Chat Transcript – Debbie Disbrow

Read the transcript of Equisearch's chat with fencing expert Debbie Disbrow of RAMMfence, Inc.

EquisearchStaff – Welcome to our Equisearch chat. Tonight we will be consulting with fencing expert Debbie Disbrow. Debbie is the founder and President of RAMMfence, Inc., one of the leading fencing and stall suppliers in the equine industry. RAMMfence is located in Swanton, Ohio.


EquisearchStaff – Debbie has over 40 years experience with horses and in equine-related businesses. She has owned, trained, and boarded horses and run stables at various times in her career. She has given balance riding lessons and has shown horses in Western, Western Pleasure, Trail, English, Hunter/Jumper, Fox Hunting, Hunter Trials and Dressage classes. Debbie has been involved in driving, foaling, and just about every aspect of horse ownership possible.

Ruffian – I’ll try to put you on the spot right off. What is your very favorite kind of fencing for horses — and why?

EquisearchStaff – That is a good one Ruffian – cutting to the chase!

DebbieDisbrow – Ruffian, my most favorite fence system is our Flex Fence system. It is made for horses. There’s great strength. It flexes 6-8 inches on impact, then comes back to its original shape.

DebbieDisbrow – It’s made for horses. If a horse hits it, the impact radiates and the fence flexes down the entire length.

EquisearchStaff – Welcome. We are discussing Debbie’s favorite type of horse fencing.

Ruffian – Wooden or metal posts?

DebbieDisbrow – In the Flex Fence, it’s a high tensile fencing with a polyethylene coating–which is a plastic coating.

EquisearchStaff – Good evening RedRedWine

DebbieDisbrow – It can have a break strength as high as 4500 pounds of break strength per rail.

RedRedWine – Hi. Can I just type in a question for Debbie?

DebbieDisbrow – Most of the time, we tell our customers they can use wood posts. Sometimes, more Western states use more pipe.

EquisearchStaff – Absolutely, please ask any questions!

DebbieDisbrow – A lot of times, the customer makes the decision based on affordability and what they want to accomplish with the post.

grock – I’m new to horses, my neighbors use barbed wire for their fence. I’m concerned about the horse getting cut.

RedRedWine – Debbie, we are going to re-fence a paddock for a mare and foal. Needs to be safe for the foal AND keep the dogs OUT. Any thoughts?

Ruffian – How hard is it to install? Wire stretchers?

EquisearchStaff – Welcome papabear and jr. Please feel free to pose a question to Debbie.

DebbieDisbrow – Ruffian, what do you mean by wire stretchers? You don’t need to use wire stretchers with Next Generation Flex Fence.

Kimmie – How many rows of fence are recommended?

DebbieDisbrow – Grock, barbed wire is better used with livestock–cattle and sheep–not horses. Look at a horse-type fencing instead of the barbed wire.

EquisearchStaff – Grock, do you share a fenceline with your neighbor?

DebbieDisbrow – Grock, you might try adding another line of fencing to block the barbed wire–or use electric fencing to keep your horses away from it.

DebbieDisbrow – Red, if you want to keep small animals out, go to a diamond, v-mesh fence or a woven-wire, non climb fence system.

Barw – Our pasture out here can be particularly marshy. Does that have any effect on the fence I use?

DebbieDisbrow – That way, with the woven wire fences, your animals will be safe, and predator animals will stay out.

RedRedWine – Deb, that’s what I was thinking.

jr – How far apart should I put my post?

DebbieDisbrow – Ruffian, with the Flex Fence system, there is labor involved, but compared to other fence systems, it’s not a difficult fence to put in. Most importantly, with any Flex Fence, corners and gate areas, or any post out of the straight line NEED to be concreted or braced.

grock – My property is next to a golf course and I’m worried about the horses getting out and the other side is shared with my neighbor. Debbie do you have any suggestions. I don’t want my horses getting out!

EquisearchStaff – Back to Kimmie’s question – about how many rows of fence are recommended?

jr – how far apart should I put my post

DebbieDisbrow – Kimmie, that’s a good question. It depends on the horse that you’re fencing in. What I mean by that is the area size–small or large? Is the area dry or grassy? How many horses are in that pasture?

Ruffian – sounds good. I figured any high-tensile wire required stretching, but I understand the need for reinforced corners and gates.

DebbieDisbrow – Kimmie, we’ll know if a three or four rail fence will work best for you. The taller the fence (post), the bigger the spaces are in between. Rail spacing should be 6-11”.

papabear – What would you recommend for stallion turn outs that are side by side?

EquisearchStaff – And Barw’s inquiry — what effect does a marshy landscape have on the type of fence?

Lena – Sorry I’m late. Hope I didn’t miss any questions on gates.

EquisearchStaff – No, don’t worry Lena. We haven’t gotten to gates yet.

buckeye – hey have I missed anything. had a small problem logging on

DebbieDisbrow – Barw, with the marshy ground, you’d need to do a H-brace until you are on more dry land. Extra bracing is the key.

Kimmie – Thanks Debbie, I don’t actually have horses yet, just doing research

EquisearchStaff – Papabear asked about fencing for stallion turnouts that are side by side. What would you recommend, Debbie?

buckeye – a question to someone. How do I know if I go with 3 or 4 rails? I have a qtr horse and a percheron (who thinks he is a dog)

Lena – I need to understand the ABC’s of gates. My cousin insists the gates have to be really heavy reinforced pressure treated wood to keep in our TBs. The gates weigh a ton and are very heavy to support with hardware. Debbie, what do you recommend for gates — for bringing horses in and out? Type of material as well as width. Thanks,

EquisearchStaff – Glad that you made it buckeye.

buckeye – good to be here. Had some problems getting on?

Lena – Besides gates, I really want to know about treating the wood, both for longevity and stopping chewing. Painting seems nuts (a whole lot of work repeated periodically). Creosote is, I believe, outlawed. Any recommendation would be much appreciated.

EquisearchStaff – Whew, Lena! Those are some big questions. Give Debbie a few moments to get to some other questions before she tackles them!

DebbieDisbrow – JR, your posts should be about 8′ away for most high-traffic areas. Go for 10′ spacing for medium pasture areas (some people like the looks of that better).

Lena – I’ve got problems.

DebbieDisbrow – So, the widest placement you’d want for posts would be 15′. The farther apart the posts are, the easier it would be for a horse to push the fence over.

EquisearchStaff – Don’t worry Lena, Debbie can offer some relief.

EquisearchStaff – Welcome, Caroline. Debbie is about to explain the best fencing for stallions turned out side by side.

Caroline – Great–it’s good to be here.

DebbieDisbrow – Papabear, for putting stallions in runs side-by-side, first check local ordinances. Some counties have specs on how high fences should be.

DebbieDisbrow – If the stallion paddocks are large enough, you might consider electric. Definitely, use 8′ fence posting.

DebbieDisbrow – Lena, what you should think about with gates is how many you’ll have in the pasture. If you’ll have only one, make sure it’s large enough to get your manure spreader or tractor through. If you do need to get large equipment through, use a utility gate–16′.

DebbieDisbrow – I personally use the 16′ gate and don’t have a problem with it being too big. If you want something smaller, just make sure you can get what you need to through the opening.

DebbieDisbrow – If you could put a utility gate in another area, go for an 8-10′ gate.

DebbieDisbrow – You might have other specific problems, you’re welcome to e-mail me after the chat.

DebbieDisbrow – Buckeye, for your Quarter Horse and Percheron–Because of the Percheron, you might want to go with a 4 post/ rail system for extra height.

DebbieDisbrow – While some draft horses are puppy dogs, you might want to consider their strength.

papabear – Is electric the only fence you would use to separate stallions?

Lena – What material would you recommend for a gate. I see a lot of the metal tubing around.

EquisearchStaff – Lena – that is a good question about longevity of the wood. What do you think Debbie

DebbieDisbrow – Lena, that’s two questions in one–great! I’ll talk about preserving wood first. Look for a wood that is CCA treated. Also, with your posts, you can get posts with a retention level (.40 would mean 40 years). Some retention levels are higher, some are lower.

DebbieDisbrow – Lena, additionally, use a stain or farm and barn paint.

EquisearchStaff – And what about the chewing?

DebbieDisbrow – For horses chewing. . . .I’ve done a lot of research on this. I’ve talked to several vets to get their opinion, too. Most of the time, horses chew because of boredom. There’s a small percentage of horses that chew because of a mineral deficiency.

Lena – I can live with 40 years. I’ve got some years on me already. The next generation can take it from there.

DebbieDisbrow – If horses are chewing, try grassy hay, because they’re grazing animals–they’ll keep busy.

buckeye – is post and rail safe? I thought wood and wire is out of date

DebbieDisbrow – The chewing habit is very hard to break. Find something to keep your horse busy–maybe even arena toys. Being able to graze, though, will be the best bet to match what horses would be doing naturally.

DebbieDisbrow – Back to the stallions, I think electric is the best bet. The second best would be the V-mesh fencing.

DebbieDisbrow – You could use just electric, or better yet, a strong fence system with electric on the inside of it–or V-mesh with electric (using stand-out insulators).

DebbieDisbrow – Stallions can be very laid back, but can also act like stallions–just remember you as the owner are responsible if anything happens or your horse gets out.

EquisearchStaff – I have seen a lot of metal tubing on gates as well, Lena. What do you think Debbie?

DebbieDisbrow – On metal tubing–I feel the best you can get is the 2” steel tube gates. You might find they’re a little pricier than other gates, but remember you get what you pay for. You’ll be happy with them, in the long run.

EquisearchStaff – Welcome to our chat Staceywig.

Staceywig – Sorry I logged on late, but I was wondering what you think about PVC fencing?

EquisearchStaff – There certainly is lots of post and rail all over the country, buckeye.

Lena – Debbie – do you feel tubing is as good as wood or does it depend on the farm situation?

DebbieDisbrow – Buckeye, there’s no fence that is 100 percent fool proof for horses. If anyone tells you there is, they aren’t a horse owner. The safer alternative to post and rail fencing is flex fencing. Post and rail isn’t bad, but it doesn’t have the benefits (low maintenance, longer life) for the customer.

DebbieDisbrow – My goal is to get you the best horse fencing up front–instead of putting costs in the upkeep.

DebbieDisbrow – Staceywig, that is a beautiful, decorative fence system.

Staceywig – What are the down sides of it?

DebbieDisbrow – Lena, tubing is much stronger than wood for gates. There’s no comparison. With wood you have splintering and nails. With the 2” steel gate, you won’t have those problems.

Lena – Thanks for the info. I’m dealing with an old timer who feels everything has to be wood.

DebbieDisbrow – Staceywig, PVC rails are 16” in length. If a horse hits the rails hard enough, they can pop out of the routings, or break. Each post should be concreted in the ground. If a post breaks, you have to pull out the post and the concrete to replace it. It really is beautiful, though. We recommend it WITH electric fencing.

buckeye – Debbie, I keep trying to get honest answers to question. I am new to this horse game. My wife and daughter are into it. I get to clean the stalls and fix this darn board fence. I am lost and need some help. I can’t figure these horses out!

DebbieDisbrow – Lena, again, if you have any additional questions, feel free to e-mail me afterwards.

Staceywig – How does the cost compare to board fencing?

buckeye – sorry they want to breed. can you see my frustration?

EquisearchStaff – That’s quite a situation buckeye!

buckeye – ok frustration, where do I start

Lena – Thanks, I will!

EquisearchStaff – Time is running low, so please ask your last question everyone!

buckeye – yea tell me. I thought a pony was a small horse…

DebbieDisbrow – Buckeye, how many horses do you want to fence in? Will your family ride in the fenced area? These are questions we’d ask before suggesting specific fence. You might choose combination fencing, it’s a wider rail fence with coated wire. And it can be any combination–a top wide rail and bottom wide rail with a wire in between.

DebbieDisbrow – That would help with the chores of keeping up the wood. When you’re talking about breeding, you might also need to separate pastures–have an area for the mare and foal. Combination fencing would help there, too, and be economical.

buckeye – Thanks to Debbie and Equisearch. I am learning. This helps. How do I know when the next chat is and how do I get in touch with Ramm?

EquisearchStaff – buckeye, it sounds like you may need a more thorough consultation. Perhaps you may want to contact Debbie later for more specific information.

DebbieDisbrow – Staceywig–back to the PVC fencing. Compared with board fencing, the two types are fairly close initially, but in years to come, the PVC will be much less expensive maintenance wise–unless a horse hits it.

EquisearchStaff – Equisearch is always a good source of information, buckeye. Check out our site for announcements of the next chat.

DebbieDisbrow – Buckeye–don’t worry, that’s how most people learn.

EquisearchStaff – Debbie and her husband Mike launched RAMMFence in 1989, largely in response to their own negative experience in purchasing a fence system. Debbie is a certified fence installer and has coordinated large-scale fence and barn projects in a variety of venues, including large breeding facilities, handicapped facilities, large institutions and equine residential developments. She is experienced in designing fence applications for heavy wind and snow conditions and is an indoor/outdoor arena consultant.

DebbieDisbrow – I am so thankful that I have had the chance to speak to you all. I feel so privileged to speak to you all.

Kimmie – Thank You Debbie, this has been very informative. I look forward to the next chat!

EquisearchStaff – Debbie can be reached at [email protected]

lena – Thanks you so much for your help. It makes a difference to hear what’s what from an expert rather than anecdotally (or from my cousin)!

EquisearchStaff – for further information about your fencing needs.

EquisearchStaff – Thank you all for joining us tonight.

Caroline – Thanks, Debbie, it was great info!

Jim – Very informative and well conducted.

EquisearchStaff – Also for more information on fencing, consult the April 2002 issue of Practical Horseman and the upcoming May issue of Horse and Rider.

EquisearchStaff – Please check out the Equisearch website for information on our next chat. Thank you, Debbie and fellow chatters. Goodnight!

buckeye – Debbie, Thanks for your input. I am looking forward to the next chat.

DebbieDisbrow – Thanks to all of you! Good night!

Ruffian – Debbie, thanks for a great chat. Good information.




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