Although horse rubbing can be a common occurrence, it may need some proper attention if there’s an underlying health or skin problem. If it’s just a case of some casual rubbing on the fence, then you’ll probably want a solution to protect both your horse and the fence from damage.
This rubbing can wear a horse’s rug or tail out fairly easily and can be difficult to grow back in the case of a tail for some horses. Fence or wire rubbing can cause some serious damage to any fencing setup, causing alot of money in repairs and can potentially leave gaps in the fencing for other animals to escape through.
Whether it’s health reasons or a general habit that’s causing the rubbing, try following our top tips below to stop your horses from rubbing on fences altogether.
Keep Them Clean and Do Regular Health Checkups
This should be your first port of call as you need to make sure there are no underlying health issues or skin conditions causing the itching. This aims to tackle the problem head on and hopefully avoid the need for the horse to itch or scratch in the first place.
Keep the horse clean by getting into a regular washing routine, this is not only good practice for hygiene reasons, but can also eliminate a lot of nasty buildups and insect problems. There are generally three main health reasons as to why a horse rubs its tail on a fence – dirty udders or sheaths, insects or parasites in the tail and skin problems.
Cleaning the udders and sheaths on a regular basis is a great start to avoid a buildup around the genitalia area, especially as the horse cannot reach it if it’s causing discomfort. If you’re a beginner at cleaning horse udders and sheaths, then be sure to check out this guide on the process.
Insects, parasites and lice in the tail are another very common problem and like the udder and sheath problem, horses can’t reach the area by themselves and will need an outlet to itch on. This is why you have to keep on top of your regular health checkups and constantly check tails for things like pinworms which can lay eggs and can be passed on to other animals that come into contact with the eggs, especially if the horse has been rubbing against the fence and another horse touches those eggs on it.
Keep the tail as clean as possible using tail sprays, repellents and special shampoos to avoid picking up anything that could potentially cause irritation around the tail area or even spread to other animals. You don’t need to go overboard here, just get into the regular habit of brushing and washing the tail.
Dry or flakey skin is another problem that can cause itching and rubbing, especially in hot weather where sweat and the heat can dry out the horse’s coat very easily. Keep the horse cool in the heat where possible, but if there’s problems with dry or itchy skin, then don’t try to wash away the issue, instead, try to brush and groom the coat as much as possible.
Another thing to keep on top of is a good diet with the right nutrition. This not only keeps the horse nice and fit, but the right diet with some supplements and vitamins mixed in can help develop and maintain a strong coat, avoiding common skin conditions that can occur.
Install Electric Fence Tape
The most common and effective solution is to switch to an electric tape fence to stop your horses going near the fence altogether. You can add some temporary posts to run the electric tape or wire around the inside of the fence, getting the horses into the habit of learning to keep away from the fence, with the idea to eventually remove the electric setup once the horses have learned to respect it.
If the horses don’t respect the setup, then you could always upgrade the electric fence charger unit to give off a more powerful shock to deter the animal. If you find the horses are also reverting back to their original itching on the fence behavior, you could always look to make the electric fencing setup permanent if that’s an option for you.
Use an Itching Post or Scratching Station
An itching post may not stop excessive rubbing from the horse, but it should act as a replacement for the fence. If you have designated scratching stations that the horse can use anytime as it is trained to use, then you will save yourself a fortune in fence replacement and repairs.
There are some great, cheap DIY solutions here, such as tying some brushes or brooms together or even using old road sweeper brushes if you can get your hands on them for an effective self-grooming setup.
Although this isn’t always an option, if you find the horses are doing the rubbing during certain times such as after meals, then you could potentially stable them up during these times to train them not to rub.
Again, this might not stop rubbing, but it does ensure that your fencing setup isn’t on the receiving end of those damaging rubs. You can always set up a stall scratcher in the horse’s stable for a bit of relief and give the horse an alternative outlet to rub on.
Tackle Their Behavior
Health and skin issues are the first thing you should assess and rule out, if these aren’t an issue, then the rubbing on the fence may just be a bit of a fun or a habit that the horse has developed.
It may even be the case that the horse is bored, anxious or stressed which requires some proper care and attention.
You can try putting in a range of different toys and treats in an attempt to stimulate the horse and make things less boring for it, especially if it’s stabled up for most of the day.
As well as adding some fun things to keep the horse interested, It’s also important to give it some direct care and attention yourself. Exercise the horse where possible, let it roam around with other horses in bigger, more open spaces of land.
If you notice that the fence rubbing is occurring out of boredom, especially after feeding times, then you can try adjusting the feeding method by utilizing a slow feeder to try and allow more consistent feeding throughout the day.