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Practical Advice

Electric Fencing Guide for Horses

Electric fence is ideal for horses because it:
  • Is safer than traditional fencing
  • Works effectively
  • Can prevent cribbing and wear on the fence
  • Is less expensive than traditional fencing
  • Is simple to install and maintain
  • Is easy to electrify an existing fence
Horses are easy to control with electric fencing. They are intelligent animals and quickly learn to respect an electric fence. In addition, horses have thin hides and are usually shod. If shod, the metal horse shoes make an excellent earth connection. A shod, well-groomed horse will feel a more intense shock than a long haired horse without steel shoes.

Horses tend to use traditional fences as scratching posts, causing the fence to weaken or sag over time. They may also fall into the habit of "cribbing" or chewing fences. An electric fence prevents both of these behaviours, thus protecting the horse from harm and prolonging the life of the fence.

If a horse is spooked and runs through traditional wire or wooden fencing, injury is more likely to occur than with an electric fence made of poly tape, wire or rope.

To safely contain horses, you need an energiser that maintains a minimum of 3,000 volts up to the end of the fence line. On very short fences, up to 200 yards long, an energiser of 0.05 Joules would be adequate for subdivision. Voltage levels and therefore the shock are affected by vegetation on the fence line, length of fence and type of poly tape or rope.

Wire Spacing Guide

Electric fencing for horses - Wire Spacing Guide

Fence posts should be of sufficient height to ensure good visibility of the conductor. For example, a 17 hands horse would be best contained by a post which permits a top wire of around 122cms (48 inches) above ground. A 14 hands pony could be contained with a post of 96cms (38ins) The posts for temporary fencing can be spaced up to 10 metres apart but ensure the wire is well anchored at the ends of the fence.

Two strands of tape or rope provide optimum visibility and safety with the bottom one at about lower chest height and the top one at upper chest level. To contain foals, be sure to have a strand of electrified poly tape/rope close to nose level.

Electrifying an Existing Fence

You can easily add electrified wire to an existing fence. This option can prevent "cribbing" or chewing the tops of wood fences, keep horses from jumping, or prevent animal pressure on the fence. Select from a variety of Rutland insulators for post-top or offset fence wire mounting to existing fence.

Note: We acknowledge that, for aesthetic reasons, many people prefer green tape, rope and posts. However, for high visibility against the green background of grass or hedges, we recommend the use of white fence material.

Note: Conventional high tensile fence systems and barbed wire are not recommended for equine fencing, as they are more likely to injure horses should they run into them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is electric fencing safe for my horses?
The short sharp shock your horse receives from an electric fence will not injure it, but will teach it to respect and avoid the fence. Very roughly, the shock produced by a small energiser is similar to a sharp whack by a riding crop.

Traditional fencing is more apt to injure horses when they get scared or spooked and attempt to push through or jump over it. A properly installed electric fence system is the safest, most visible method to keep your horses contained.

Why is electric fence better than other types of horse fences?
Electric fencing is the most cost effective and efficient method of containing horses while safeguarding them from injury. Barbed wire, woven-wire, and wooden fences can injure a "spooked" horse that attempts to run through or jump over them. Injuries a horse will sustain if it gets tangled in barbed wire may be fatal.

Electric fencing is lower cost, easier to install, requires less maintenance and controls horses more effectively than traditional fencing.

What's the best way to fence aggressive horses or stallions?
If normally kept segregated for breeding purposes stallions, or other aggressive horses, may become highly motivated to escape confinement, especially when nearby mares are in heat.

To contain aggressive horses, maintain 3,000 - 4,000 volts to the end of the fence line. Three or four strands of fence wire are best. The more aggressive the horse, the higher the shock must be to discourage them so generally higher joule energisers are recommended.

How do I prevent "cribbing"?
An electrified wire can easily be added to an existing fence. This option can prevent "cribbing" or chewing the tops of wood fences, as well as keep horses from jumping, or prevent animal pressure on the fence. A range of Rutland insulators is available to allow an electrified wire to be erected on the top or interior of the fence. Offset type insulators will put the fence wire 13 – 22 mm out from the existing fence, preventing animals from pressing against it.
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