It was the mid-1990’s. We had just finished building a wonderful house on acreage outside of Portland, Oregon, along with – a first for me! – a new barn. The new barn was beautiful, tidy, efficient, and had everything I’d need to run things myself. I was fairly new to horses, and this was my first foray living on the same property as the horses. I had boarded for a few years and had carefully observed the details of other barns and pastures. I had decided on Centaur fencing for the fields: in western Oregon, where it rains a lot, wood doesn’t last long. And with horses, wire is out – I had witnessed problems in places I’d boarded. With electric tape, I had shocked myself just too many times. I heard about and looked into the flexible Centaur fencing, which fit criteria of looks, safety, and durability, and bought what I needed for the 5 acres or so of pasture/turnout on the hill, which could be divided into 3 pastures, if necessary, by closing gates. After it was installed, using white painted 6” posts, the place looked like a real horse facility! The barn had five stalls but my two horses were the only ones currently in residence. My middle-school aged daughters, who were taking lessons on lesson horses at a nearby hunter-jumping barn, occasionally enjoyed coming out to tend and ride my horses. Who do you think painted all the posts? Those daughters, and their friends too, needed something to do that summer!
My youngest daughter, Danielle, came out with me to the barn one early fall afternoon. She fetched the chunky little Arab Chevy from the pasture, and while I was inside the barn, tied the lead rope around a very heavy 5-foot log bench (we’re talking around 250 pounds). When I came out of the barn and rounded the corner in her direction, I had the quick thought – uh-oh, not a good idea to tie him there! Before I could speak, Chevy pulled back, the bench gave just a bit, and he panicked and took off. Happily, Danielle had stepped aside to reach for a brush and was safely out of the way.
Aghast, we watched the horse dash (as fast as he could, what with the log bench attached to him) around the pipe-railed round pen, fall and roll over — with the bench rolling over him – and dash off again on the other side of the round pen, tripping and falling again on the way, to head down a bit of a grassy slope toward the pasture, beautifully fenced as it was with the new Centaur fencing. Lo and behold, Chevy catapulted himself THROUGH the top and middle sections of the fence, fell down again and rolled over on the other side of the fence! At that point, the bench caught at a vertical angle on the outside of the fence, and quite abruptly the whole disastrous event came to a complete halt. All I could think of was, ohmagosh, this horse is gonna die, or at least end up in a number of pieces!
When the proverbial dust had settled, we ran over and released Chevy from his burden. Miraculously, Chevy was in one piece – nothing even broken. He got up, shook himself, and walked off. There was no sign of injury, nothing was out of whack, then or in the coming days. If he was a bit sore — and I figured he had to be! — you couldn’t tell.
Well, the running around with a 250-pound bench flying, falling and rolling over and around him was bad enough, but I figured the fencing that was able to stretch around his body and eventually stopped the bench is what saved his life! Imagine if he and the bench had hit rigid fencing – it would have been all over. On top of it, the fence itself wasn’t the least bit damaged. I was so grateful for that fencing.
In the 16 years since then, dozens of horses have resided at my place for short or long terms, and been turned out daily in the fields – yes, rain, shine, sleet or snow. Through the years, one way or another and for who-knows-what reason, they’ve tried unsuccessfully to get through the fencing; run into it here or there in a panic; pushed and shoved each other around and into it; — and it has lasted lo these many years without injuring a horse or breaking.
Occasionally, I’ve had to tighten it, re-wrap around some posts, or replace a short stretch nearest the barn where horses (especially new ones used to being in a stall) have persisted in their efforts to be on the other side.
Many a clever horse has figured out how to reach their necks through to munch, without mishap, the grass just outside the fence line, which they can do at will, bless their hearts, since they mow it nicely.
For all of this I thank you, Centaur! I’m looking for a smaller place now and will use Centaur flexible fencing once again. Wouldn’t have horses without it.
By Nancy D. Johnson