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Cole Porter turned a poem by Bob Fletcher into the hit song "Don't Fence Me In." Yet many people decorate their yards and flower beds with split rail, picket and various types of wire fences. They often cut off their back yards from prying eyes with privacy fences of wood, brick, vinyl or shrubbery. After all, Robert Frost did say, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Non-consumer businesses sometimes surround their buildings with brick or chain link security fences. Depending on the level of security needed, they may even top them with barbed wire. Likewise farmers protect their crops and contain their livestock with wire mesh, barbed wire or electric fences. An old farmer's advice says, "Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong."

That's not bad advice for motorcyclists either as we need to build a fence around us that protects us from things that could end our ride earlier than we expected. To properly safeguard us, that fence does need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong. Anything less could let an errant vehicle or any other challenge slip into our path and cause a problem we're not ready to handle.

Sitting on top of a horse gives you a good view of your surroundings. We need to be able to see what's going on as we travel down the road. Sitting horse-high allows us to have a clear view of what other drivers are doing and what changes in the road surface we might encounter. The sooner we can see problems developing, the easier it can be for us to make them less of an issue or to avoid them altogether.

A pig-tight fence has no holes big enough for the pigs to climb out and escape. Our defenses also need to be tight to ensure no pigs (problems) slip through. Our rider radar must recognize hazards trying to creep in to do us harm so we can engage the necessary countermeasures to make sure they don't get to us. If the pigs can sneak past our defenses, we can be caught by surprise and unprepared to handle the situation.

Not only does a good fence need to be tight enough to keep the pigs at home, it must also be sufficiently strong so the bull doesn't get loose. In the same way, our resolve must be strong so our attention stays focused on what we're doing on the road. We can't afford to take our mind off our riding even for a second or we risk the perils of a wild bull charging through our fence like we're wearing a red flag.

A fence can provide a safe area for whatever is inside its boundaries and the one we build around us should do just that for us. But to give us that level of protection, it must be like the old farmer suggests; horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong. We must use all of our resources to keep it impenetrable to the wild or domestic animals we face on the road.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!