While barbed wire may have been the "The Wire That Won the West", electric fence might be the most useful fence ever invented. Easy to install, inexpensive compared to other fences and effective when installed properly, electric horse fence deserves serious consideration for your farm.
Electric wire horse fence is a fence consisting of one or more strands (usually three to five for horses) of wire powered by a specialized charging device. This charging device delivers a painful shock to any animal (or person) that touches the fence while touching the ground. This shock is strong enough to create an aversion to touching the fence but not strong enough to cause harm. There are other types of electric fence that utilize metal and plastic rope or tape instead of wire.
Electric Wire Horse Fence Benefits
Electric wire horse fences are considered psychological barriers -- your horse can usually push past the fence, however the fear of shock prevents them from attempting that. This means that your horse will not scratch or push against the fence. This significantly prolongs the life of your fence. In fact, many people use electric fence along with their wood, vinyl or no-climb horse fence to reduce the wear and tear on the fence.
Electric wire horse fence is one of the least expensive fencing options available. Materials cost for electric fence will often be under $1 per foot of fence. This is a tremendous cost savings over other fences that usually start at $5 per foot for materials.
Electric wire horse fence is easy to install, even on rolling and rough terrain. Metal line posts are often used and can be easily hand driven into the ground. Also, electric fence can be easily used as a temporary fencing solution, especially to cross fence pastures for improved grazing. Solar and battery fence chargers are available that make installation of temporary or remote electric wire horse fence easy.
Electric Wire Horse Fence Negatives
Electric wire horse fence has its shortcomings. It is important to regularly check the voltage of the fence to insure that there will be an adequate shock if your animals touch the fence. If the voltage becomes too low, animals may ignore the fence, especially under pressure.
Since electric wire horse fence is a psychological barrier and not a physical barrier, horses, especially when spooked can run through the fence. This is considerably more likely when the horses are moved to a new area where they are not familiar with the boundaries of their paddock.
It is imperative to keep weeds from growing onto or over an electric wire horse fence. Vegetation, especially when wet, will drain the voltage from the fence causing inadequate shock potential. Regular maintenance to clear the fence of weeds is required.
In order for electric wire horse fence to be effective, your horse must be trained to respect the fence. If your horse is not familiar with electric fence, and you are not comfortable training your horse, then electric wire horse fence may not be appropriate for you.
Choosing Electric Wire Horse Fence
When selecting your electric wire horse fence, one of the most important features is the charger. The electric fence charger is the heart of your fence and you need to purchase one that is appropriate for your situation. Always purchase a larger charger than your requirements reflect. An oversized charger will help prevent inadequate voltage from weeds pressure. Also, it will provide you with the capacity to add more fence, or more fence wires to existing fence without impacting the performance of your fence.
When selecting wire, you can choose from aluminum or steel wire. Aluminum is brighter and more visible than steel. Steel is stronger than aluminum. Aluminum is easier to work with than steel. You can often work aluminum fence wire without tools -- useful if your fence is installed far from your tool shed. We primarily use heavy aluminum wire for our interior fencing. The perimiter fencing of our farm is primarily heavy steel wire.
Whether you select aluminum or steel wire, your fence will be measured as the AWG (gauge) of the wire used for the fence. The lower the gauge the thicker and thus strong the wire is. Most fences have a gauge rating between 9 and 16.
Electric Wire Horse Fence Maintenance