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I would like to plant a 40 foot hedge along the back part of our garden.  I'd like it to grow to about 4 feet high.  BUT I need something that horses won't eat and will give us privacy all year round.  I have tried pampas grass and the horses ate all of that they have also eaten my forsythia.I have sandy soil.  Any ideas welcomed.


I would plant a holly hedge - just ensure that you buy a variety/ies with prickles and not the smooth type.  It will need protection from the horses whilst it becomes established, but after that they'll leave it alone. 


Berberis or pyracantha might put them off. Hawthorn or a native mix would make a good hedge and the birds would like it.


Ditto above - mix of pyracantha, holly and hawthorn would be perfect.


Hawthorn is the most common one for keeping horses in - or out - and is good for wildlife.  Nut's and Dove's suggestions are ideal if you want an evergreen. Do you have a bit of standard fencing in place like posts and wire or something?  If not, it would be worth putting something in place initially - it wouldn't have to be heavy duty, just give a visual  barrier while your hedge establishes. You can either remove it or just leave it in place and let the hedge cover it.



I've just put that round my boundary Edd - I'll send you the berries! 

I'm a bit puzzled as to what is currrently in place to stop animals getting into your garden from the field beyond.  I presume there must be some sort of boundary fence or other - perhaps you could describe it for us.

Bored horses will often chew at anything they can reach, so it's best to plant things well away from the boundary itself.  If there's some sort of post & rail fencing there are a few things you can do to stop horses reaching over.  Two methods which work really well involve the use of an adaptation of normal & commonly-used electric stock fencing (which can be battery operated) and which horses soon learn to steer clear of.  Because of this there can even be times when you don't need to have the electricity supply connected.

One of these adaptations enables you to put the electric tape along the top of the fencing, and another enables you to fix the tape about 18" away from the fence itself (on the field side) by means of brackets which look a bit like those you'd use for hanging baskets on a house wall.  I guess if you look at a few websites you'll see what I mean.  Even better if you can visit a local agricultural merchant/supplier and they'd be able to show you how it all works.

Have you thought of having a word about this with whoever owns the land and/or the horses?  perhaps they'd be willing to help either financially or in a practical way, and once the fencing was sorted out you'd be able to plant whatever you wanted.


if you've room, maybe you could plant a metre or so away from the fence so they can't reach over and this would leave enough room to run the lawn mower behind the hedge and also access to trim it.

I don't know about horses and holly, but from experience, I know deer love to eat it. Odd, but can't get enough of it.


Our  horses, ponies and cattle (and even our goats) left holly uneaten along the hedgerows - although I do understand that New Forest ponies, with their bristly muzzles, will browse on gorse so maybe they'd eat holly.  

Of course, some hollies don't have prickles - they'd probably eat that as would deer, sheep and anything else.  


Wow!  Thanks to all these wonderful ideas.  I really do appreciate all your help and will google all the hedges mentioned to find out more.

 Hypercharleyfarley.......we currently have a post and wire fence at the bottom of the garden. (between us and the horses)  The problem is that the owners of the horses insist on parking their cars directly in our line of view.  They also have enough clutter of pallets, material and old rubbish in the field that I've now had enough and want to screen off as much of their rubbish as I can without completely obliterating our view.  Yes, I have tried speaking to the horse owners but they just don't seem to understand!

Please, please do not plant blackthorn - The thorns are notorious for causing abscesses. We used to have terrible problems when the farmer trimmed his hedges, the thorns used to go up into the hoof - a blacksmith's nightmare and a vet's delight re expensive treatments!!

I too suggest a good gap between fence and hedge - Horses have long tongues as well as long necks and with the exception of holly, young leaves would be a delight!

I would suggest that you go to a tree nursery and get some really good well grown stock, so you stand a good chance of the hedge thickening quickly. Please don't be tempted to plant conifers - Colic and vet bills plus possible death if you don't know what you are putting in.

Good luck


I planted a holly hedge thinking the neighbouring cows wouldn't eat it.   Wrong.  The new shoots are very tender and juicy apparently so I ended up with a short, fat holly hedge.    We've now erected a barrier of metal mesh that builders use for reinforcing concrete and the holly is finally starting to grow upwards.

We have horses in a paddock across the road and they have eaten all one side of an abies Xmas tree I planted 4' from the fence and also went for an oak.   They don't seem to eat the odd hawthorn that's growing along the stream or a couple of native sambucus on the field edge.   Hawthorn does make a fast growing and wildlife friendly hedge.  You need to keep it trimmed to help thicken it.


As HCFarley has said, it's the responsibility of the owner of the land to see that boundaries are in good condition, not Luchris's. A little investigation to determine the owner, and perhaps a small polite conversation might help.

Obelixx is right- livestock rarely do much damage to Hawthorn - that's why it's the hedge of choice for 'em! A bit of evergreen stuff on the garden side will blank out the ugly views all year round and give the best solution. Not too late to get bare root hawthorn either (inexpensive) and make a start on your project Luchris 


You could get a mix of the dark pink and white flowering hawthorn

1. Have you approached the local District Council for advice as to whether the rubbish constitutes unlicenced tipping?

2. Is the barbed wire fence on the legal boundary and who is responsible for that boundary?

3. Do you have enough space in your garden to sacrifice a couple of metres on your side of the barbed wire and then plant your hedge out of the horses' reach? This may not seem fair to you, but you may spend years tussling with your neighbours. Make sure you leave access to get to the barbed wire to maintain it.



I think you probably need to establish who's responsible for the boundary fence in question.  If you have any paperwork relating to your property, the boundary ownership/responsibility might be shown like this:



which means  that whoever owns the land above the line is the "owner" of the boundary.  If the "T" were upside down and below the line, the owner of the land below the line would be responsible.  In other words, whoever owns the land on which the "T" lies is responsible for the associated boundary.

Sometimes things get a bit complicated.  For example,  it's often the case that in a road with a row/line of properties, each property-owner is responsible for two of the rear boundaries.  One way of explaining this is that if the rear garden is a simple rectangular shape, the owner would be responsible for two of the boundaries e.g. left-hand side and rear (imagine "L" upside down).  It's best not to to assume ownership of a boundary because sometimes "boundary" can equare to "minefield".

Of course things aren't always clear-cut!  However, what you can do (if you've got enough room) is create another fence inside the existing boundary, and attach some horse-deterrent electric fence-type gadget.  In this case you'd need something like a car battery in a waterproof container, if it's too far away to connect to the mains electricity supply.  I think I mentioned in my earlier post that it's probably best to go and get some ideas/advice from a local agricultural supplier/merchant.  A bit of googling beforehand will probably help too!

sorry - a few typos in the above reply.  I haven't yet discovered a way of editing after posting.   Anyone know if that's possible?



Whilst there are lots of opinions in the posts above there are no facts.  Where in law does it say that the cattle/horse owner is responsible for stopping their cattle/horse eating hedging, plants etc that are on the other side of the fence.


Don't think it does - but it is the cattle/horse owner responsibility to keep his animals in the field so he'd be daft to let them eat holes in the hedge and walk through, therefore it's up to him/her to put up stock-proof fencing to keep his animals in the field. 

It's also just courteous and part of the give and take of living in a rural area not to plant toxic plants alongside the boundary of a field which has stock in it, and if you want to grow a particular plant or hedge and avoid it being eaten, then you plant it within your own property and out of reach of the stock in question.

Katherine W

On a bad year when fresh grass is scarce horses may eat just about anything, but the one thing my greedy ponies never touched is elder, which is fortunate since it happens to be one of my favourite shrubs-trees, and it is neither poisonous nor dangerously spiky. I think it is the smell that puts them off. Just a thought.