Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Barbed wire

Quick quip on barbed wire fencing after once again hearing Cathy spout off against it in yet another blog last week (…sorry, I still don’t think you need to own one). First off, it is a pet peeve of mine when someone yet again incorrectly reports that Pit Bulls were the aggressors in some attack, chase, etc.

1. There is no such thing as a “Pit Bull”. There are three breeds that are commonly referred to as “Pit Bulls”: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. I am not really going to get into it here except to say that “Pit Bull breeds” are breeds that require strong leadership or structure and guidance, same as some horse breeds require stronger leadership than others.

2. Dog breeds commonly referred to as “Pit Bulls” are commonly demonized for the wrong reasons – for the breed, when the owner is often to blame either for mishandling the dog directly (ie. training dogs to fight) or indirectly (ie. not establishing adequate leadership). Cathy allowed herself to be yet one more individual to mis-report and demonize.

3. How often has an individual mis-guessed your horse’s breed? The same happens all the time with dogs. I’ve been asked on occasion if our Doberman cross dog is a Greyhound. A Greyhound! When we actually had a Greyhound, no one had any idea what it was (and btw, the Doberman cross throws strongly to the Doberman side – you can barely detect the other breed). If you do your research, you find that most often what was once first reported to be a “Pit Bull” was actually something like a (as in this case) wire-haired mixed breed (how different could you get?). Or a Lab. If you’re going to report a dog attack, wait until the full details surface before reporting dog breed, unless you are knowledgeable on dog breeds and have seen the dogs yourself.

Sorry, just had to rant on one of my biggest pet peeves. But back to horses. Here, Cathy spouts off again about barbed wire:

“AGAIN…barbed wire is NOT under ANY circumstances, horse fence.”

Okay, so you’re going to front the dollars and time, Cathy, to re-build everyone’s fences? The reality of the situation is that many people do have barbed wire and, for many people, that barbed wire is their only option. I cannot speak for other areas of the country/continent, but up around here (BC and Alberta), nearly everything is barbed wire. To re-fence a quarter section (160 acres), including paddocks and smaller pastures, with something other than barbed wire is not only expensive but also very time-consuming. Personally, when we do eventually purchase a property, all our smaller paddocks and pastures will be fenced with something other than barbed wire. However re-fencing an entire quarter section (or more) just might not be possible – definitely not right away, prior to putting horses in it! When my family ranched, our horse paddocks were board, but our pastures on the rest of the 160 acres were all barbed wire…with never a barbed-wire-related injury to any of our horses. So, can barbed wire ever be safe? In my opinion, yes. Optimal? No. Worthy of condemning people because they used barbed wire? No.

What can you do to make barbed wire as safe as possible?
1. Keep it tight, with no sag
2. Check it regularly! Downed trees can destroy your fence, other animals might break through it, it might become rusted and break, etc.
3. Use 3 (minimum) to 5 strands
4. Walk the perimeter with your horses when they are first set loose in the pasture and/or turn them loose in the pasture during the day so that they can see the fence
5. In areas of low visibility (for whatever reason), tag the top strand with coloured tape that your horses will see so that they can see the top strand of fence
6. Don’t leave loose ends lying about

While barbed wire is not the favourite horse fence, horses can successfully be kept within its confines, especially in larger areas and in smaller numbers. If you can afford (both time-wise and financially) to replace all your fences…be my guest. Just understand that barbed wire is not some evil contraption designed to kill all horses and that it can be safe for horses with proper management (both with the horses and with the fences).


Mendacious Being said...


I just moved to Costa Rica and my home is surrounded by barbed wire. We have two cats, and one got caught on a barb and now has a small chunk missing from his back.

We are trying to clip all of the lower barbs, but this is difficult and time-consuming. Unfortunately we are not allowed to completely dismantle the fence, and are only allowed to tamper with the lowest strand of barbs.

Any ideas on how to make these barbs safer for my cats?

Thank you!

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