The Best Electric Fences for Horses
They say that good fences make good neighbors. This must have been thought up by a horse owner originally, because the motto of every horse seems to be “don’t fence me in.” No matter what the reason, every horse seems dead-set on finding a way out of the paddock or pasture. Some of them are able to open gate latches and bolts, others are talented jumpers, and still others have apparent suicide wishes and are capable of bursting through their fences. If the fence is just made out of wood or PVC, some horses won’t respect it. These particularly stubborn individuals may benefit from electric fencing.
If the thought of electric fencing is intimidating to you, or on the other hand, if it piques your curiosity, read on!
Why Should I Install Electric Fencing?
As mentioned, some horses have minimal respect for fences. They may lean on them to get to the grass on the other side, which is obviously better than the grass in their own paddock. Some horses chew fence boards due to boredom, habit, or dietary needs. Some horses also use boards as scratching posts. All of these activities weaken the boards and posts, making them likely to break over time. Reinforcing existing fencing with electric fencing is a cost-effective way to address this issue.
Electric fencing is effective for temporary fencing systems, for sectioning off a part of the pasture or paddock. This is important if there are poisonous plants in part of a pasture, or if the grass needs to be regrown due to overgrazing. Electric fencing is relatively low-maintenance, requiring nothing more than a simple 110-volt plug-in, battery or solar panel. There are also combination systems available. They are light and easy to install, and they are quick to repair as well. The voltage in an electric fence is not enough to injure a horse, just enough to make them uncomfortable. For most horses, it is enough to make them respect the fence and not try to push their luck on it.
The Best Types of Electric Fencing
Electric fencing comes in two varieties: cord and tape. Cord offers a stronger voltage opportunity, since it often involves thicker wires. Most of these cords are actually braided cables with multiple wires nestled into the cable. These cords offer a stronger shock if touched, but will still break if a horse charges at it or gets a leg caught under it Thus this option minimizes the chance for injury in the case of accidents. Another option is electric tape fencing, which is effective at offering a visual barrier to the horses. The tape also has fine metal wires to conduct electricity running through it, but it is a weaker material, making it easier to break and require more frequent repairs.
The best visual barrier, with a 2-in thick tape, blue borders, and UV stabilization, is the Field Guardian 2 In PolyTape Classic. This product, made in the USA, has glowing customer reviews, and is suitable for fencing paddocks, arenas, and pastures. For harsher conditions and more stubborn animals, there is also the Field Guardian 2 In 18 Wire PolyTape, which features 18 wires for greater durability.
For cord electric fencing, also known as electric rope fencing, Powerfields offers a 9 wire 7 mm Hot Braid, and Field Guardians offers a MegaBraid PolyRope. The main difference between these two ropes is that the Field Guardians cord boasts a 1,5000lb tensile strength. Both ropes are durable, made in the USA, and have glowing customer reviews. If you have large pastures and herds, we recommend the Baygard 8 Strand Super HD PVC Coated Polywire is designed for cattle ranges, making it a good choice for standing up to rambunctious groups of horses.
How to Plan an Electric Fence
The first thing that you need to determine if you need the fence to be temporary or permanent. Permanent fencing for horses needs posts that are about 7-9 feet apart. If they are further apart than this, the electric fence will sag and lose its effectiveness. For temporary fences, the posts must be 3-4 feet apart. Since the posts cannot be driven as far into the ground, their strength must come from them being closer together. The top string of the fence should be at least 135 cm (about 4.5 feet) high to keep your horse from jumping out.
If you have an existing fence, you will need to install insulators on the fence posts. These act as holders to keep the cords or tapes in place. Some models of insulators can be screwed directly into wooden posts, while others require a drill and screws to install them on the posts. Which one you choose will depend on the width of the tape or cord you decide to install. If you are constructing a temporary fence, you can install Poly Posts or Step-In posts at regular intervals, which feature holders for the electric cords or tapes. For more permanent pastures or larger groups of horses, it is recommended to install more durable fence posts. On the other end of the spectrum, for camping or shows, you could invest in a portable corral if your horse is calm and has already learned to respect electric fences!
Whether you want to reinforce your existing fences or install an entirely new fencing plan, electric fencing can be a worthwhile investment for your pastures and paddocks. There are several types in different strengths such that you are certain to find something that will be strong enough to convince your four-legged friends that it is better to stay in their pasture. Don’t worry about the electric shock – it is more to surprise your horse than hurt him. Then the fence will represent more of a psychological than a physical barrier anyway. Regardless, your horses will stay safe and happy in their pasture or paddock, where they belong, and not visiting your neighbors a mile away.
What kind of fencing do you have for your horses?