Electric Fence for Horses
3 July 2017 | Beth
Electric Fences are a great option for keeping horses where you want them! They are affordable (in comparison to permanent fencing), adaptable and easy to install. You can use an electric fence for strip grazing, or as a more permanent solution to keep your horses in their paddocks.
For tall horses, you typically want 'barriers' at 140 cm, 95 cm and 50 cm from the ground. For smaller horses and ponies you typically want barriers at 120 cm, 75 cm and 45 cm from the ground. You'll want fence posts that are spaced out approximately every 3 - 5 metres apart. These distances are all guidelines. If you have a well behaved horse, you'll often manage with 2 strands of barrier and can add a third strand if the horse starts challenging the fence. If your ground is flat and the area is not too windy, you can place your posts further part. If the ground is undulating, or exposed to the elements, you may need to place your posts closer together. The aim is to ensure your fence material does not hang too low.
The fence posts can either be permanent wooden posts, with plastic insulators screwed on to hold the barrier. Or plastic polyposts, with metal spikes at the bottom that push into the ground. The plastic polyposts already have books and loops to hold your barrier. Wooden posts are stronger, but more expensive. Plastic posts have the advantage of being easily moved, to change grazing areas or to keep horses apart at different times of the year. To add extra strength to your fence, you can add metal posts or wooden posts at the corners of the fence. Metal posts needs special insulators that go through the pre-drilled holes.
The best barrier for horses is either electric fence tape or electric fence rope. Rope is typically stronger and less likely to catch in the wind, but slightly more expensive. Tape comes in a variety of widths. The narrower the tape, the less conductive it is, but the cheaper it is. Tape starts at 12 mm, which is good for short fences and strip grazing. 20 mm tape is the most common tape. And 40 mm tape is good for horses that are difficult to contain of for larger fences. We do not recommend using 40 mm tape in very windy fields as it 'catches' in the wind and creates a sail effect.
The quality of your electric fence rope or tape is important. You want a conductive barrier - so the more conductive strands, the better. The strands need to be of good quality stainless steal and of a good diameter. A starting tape typically has 4 stainless steel conductors of 0.2mm diameter. The plastic also needs to be of good quality, so it is UV resistant. The top quality tapes comes with anti-UV warranties of up to 5 years. Recently we have seen a number of cheap import tapes coming into the market with poor quality steel and plastic that becomes brittle and snaps - please be warned. We have also seen a number of cheap import plastic poly-posts that bend and snap - again, please be careful!
The energiser is the most important part of your kit, and the most expensive item you'll need to purchase. If you have access to the mains, it is best to use a mains energiser as they are slightly more reliable (no batteries to worry about) and good value for money. Having the energiser inside also protects it from theft! If a mains energiser is not an option, you have a choice of a 12 volt battery operated energiser, or a 9 volt battery operated energiser. 12 volt batteries are rechargeable (typically needing to be recharged every 2 - 4 weeks, depending on the type of battery and the type of energiser you have), whereas 9 volt batteries are usually disposable (typically needing replacing every 3 months or so, depending on the type of battery and energiser you have). You can also get solar energisers, which use the power of the sun to recharge the internal battery in the energiser.
You need to pick an energiser that is easily powerful enough to run your electric fence. The cheaper energisers usually run smaller fences, and the price goes up as the energiser gets more powerful. Most energisers have a light that indicates that the energiser is working and to alert you if the battery is struggling. Some energisers also have extra features, like the ability to set the energiser to 'high' or 'low' power or the ability to know exactly how much voltage is on the fence. Some energisers come with an earth stake, but most energisers will need a 50 cm or 1 metre earth stake. Your fence will not work without an earth stake.
It is also a good idea to get a fence tester, so you can problem shoot and fix any problems on your fence.
Gates are easy to install. There are a range of insulated electric fence gate handles, that ensure the electricity flows through the gate. Just be careful to ensure that when you open the gate, you do not drop the handle on the ground.
If you decide to get a 12 volt battery operated energiser, please get a 12 volt leisure battery, not a car battery. A leisure battery is designed for continuous use and will last longer and protect your energiser. A car battery will run your energiser, but it will not last as long and can end up damaging your energiser.
Please do not tie knots in your electric fence tape or rope, as this can cover some of the conductive wires with plastic and prevent the electricity flowing around the fence. Please use conductive tape or rope connectors.
When setting up and monitoring your fence it is important to:
We specialise in electric fences for horses. All of our kits are made either here in the UK, or in Germany and are of excellent quality. We have links directly with the manufacturers so can often excellent products at unbeatable prices.
We are always happy to give advice, or to help create a kit that is right for your and your horse. Please don't hesitate to give us a call with any questions: 01323 406212
FarmCare UK: Clipper and Electric Fence Specialist