horse fence question rope vs tape?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by nightshade, Dec 28, 2007.

  1. okay what is the difference between poly rope and poly tape eletrice horse fence? pros, cons your experence any info would be great.
  2. Varisha

    Varisha Songster

    Mar 22, 2007
    all I know is that the tape is easier for horses to see.
  3. snugglepup

    snugglepup Songster

    Apr 15, 2007
    Creedmoor, NC
    i haveheard of some unpleasant injuries resulting from the rope. I prefer the tapes for visibility.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    There are really at least 3 kinds of fencing to compare: 1/2" tape, 1 1/2" tape, and rope. (Actually there are a variety of rope and ropelike products out there, but mostly they just differ in longevity).

    VISIBILITY: Rope is the least visible, 1/2" tape a bit more visible, 1 1/2" tape much more visible. Visibility is quite important because a major reason for fence injuries is a horse simply running into, or thru, a fence he didn't notice til it was too late. Even if he's been in the same paddock with the same fence for years, this can happen if he has a silly spell or gets chased by a dog or pasturemate, etc. Using a less visible product can be largely made up for by using more strands of it and using more, and more-visible, fenceposts. Do not count on 'flagging', it won't stay put long.

    POST REQUIREMENTS: Rope takes the fewest fenceposts (they can be up to 20+ feet apart, although you may have visibility issues if you do this), 1/2" tape takes more fenceposts (they can be up to 15' apart), and 1 1/2" tape definitely requires fenceposts no more than 12 feet apart (less in a really windy spot). For all of these fences, you will definitely need stout wood posts at corners, gates, and changes of the direction of the terrain. In between, wood posts are much safer longer-lasting and more visible, but some people feel it's safe enough to use T-posts with safety caps wired on (never use bare-topped t-posts around horses, it is an invitation to gruesome injuries).

    INSULATOR REQUIREMENTS: Rope and 1/2" tape can be put in most any kind of insulator; 1 1/2" tape requires special insulators and in my experience they are significanlty more breakage prone.

    HORSE SAFETY: There is the visibility issue, above: the more noticeable a fence, the safer, hands-down. But there is also the question of what happens if a horse does try to go thru, or gets tangled in, the fence. In this case, more breakable materials are safer (horse may be able to struggle free rather than getting more and more sliced up) -- 1/2" tape is typically a couple hundred pounds break strength, 1 1/2" tape is typically around 800 lbs break strength, and rope products are typically around 1000-2000 lbs break strength making them essentially unbreakable if a horse gets tangled. Also, thicker-flatter materials are safer (thin strand cuts flesh more easily than thick 'blunt' strand). All of the tape and rope products are safer in this regard than any type of wire; beyond that it is difficult to generalize since some tapes stay nice and flat when stressed but others 'cord up' tightly.

    DURABILITY, LIFESPAN: Rope (I include electric braid products here) can be made of a wide variety of materials; some will last 5 years, others upwards of 25 years. The best you can hope for from 1 1/2 or 1/2" tape is maybe 5 years if you are in a no-wind environment and the fence is well maintained. The 1 1/2" tape MUST BE TWISTED BETWEEN FENCEPOSTS, which makes it look slightly goofy but sheds the wind and reduces flutter. If you do not do this, you are likely to have to replace it every year or two as wind-flutter will chafe the embedded wires against the insulators and break them (once too many of the embedded wires are broken, the tape won't carry a charge).

    COST: Upfront, long-lifespan ropes cost the most; 1/2" tape costs the least. But you have to also figure in differences in fencepost requirements and longevity. Also, there are considerable differences in the conductivity of different brands of electric fence materials, so if your fence is long or has many strands or your charger is kinda marginal or it's really important you have a strong zap to your fence, you NEED to shop around for a very high conductivity rope or tape, otherwise your fence may not carry sufficient charge to be convincing.

    Also, in general, bear in mind that solely-electric fencing is a poor choice for a boundary fence; a boundary fence (the outermost fencing of your pasture or property or what have you, as opposed to crossfencing that divides it into paddocks) really ought to be STRUCTURAL, like well maintained 4-board or post and rail or one of the horse-safe versions of wire mesh. If you are bound and determined to use solely-electric fencing as your boundary fencing, at least make it really d*mn visible, really d*mn well constantly charged, and either so weak that a horse will probably not be injured going thru it (if the world outside is relatively safe) or strong enough he'll have trouble getting thru, although he may get hurt getting stuck in it (if you live along a major road, next door to gun toting neighbors, etc).

    I know this really doesn't tell you what fence to build, but you have to weigh all those factors to decide what's best for you. I don't think there is a one size fits all answer!

    Good luck,

  5. Harmon_7

    Harmon_7 In the Brooder

    Nov 20, 2007
    New York
    Tape is a little more $ wize but I would go with it. It is alot better than rope...
  6. mamaboyd

    mamaboyd Songster

    Jun 6, 2007
    We've never tried the tape style fencing, it was too expensive for us, but we do use 2 strands of yellow rope stlye electric fencing and we've never had a problem with the visibility. Our 25 yr old mare is blind in one eye, and she's never had problems seeing it. Eventually, when we have the money we would like to put up the nice wood fencing, but that's a while off in the future. we had this fencing up for almost 2 yrs now, and haven't had a problem with it. You could also use the little orange flags that you put on the plain gray cattle fencing to help with visibility. It all depends on how close your pasture is too main roads etc and how curious/clever your horses are about escaping. If we lived on a busier road, we would have put up something more solider, but so far we haven't had the need to. Don't know if this helps at all.[​IMG]
  7. verthandi

    verthandi Songster

    May 18, 2007
    I use white rope here and love it. Mine is the thick rope that is 5/8" round. I have used wire, then tape over the past 40 years of owning horses. Now I run a strand of wire top and bottom and the rope in the middle of the wire strands for visiblilty. I will change the wire out to rope over the next couple of years.

    I have tried three different brands of tape in the past, the sun rotted the tape, wind stretched it out, snow and ice made it sag. I have also had one horse get a very nasty leg injury from the tape, it wrapped around his hindleg and sawed the hair and skin off his lower leg. I realize any fencing can cause injury, but this was bad. If you run your hand down the edges of the tape you will feel the sharpness of it.
  8. Dodgegal79

    Dodgegal79 Songster

    Dec 1, 2007
    Princeton BC Canada
    Horses have very good eyesight, better then you would think. i only every used 1 yellow line with my horses. They only needed to be shocked once and they would never go near then fence again. i don';t think you have to go too fancy on the fence, as long as its not along a roadway where there is a greater risk of accidental escape that would not be good.
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I know many will disagree but I just want to say 2 things:

    1) yes, horses have very good eyesight in some ways (like, can notice a fox trotting across next field half a mile off at dusk). However they have rather *poor* eyesight in certain other ways, mainly a) objects very close to their head, b) 'fine detail' non-moving objects, and most especially c) anything not hugely conspicuous while they are running along being silly or being afraid. Sadly, (a) and (c) are the cause of a lot of crippling or fatal fence injuries.

    2) it is certainly true that a sedate horse will often stay within pretty much any kind of fence and not get hurt. I mean, for a horse that doesn't want to go elsewhere, *string* (literally, and I don't mean electrified) will work 98% of the time; and look at how many horses live in barb wire paddocks full of rusty buicks and tine-harrows and haven't got hurt. Yet. But "yet" is exactly the problem. A horse's chances of getting out and/or getting hurt ARE demonstrably much higher in some kinds of fences than in others. You will not notice this if you own few horses or have only had horses for 10 years, but if you work with (or know) LOTS of horses and long periods of time it becomes strikingly obvious.

    There is also the consideration of what's at risk. If nothing too awful is likely to result from an escape, fine, use something less-visible if you must, and/or flimsy - in fact flimsy is probably smart in that situation as it makes 'paper cuts' more likely than slicing thru tendons. But if you live on a well travelled road or near some other significant hazard, it may be more important to keep the horse in no matter what, and for that, one or two strands of *anything* is just a really poor bet.

    The thing is, an awful lot of really grievously horrible fence injuries, and escapes as well, happen to horses who have lived in that fence for a long time. Maybe some loose dogs chase the horse one day, maybe a hot air balloon lands nearby, maybe a fire engine shows up, maybe the horse just has an unusually wild 'fun run' one fine day - and bang, you've got a big problem. 'Nothing bad has happened yet' does not necessarily mean 'smart choice, low risk'.

    It usually does not cost much more to construct a safer fence *for your particular situation* (there is no universal 'best way') than to construct a more-dangerous one. Indeed, the safer option is often no more expensive, sometimes even cheaper. I think the goal should be to never really know whether it was worth it - that is, to never have the kinds of vet bills or euthanasia that make you go 'oh jeez, if only I'd'.

    It's good to learn from others' experience rather than insisting on making all one's own mistakes [​IMG] -- but with horses, it's other peoples' *negative* experiences that probably have the biggest lessons for us.

    Sittin' down and shuttin' up now,

  10. Mac

    Mac Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    South Central PA
    A BIG thank you Pat for great information well explained. I totally agree with you. We have split rail fencing now, but when we get ready to bring in the horses we will be adding the wider tape on the top and middle rails. Fairly near a road, and areas that are in heavy shade all the time near the fence line. Need to make that MUCH more visable for them.

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