Safety, low maintenance costs and aesthetics are just some of the reasons Black Arab breeder, Beth Horstmann decided to install miles of Centaur fencing on her 110 acre stud in Somerset.
When Beth and husband Colin moved to Hartsmead, Witham Friary, in August 2012 they were faced with the challenge of converting an existing dairy farm for horses. With no stables or fencing on site they started by converting the existing buildings and splitting up the farm into paddocks.
The stud now has a 12 mare stabling barn and inside turnout area, together with five isolation boxes. Five stallion boxes will also be going in shortly. 13 paddocks have also been created, all fenced using Tornado Wire’s Centaur polymer post and rail system.
Having bred black Arabs for nine years, Beth relocated from Exmoor to Hartsmead, with the view to expanding her ‘Arabians in Black’ business further.
“My overall aim is to produce a black horse with excellent conformation and good movement that is a homozygous carrier for a black coat,” she says.
Beth has several homozygous mares and has also bred the Bronze International Champion Colt, AB I’ma Dream, who is homozygous black and Gold British National Champion, AB Harrison Ford.
With such high value animals, Beth is keen to protect her horses from risk of injury. As a result, choosing a fencing system with safety in mind was high on her list of priorities. This led her towards Tornado’s Centaur fencing.
The standard Centaur fence is 4ft high and made up of three high tensile wires embedded in a 125mm wide cross-linked polymer coated rail, which creates both strength and flexibility. This also provides the opportunity to electrify the fence if desired – something which Beth was keen to do.
“I think electric is really important with horses so they respect the fence. It’s especially necessary with young colts with lots of testosterone and not much sense,” Beth says. “However you can get a ‘cheese wire’ effect with plain wire or barbed wire. Because the Centaur is plastic coated you don’t have this problem as it’s got some give to it.”
Beth chose to put up a three strand fence with electric running through the top and bottom rails. This would prevent foals from rolling under or horses from leaning over the top. Beth says the benefits of having a flexible material became very clear right from the start.
“In the first year some foals got excited, the mares followed and they landed on the fence. The fence gave and they bounced off – there wasn’t a single injury,” Beth explains. “If it had been a wooden post and rail the fence would have snapped, horses would have been in the neighbour’s field and there’d have been injuries.”
The fact each rail is installed in a continuous length across a stretch of posts, means any impact is absorbed by the entire fence. This also makes it a lot simpler to put up.
“A contractor put the first fences up and the when Colin and I saw how easy it was we did the rest ourselves. We wouldn’t have attempted to do if it was heavy wooden post and rail,” says Beth.
“With this system you fix the length of rail to the corner straining post bracket and then drive off in a vehicle with the rail behind you. You then attach it to the strainer at the other end, tighten it up and then tighten it into each post.”
As it’s quicker to do it is also potentially cheaper when employing contractors. You also require half as many posts than you do with conventional post and rail.
“I did a direct comparison with post and rail and it worked out 5% cheaper even if I had used a contractor,” comments Beth.
The polymer rails will also last longer than wood and only needs checking and tightening once a year. Beth also believes the system is aesthetically pleasing and helps give the stud a professional feel.
“It’s also environmental friendly as it doesn’t need treating with poisonous chemicals,” she says.
“And the fact you use screws rather than nails to attach the rail to the posts is also good from a safety point of view. If a nail falls out and gets in a foot it can cause a big injury.”