Choosing Electric Fencing for Horses
DIY Fence Installation for Horses is Easy with Electric Tape and a Few Simple Tools
Installing electric fencing for horses is probably one of the smartest decisions we’ve made on our homestead. The heart of owning a horse 101 is fencing. Without it, you have a good chance that your horses will get loose, and when they’re loose, they can cause all sorts of mayhem around your farm (or at least take you on a run while you try to catch them). When it comes to fencing, we’ve become something of experts on our homestead, thanks to the seven mares, geldings, and stallions that we keep.
Homestead fencing can be made out of anything. I’ve seen lovely fence lines made from sturdy pallets. Of course for horse farms, wood is the traditional material for fences. Wire and rope are other options that work well for pigs, goats, and sheep. In my experience, however, an electric tape fence is the way to go for horses.
Electric fencing is economical, easy for anyone to install, and is very effective. Built properly, it doesn’t look untidy or unsightly. To build an electric fence, you first need to take into consideration which materials you think might be best suited to your horses and their temperaments.
To install electric fencing for horses, you’ll need the following items.
- A fence energizer
- Electric tape, wire, or rope
- Connectors (also called splicers)
- A grounding pole
- Fence posts
Electric tape comes in various measurements. With horses, most people use 1/2-inch tape to 2-inch tape; for our horses, we chose 2-inch tape to ensure they could see it. We have several young colts on the homestead, and they’re in a goofy adolescent stage, and sometimes have more bravado than sense.
Electric Wire Fencing
If you’re considering using wire to build an electric fence for your horses, forget about it! We initially tried a two-strand fence, using electric tape on the top rung and wire on the bottom. We made this decision because we figured with markers, our horses could see the bottom wire, and they would not try to run through the fence if they could see the electric tape.
Boy, were we mistaken! Before my husband could finish installing the wire part of the fence, one of our colts tried to make a break for it, and nearly decapitated my husband. To be honest, we tried the wire because it saved quite a bit of money on fencing for a 3-acre pasture, but we ended up returning it for extra 2-inch tape, which has been much more effective.
I think because the colt couldn’t see the wire, since we hadn’t been able to install markers yet, he didn’t realize it was there, and once he hit it, he panicked, and just blew through it for lack of a better response.
Similarly, I don’t recommend using electric tape smaller than 2-inch, because if the wind sets the tape flapping, or if you have a horse with poor eyesight, or a particularly flighty animal, they’ll have a hard time seeing it.
Measure Your Pasture
You’ll first need to measure the perimeter of your pasture to know how much electric tape to buy. Be sure to buy a bit more than you need, and if you have extra rolls, you can always return them.
You’ll also need to install fence posts. We used 8-foot wood posts, sunk 3 feet into the ground. We spaced them 16 feet apart, but if I could build the fence again, I would install them every 8 feet. When we get 40 mph wind, it can sometimes take down the fence. If your horse likes to blow through fences or is an escape artist, you can try installing them every 5 or 6 feet.
If you’ve ever wondered how much land does a horse need, you should provide at least one acre per horse, assuming your horse is between 14 and 18 hands. More is better, but one acre per horse is the minimum.
Gather Your Materials
Next, you’ll need connectors, an electric power box (either solar or plug-in), a grounding post, insulators, and wood posts to connect your tape to. The connectors (splicers) let you run electric tape the length of the perimeter, and the insulators allow you to connect the tape to the posts and run a continuous electric current. Without them, the current will short out because wood doesn’t conduct electricity very well. The grounding pole connects to the power box via a wire and completes the electric circuit.
Decisions About Energizers
When it comes to energizers, which are what conduct the electric current through the fence, you have a few choices. You can go with a solar energizer, which is great if you don’t have electricity in your barn or don’t want to use a power grid to run your electric fencing for horses. If you don’t want to worry about whether your solar box is working because of cloud cover or if there are several rainy days, then a plug-in box is better. We chose the latter because with young horses, we need the fencing up and running constantly.
You’ll also need to decide how strong of an electric current you want to run. We chose an energizer that works for a 15-mile perimeter. Essentially, the way electric boxes work is the more miles it’s rated for, the stronger the current, and the larger the piece of land it can service. And I can tell you that a 15-mile box feels like I’m having a heart attack if I touch it, so it’s pretty strong. Although it doesn’t feel too good to our horses, it’s effective and doesn’t hurt them at all.
While we use wood as fence posts, other options are metal posts and even PVC. When it comes to fence posts, your imagination is your limit, but I don’t recommend metal T-posts for horses because I don’t think they’re sturdy enough.
You can run two strands of electric tape, which has worked well for us as long as the electricity is on, or you can run three strands. We chose two strands because it’s effective and less expensive than running three strands.
Assembling Your Fence
To complete your fence, simply install your insulators on the wood posts. You will need 1 insulator per strand per post (so if you want a three strand fence, you’ll need 3 insulators per post.) Use connectors to keep your strands continual. Once you’ve completed your circuit, you can turn your power box on and double check the fence is hot the entire perimeter.
To check if the current is running, you don’t have to continually touch the fence. You can usually hear the current.
Installing electric fencing for horses doesn’t take that long. When we installed ours, it took us less than two hours to finish a 3-acre pasture.
I suggest removing your horses from the pasture before assembling, if your horses are curious or might interfere in any way. Choose a sunny day that’s not too hot, because being out in the direct sun in the middle of summer is miserable.
When it comes to fencing for horses, electric fencing is a great way to keep them in their pasture, and out of trouble!
Do you use electric fencing for horses?