After losing a couple of racehorses to fence injuries, Clover Glen Agistment Farm in SA found the one product that gave them peace of mind and animal safety: Gallagher's EquiBraid. Despite skittish horses spooked by bad weather, Clover Glen has not had a single fence injury.
Craig Fitzgerald grew up around racehorses. His dad, Maurie, used to breed, own and train them, including Tumbling and Sunny Joanne. So it was a natural Craig and his wife Leonie would end up involved in the industry.
In 2005, the couple developed Craig's childhood home, at Yankalilla, SA, into an agistment property, having run a landscaping centre for six years before that. Craig had previously managed and consulted with dairy semen company Worldwide Sires Australia/HISCOL for 18 years, finding "the emphasis on pedigrees between top dairy cattle and race horses quite similar".
Craig says, "Dad used to train and work horses on the area where we've now set up all the paddocks. Soils on the property on the Fleurieu Peninsula have a good sand base, which is great for horses' feet in particular.
"We agist between 40 and 50 horses, mainly for David and Richard Jolly and Dennis O'Leary. It works well, because we race our horses predominantly with those three trainers." (In conjunction with agistment, the Fitzgeralds run Clover Glen Racing, whose stock includes Magical Pearl, Big Slick and Basil Da Man.)
However, in 2009, very bad luck struck out of the blue with injuries and losses caused by the type of wire fencing they had.
"Colts and yearlings are boisterous and sometimes take on the fence; but they would just get stuck in that wire, and, although it could break, the tension on it saw it wind around their legs and strip them.
"Sometimes even just a horse rolling or in bot fly season would see them get hurt in the fence.
"So we had to change the fencing for the animals' safety. The agistees were wonderful and stuck with us, but on top of safety, the insurance company was getting nervous. We didn't want everything to fall away just because of the fencing."
Research to find the safest
Craig says some quick research led him to Gallagher's EquiBraid.
"As soon as I found the EquiBraid rope, it looked to be the answer." Clover Glen has since fenced 22km with EquiBraid, which is powered by a SmartPower MBX1500 Energizer with advanced lightning protection, remote control and self-diagnostic capability.
"The wire we had was a bit like a cheese cutter: as soon as it hit the horse's leg and the skin wrinkled, it sat at that spot and cut — and it cut deep.
"Whereas the EquiBraid, with its thicker diameter, doesn't cut; all it does is take some hair off. The horse hits the fence and it just rolls off their leg; they either get straight back out of it and stay in the paddock or they'll break the rope. And that's no problem, because all you need is a pair of scissors, tie a knot, and away you go if you need to, and at a later date, apply the Gallagher joiner.
No treatable injuries
"I'm not afraid to say that we haven't had a treatable injury due to fencing since the EquiBraid. It hasn't caused any issues.
"I don't know how they could injure themselves with EquiBraid. With the wire, we had some sort of injury every month — whether from kicking out in bot fly season, or rolling near the fence and getting in it —but with the EquiBraid rope, those fence injuries don't occur.
"One particular thunder storm we had, saw eight fences down, four horses out, and one had even jumped into another paddock —but we did not have a single injury to treat. If it was the previous wire, it would have been a vet job all day."
Clover Glen Agistment Farms is 52ha (128 acres), comprising 29 individual paddocks, which is all double fenced with a five-metre raceway in between. "That just takes sniffing each other or getting in the fence when they strike out at each other, out of the equation," Craig says.
"We basically followed the paddock layout we had, but Matt [McLauchlan, Gallagher's Territory Manager for SA and Broken Hill] suggested a couple of ways to split the property in half, so it's easier to identify a short if it occurs."
Installation a breeze
"And it's so easy to install, anybody can do it. The people who have been to look at it —including the insurance company, who has recommended it to others — can see how simple it is. You don't need tensioners, twitching, or to do the right figure-eight knots like you do with wire.
"All you need is a drill and a pair of scissors. You can take away all of your struts and you don't need end assemblies with diagonal wire that a horse can cut themselves on; you only need a good depth and strength strainer because you don't have that tension. It's all just hand tight.
"We have three staff who work with us. They helped me put it up, and any of those three girls can deal with any issue with the fence. It's just really easy."
Peace of mind and service
Craig says the peace of mind from EquiBraid has been immense.
"I have loyal clientele base, but loyalty can only go so far. We knew the fencing had to change.
"We have two hills on our property and the worst bit was going over the second hill and seeing what was over the other side, seeing if a horse was in the fence — particularly after a night of bad weather.
"Now, we don't have any of those issues. I have that much confidence in the EquiBraid, I know that is not an issue. On top of that, I couldn't be happier with Gallagher's service."
For more information visit http://www.gallagher.com.au