead of forcing it down onto the post. This will help prevent blisters and hand soreness.

If you are driving posts into very dry soil, soak the area where you will be digging the day before driving to soften the ground. This will make pounding posts a less challenging chore by far!

If you are using any type of wire in your fencing, whether it is stock fencing (woven wire), wire, or even chain link, a wire stretcher is essential. Without this tool, getting the wire tight enough, safely, is nearly impossible. The most common stretcher is a rope-pull model. The versatile come-along, composed of a bar with a ratchet-type handle at one end and a hook with a grasping latch at the other, is another good choice. Whichever kind of stretcher you choose, they all work in basically the same way: One end is attached to something stationary, such as a tractor or a dummy post, and the other end clasps the wire tightly. Work the stretcher to tighten the wire, bit by bit, until it is tight. The stretcher will then hold the wire in that position so you can work safely, with your hands free, to secure the wire to the post.

When using a wire stretcher, be sure it is securely clamped tight on the wire before attempting to stretch it. Otherwise, it can let the wire slip, possibly causing injury to those working on the fence. Never use a vehicle to stretch wire, unless it is as an anchor for the wire stretcher. A vehicle cannot be kept under inch-by-inch control, and the wire can overstretch, snap, and severely injure those on the fence line.


On Sale
Jan 12, 1999
Page Count
32 pages