What's the best material for fencing my horse arena? Comparing different fencing solutions.
Horse arenas are typically used for either training a horse in commercial properties or learning to ride in domestic ones. The fencing options available for arenas are the same as fencing for horse property such as Timber Post and Rail, Mesh fencing, Horserail, PVC Post and Rail, Buckley Steel Fencing System and Cattle Rail.
However, the most important consideration in fencing a horse arena is safety. Other than just the aesthetics, the safety of both the rider and horse is of the utmost importance. The problem is with so many options of horse fencing available today it’s tough to find the one that matches your vision as well as ranks high on safety. If you choose the wrong fencing for your horse arena, you will not just risk an injury to the horse, but also to the rider who in most instances is your child learning to ride.
At Stock & Noble, we provide high-end property owners across Australia and New Zealand with the finest and safest fencing solutions. We regard safety as the topmost factor in all our offerings. Based on the experience gained from helping our clients build their dream arenas and insights into the horse fencing world, we will help you find the best material for fencing your arena.
In this article, we will discuss:
- The importance of fencing your horse arena.
- Top 5 Factors to consider while choosing a fence for your horse arena.
- How suitable different horse fencing options are for your arena?
Importance of fencing your horse arena
The typical sizes of horse arenas are 20 x 60 or 40 x 60. These are the most common sizes for Dressage and Show riding. Arenas should be constructed on a level, well-drained area and while fencing is not an absolute must, it is recommended that it is installed. At a minimum, a form of sand board is recommended to prevent the arena surface from disappearing.
What is important is the safety of the Rider and Horse as well as the riding experience. the top 4 factors to consider when fencing an arena are:
Freedom to practice
The arena is typically used to hone your riding skills, and a fence helps prevent horses from getting distracted. It creates a controlled environment for taking up new training and challenges.
Creates a visual barrier
Horses are large animals; fencing helps keep them contained safely and effectively creating an enclosed visual barrier.
Ensures safety of new learners
Children often learn to ride in an arena. With fencing around, the horse is contained in a controlled environment limiting the risk of injury.
Enhances the looks of the arena
Along with increasing the safety of both the rider and the horse, if you use premium quality 3 to 4 post and rail fencing around your arena, it dramatically elevates the overall aesthetics. Thus, building a much richer view and experience.
Top 5 factors to consider while choosing a fence for your horse arena
Factor #1: Type of property
Different types of equine properties have arenas for different purposes. In commercial properties like equestrian centres and equine schools, the arena is built as a showcase for their horses as well as for training needs. Thus, the fencing needs to be highly functional, safe as well as aesthetically pleasing.
If the arena is on domestic property, simple and safe fencing might also be enough.
If you’re building a forever property, and the arena is to be a central focus, the fencing should be bold, beautiful and safe.
Factor #2: Flexible for the rider’s back and the horse
While training or riding in an arena, a rider can fall from the horse onto the fencing. Thus, arena fencing should be strong enough to contain animals, yet flexible enough to give way or be gentle on the impact of the rider in case he lands on it. You don’t want a brittle or hard fence that could lead to serious injury to the rider and horse.
Factor #3: Style of your horse arena
This is a personal choice. Whether you want a high-end premium post and rail fencing for your arenas like Timber, Horserail or Buckley. Or do you want simpler fencing like mesh and PVC? What would also drive your choice of fencing and the number of rails is the visibility from outside when the arena is being used. If you want a clearer view but indulgent aesthetics, 2-3 rails with mesh are a good idea.
Factor #4: Ease of installation
While the fencing for the rest of your horse property is typically time-bound, the arena can be taken up as a passion project. There is usually no specific deadline to build an arena on a domestic property and if you’re interested in installing the fence yourself, we recommend digging deeper and learning which horse fencing would be best for you as a DIYer.
Factor #5: Maintenance of the fencing
No matter which horse fencing you choose for an arena, we assume you don’t intend to waste time on its upkeep, but rather spend it enjoying your horses. So, it’s advisable to choose horse fencing that’s easy to maintain. It might cost you more initially but saves you time, money and effort over the years. There’s nothing more valuable than your time and peace of mind.
How suitable are different horse fencing options for an arena?
The most common types of horse fencing used for arenas are Timber Post and Rail, Cattle Rail, Buckley Steel Post and Rail fencing system, PVC Post and Rail, Horserail or Plastic horse fencing and Mesh.
Let’s evaluate each one of these through our must-have filters of arena fencing, especially safety and see where they stand.
Timber Post and Rail
It’s the most widely seen and used option for both fencing on a horse property as well as arenas across Australia and New Zealand. Good quality timber like hardwood is easier to maintain, lasts long and looks stunning, but it’s expensive and tough to source.
Pine is the cheaper option which is readily available and looks good initially. It can be painted in any colour of your choice, but typically it doesn’t last for more than 5 years and is harder to maintain.
Overall considered strong enough to contain horses, Timber is hard on impact for both rider and horse. Thus, scores high on looks but low on safety.
Cattle Rail or Steel Pipe fencing is used on a lot of properties. It typically needs to be painted to elevate the looks of steel grey rails. It’s easy to maintain and lasts for decades. But the biggest con of Cattle Rail is that it’s very rigid and once welded it becomes highly inflexible. Thus, ranks low on rider and horse safety.
PVC Post and Rail
PVC is a popular choice for horse arena fencing. The biggest strength of PVC is that it’s long-lasting, easy to maintain as compared to timber as well as soft enough to land on. So, the rider as well as the horses are safe with PVC fencing. However, exposure to the sun over the years tends to turn PVC brittle and if a horse runs into it or a rider falls on an old brittle PVC Post or Rail, there’s a high chance of sharp shards causing a serious injury to them.
Horserail or Plastic Horse fences
Flexible plastic rails like Legacy or Horserail give a post and rail look to your arena. They are available in both black and white colours. The biggest reason these fences are high on horse safety is because of the flexibility. So, whether it’s the horse or the rider, Horserail can take the impact of horses without hurting them and is also a little more accommodating for the rider.
While the flexible plastic rails are safe, the problem lies with the posts. The end assemblies and posts are typically made of Steel or larger timber posts and therefore can be more dangerous for horse and rider if impacted, potentially causing injury.
Buckley Steel Post and Rail Fencing System
Buckley is an engineered fencing system with round smooth edges, and no fasteners or nails. The rails are designed to be strong and sturdy to contain spirited horses yet flexible enough for their safety. They buckle off on an impact, without any shatter or splinter thus resulting in comparatively higher safety for the horses as well as the rider. Buckley Post and Rail fencing system looks great, is low on maintenance, lasts more than 30 years, but is only available in black or white.
This is also a popular choice of fencing for a horse arena. It’s used with any other post and rail options like Timber, Horserail or Buckley. It gives a good view of the inside without blocking it with wide posts and rails. The safety and looks of mesh fencing depend largely on the option of post and rail it’s combined with.
Which fencing is the best for my horse arena?
You wanted to know if you need fencing and which material would be best suited for your arena. Now you know why fencing your arena is critical, what are the key factors you must consider and how to choose the best fencing option for your horse arena.
The last and deciding factor is cost and before you move ahead it will be worthwhile to know how much it costs to fence an arena. No matter what your budget is, we would advise compromising on the looks but not on the safety of your fences. So, whether you choose 4 rails of premium fencing or 2 simple rails with mesh, prioritise safety above all else. If you are building an arena as a centrepiece of your signature home or as a showcase for your commercial property then it’s a good idea to invest more and get the best and the safest fencing like Horserail, Timber or Buckley Steel Post and Rail Fencing System.
If you have more questions on cost, quality, safety or looks of different fencing options available today, book a personalised consultation with one of our fencing advisors. We would love to know more about you, your property and your arena, to help you create a beautiful and safe equine property.