The Story behind the Story

Protect the Horse - Protect the Rider

Since 1973, when Secretariat hit the scene as a three-year-old going on to win the Triple Crown, there isn’t anything I have not loved about horses, particularly the Thoroughbred. As an owner of steeplechase race horses since 1992, I have probably owned outright or in partnership over thirty race horses, most of them jumpers. So intrigued with this beautiful sport, my wife and I also founded the QUEEN’S CUP STEEPLECHASE in 1995, now considered by most horsemen to be one of the safest and finest steeplechase racecourses on the National Steeplechase Association’s circuit.

Safety has always been my mantra, though I am realistic to know that sometimes, horse and rider get hurt; sometime catastrophically. In the eighteen years I have owned race horses, I have had a number of my own ho
rses maimed and a couple suffered the ultimate fate while racing. Two exceptionally nice ones paid the ultimate price. Interestingly, both horses were talented jumpers but for whatever reason, decided to go long, landing squarely on top of the frame, both with devastating results. Over the past few years, I have had jockeys, owners and trainers share their stories of their favorite horses being lost or seriously injured due to the fence they competed over, not to mention the serious injuries some jockeys have received due to their mount taking a fall.

The loss of horses and those stories were the impetus to investigating and eventually creating a new, state-of-the-art fence that would be more forgiving in the event of a jumping mishap yet lighter and easier to set up and move about. As part of my mission, it was clear that steeplechase racing here in the United States and some other parts of the world had lost the art of jumping. Fences were getting smaller and the pace of the race faster. This lead me to think - could an artificial fence with a bigger, fuller presentation allow jumping to get back in the game thereby slowing the pace of the race, in hopes for making safer racing? Many experts in the game believe this is the case and therefore, my friend and retired champion American jump jockey Jeff Teter and I, along with our fence consultant and fence builder, Bill Watt of Watt Fences, Ltd. of North Yorkshire England went down the path of investigating a new fence design along with other qualified and interested horsemen.

Over three years in the making and over a hundred thousands dollars invested in research, design and mistakes, in March of 2010, we introduced the patent pending SafTfence plastic fence frame and birch branch system in a state-of-the-art, yet fully portable design.

The SafTfence system consist of a plastic stepped box with 396 sturdy plastic birch branches held into the frame with plastic thread and nylon nuts, looking more like a birch hedge. The height of the entire frame and birch branch can be as little as 40” tall to as much as 60” depending on the needs of the fence designer and discipline. Want to build your own fence for schooling or cross country purposes? The SafTfence branch can be stuffed individually for a custom and personal design. Best yet for fence builders, designers and horsemen alike, no more stuffing, tightening and trimming real birch or cedar for competitions, as this fence provides a consistent hedge every time.

Most importantly, the SafTfence hedge can be made as stiff (or soft) and tall (or small) as need be and is most forgiving to error of judgement by horse or rider. The fence’s presentation is impressive to look at as it is to jump. Riders tell me the horse really looks at the fence and is less likely to take liberties with it.

SafTfence now offers two unique products for sale:   


  1. SafTfence brand products including injection molded birch branch, as a stand-alone branch or can be placed in a 90” (2.285m) stepped plastic molded or steel frame

  2. Fornells patented extruded birch is available as loose individual sprigs or in one meter blocks, with heights from 700mm - 900mm

We are now producing plastic birch and frames right here in the United States and depending on your order, shipped right to your door within a few days. Shipping overseas is also available.

I hope you’ll take this opportunity to discover a new way to look at fences, whether you’re racing, schooling or riding cross country or in a ring.


William J. Price

SafTfence, LLC

Managing Member


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