Horse Fencing Question..Leaning pasture fence on account of rain

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Chick_a_dee, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    Last year was a great year for pounding your fence posts into the ground in our area, so we had that done instead of augering... This year we've had a significant amount of rain early on and the ground is completely drenched and part of our BRAND NEW fenceline has begun to lean! ... And by lean I mean I can actually push it back upright. I was wondering if any of you guys have experienced this and what you did to remedy it... We have 3 inch cedar round rails on our fencing and most places are okay if not a bit wobbly but there is one spot in particular that is actually leaning and i'm afraid it's going to bring down the rest of the line of fencing. I read somewhere that you can back fill with gravel but I was wondering if any of you had any experiences with this and what you did that worked.

    Also, since this has happened we've been re-thinking our fencing options for the upper fields in that same spot where it gets wet in the spring... Instead of 5 inch posts with electric on that fenceline we may have to resort to tposts with electric. Any other ideas?
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    If they're leaning, either they weren't set deep enough (should be minimum 3.5'), or the soil is inherently too mucky to hold posts well, or the fence has too much wind load for the soil's ability to hold the posts.

    You can straighten and/or prop up the fenceposts, but if they've done this in one year the problem will swiftly get worse so I'd suggest you think in terms of longer lasting fixes. (Setting them in a gravelled hole, or straightening then backfilling the gap with gravel (or, better, a sleeper or very large flat rock) will not honestly do much good in the long run)

    First, if the posts are not set 3.5' deep, then there's yer problem. Although it really sucks to have to dismantle a fenceline and rebuild it, if it ain't working after 1 year there is just no way you'll get it to be stable in the long run.

    If you do not wish to dismantle the fenceline to deepen posts, or if the posts are already 3.5' or more deep and it's doing this anyway, then you need to switch to a lower wind-load fence. I guess I'd suggest electric rope (4-5 strands of good quality material) as the best alternative, although it is not without drawbacks. You could try leaving the top rail on as a sight line, but then of course you are adding back a bit of wind load.

    If you use electric to fence the other field I would still really recommend wooden posts (they can be thinner thus cheaper, since they don't have to support any much weight) -- t-posts are just vet bills waiting to happen. Wiring on high-quality caps *helps* but I've known enough horses rip themselves open despite wired-on caps that I would suggest it's really best to avoid them if at all possible. I do have some capped t-posts in use myself, but it's a good sized field and a TALL fence, which reduces the risk somewhat, and even so if I could afford 3" cedar posts you can bet I'd be swapping them in instead.

    There is one real disadvantage to using electric (only) for a fence, though -- it will not always work. Not only do chargers periodically go kerflooey or fences ground out, happens to anyone sometimes, but more to the point, up here when it is January with a coupla feet of snow on the deeply frozen ground and barefoot/hairy/blanketed (some or all of the above) horses, you cannot count on getting a really convincing zap out of the fence. Thus if horses decide to walk or run through the fence, ain't nothing really to convince them otherwise. So it is more of a gamble than (properly built and maintained) wooden fences, in terms of escapes and in terms of possible vet bills from tangling with the fence. Just something to factor into your decision.

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  3. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    I think it's a problem now of the depth because we can only go as deep as about 2.5-3' and that should be well enough around here but that field has really no shelter from the wind and those posts are in a wet area. It looks RIGHT NOW like we're going to have to pull all 3 lines of rails off that fence and string it with electric instead.

    As for the other fence the biggest problem with using the wood posts is that it WOULD be a huge waste of money and time because we DONT have the depth of soil to hold the wood posts and even so its wet there in the spot where the tposts would have to be. We have a rock shelf running under part of the property, and clearly where the leaning line of posts is.

    As for using electric only, its really our only choice right now.. As far as safety... there's an OEF safety approoved facility down the road with electric only mostly on wood posts but some on tposts that isn't tensioned correctly. Ours is tensioned properly... ahhh this fence problem is going to drive me nuts.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2009
  4. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    Well I consulted my trusty Cherry Hill book on fencing and she says that your posts should be set from 2' to 4' ... so mine are pretty okay. I think its a combination of the wind load (3 rail of 3 inch round rails. = pretty hefty) and the muckiness. SO as soon as it dries out a bit (probably sunday) we'll be propping the fenceline up and cementing in the posts that are bad, once thats dry we'll pull the rails off and prep it for electric.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Chick-a-dee, it does not matter what some book says about life in general... if your posts are leaning, they are not deep enough unless they are in muck soil, and less than 3' isn't deep enough in most soils. It's not just a frostline issue.

    Of course, if you genuinely hit bedrock at 2.5-3' then obviously there is nothing you can *do* about it [​IMG], other than choose a fence style with less wind load (unless it is just a couple posts where you hit rock -- if all the others can go in deeper, it can sometimes be worth banging out a hole in the rock for the couple problem ones).

    For your other fence, even if you use t-posts, it'd still be an awful good idea to use well-braced wooden posts for the corners, even if you can only get them 2.5-3' deep. (You can't brace a t-post as securely, b/c the buried end moves through the soil... ). I don't know what you mean about tensioning, though -- any fence that uses t-post isn't actually tensioned, just the slack taken out of it.

    For the leany wood posts you have to brace: straighten them up (by hand, by tractor, by come-along-and-anchor, whatever) then jam in a 2-3' treated sleeper or a large (like at least 16" long) flattish rock upright against the leany side, sunk flush with the ground or just below it. Don't dig out a cavity and put the sleeper/rock in and backfill-- you want it going into as undisturbed soil as possible. This will help the post resist keeling over in the future. Which you'll want, because once you've straightened a post it will never be as securely set again, and always be more inclined to go over again.

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  6. Florida chick

    Florida chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2008
    We break concrete and Tamp the rock into the hole around the posts/ We flood often and are in FL where it is sandy. If you tamp and put enough broken rock and concrete chunks, it will hold well even while submerged. [​IMG]
     
  7. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    Quote:That sounds workable, it's not a massive hole around it as they were pounded in.
     

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