Electric fences for horses are economical and flexible. If the horse travels such as in competitive trail riding, portable electric fencing can help keep the horse safely contained. Electric fences for horses ideally need to be kept between 5,000 and 9,000 volts, according to Horse and Rider magazine. The bare minimum for an electric fence should be 4,000 volts.
Electric fencing for horses needs to be hooked up to a changer that is approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This will ensure that the voltage comes at an even rate instead of spiking to dangerously high levels. Chargers for electric fences should be approved safe for use for people as well as horses and livestock. Never place an electric fence near recreation areas where horses are known to roll because the horse may roll right into the fence. Also, use wide mesh wiring so that horses can easily see it.
Do not take it for granted that an electric fence will consistently deliver steady amounts of voltage. Fences should be tested daily with a digital thermometer or voltmeter. It is best to check a wire as far away from the charger as possible to see if the voltage is constant throughout the entire fence line. If the fence suddenly drops more than 1,500 volts, check along the fence line for damage or for downed wires. The voltage should not go above 9,000 volts or the horse may be electrocuted.
It is normal for electric fences to put out 500 to 1,000 volts less in the morning than at any other time of day due to dew and other condensation. Vegetation can take voltage away from an electric fence, so be sure to mow or trim grass or other plants regularly so they do not come in contact with wires. Do not use heavy-duty household electric cable for the charging cable or the wire that connects from the charger to the fence. This type of wire can only safely transmit 600 volts. Use insulated wire approved for 20,000 volts.
Anyone placing their horses in an area enclosed by electric fencing needs to be aware of the symptoms of electrocution in horses. Horses should not be near electric fencing during storms. Horses can also be electrocuted if they stand in a pool of water through which a live wire runs. Symptoms of electrocution include singed hair, burn, unconsciousness and sudden loss of coordination; the horse may act seemingly blind or become partially paralyzed. Contact a vet immediately.
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