Before beginning any horse fencing project, careful planning is crucial. To determine what is needed to construct your electric horse fence, decide how long your fence will be, how high you wish your fence to be, and how many strands you require on your fence. These decisions will affect the amount of materials required, how much polyrope, how many posts, how many insulators, and corner tensioners are needed for your horse fence, and will determine the size of the energizer required to power your electric horse fence.
The number of strands of polyrope required will depend on your circumstances, and anywhere between two and six strands may be used for permanent electric horse fencing. A higher fence is required for stallions, and a lower strand is required if you need to fence in foals. For standard horse fencing the top strand can be set at a height of 48 inches to 50 inches, but for stallions this can be increased to 60 inches. Spacing between strands should be 12 – 13 inches, leaving 24 inches between the ground and the bottom strand. While two strands may be adequate for dividing paddocks and pastures, a minimum of four strands should be used for perimeter fencing to ensure the safety of your horses.
Caution: Do not run your fence parallel to overhead power lines or telephone lines, try to avoid them if possible, and if this is not possible try to run the fence at right angles to the overhead lines.
What You Will Need
Charger (Energizer) + power source (battery, solar panel or electrical connection).
When choosing an energizer to charge your electric horse fence, decide which option will be more suitable for your use. A battery or solar powered unit will be portable, and thus offer more versatility, however, if your paddocks are going to be situated near an existing electrical connection, a mains powered unit may be more convenient, as you will not need to keep checking and replacing batteries. If using a mains powered charger, it must be connected to the electrical plug-in by running high voltage burial wire underground between the charger and the electrical power source. If this distance is greater than 50 feet it is recommended to get an electrician to run a length of 110 volt electrical cable to the fence and install a weather-proof electrical plug point near the fence.
To determine which energizer you require in terms of power needed for the length of fence, use the following guide: Length of fence x the number of strands of rope/tape, then add 50% to allow for future expansion.
Grounding rods, galvanized wire and brass clamps – A minimum of 1 x 1m grounding rod per 1000m fencing (or 500m for a two strand fence, 250m for a four strand fence, 200m for a five strand fence). For better earthing it is recommended that at least three grounding rods, spaced 10 feet apart, are used.
Steel Fencing T-Posts – Electric fencing can also be installed on wooden fence posts, fiberglass posts or PVC posts using the relevant insulators, or on plastic step-in posts for a temporary portable electric horse fence.
Steel T-post driver – a hollow cylindrical tube with a cap that fits over the T-post fitted with handles allowing the operator to manually ram the posts into the ground with ease using only a little amount of elbow-grease (alternatively a 3 pound sledgehammer will also do the job, but with a little more effort).
Intermediate plastic insulators suitable for steel T-posts. Plastic insulators come in many different varieties (ring, clamp, long-arm) suitable for a range of post types (wood, t-post) and conductors (tape, rope, electrobraid). Choose the correct insulator for your post and conductor.
Tensioners – corner/end strainers for steel T-posts. Tensioners take off the slack in the rope and keep the fence strands taut, they also serve as insulators.
Polyrope (conductor) – The conductor is the material that carries the electrical charge, and when the horse touches the conductor it will receive a shock, and will quickly learn to respect the fence and be conditioned into keeping away from the barrier. Conductors come in a range of offerings from electric horse tapes of different widths to polyrope and electrobraid. Polyrope may be substituted with 0.5 inch or 1.5 inch polytape or electrobraid (substituting insulators accordingly).
Gate Breaker Kit – Choose a spring-loaded gate breaker for polyrope (also available for polytape).
Warning Signs – to alert people of the danger of shock from the electric fence.
Fence Tester or voltmeter to test that the current is passing along the conductor and the fence is working.
Step by Step Guide for Installing an Electric Horse Fence
Draw a plan of the layout of your fence, indicating the layout of the fence posts, including gates and the position of your energizer. Work out what you need in terms of materials, then get everything ready before you start.
2. Fence Posts:
Install fence posts using a steel t-post driver or sledgehammer, starting with the end and corner posts then adding the inline posts spaced at regular intervals in-between. Inline posts can be spaced between 8 feet and 16 feet apart, but it is recommended that they are spaced no more than 12 feet apart in areas receiving high snow falls or wind. For a more stable fence use wooden fence posts firmly cemented into the ground for end and corner posts.
3. Intermediate Insulators:
Attach plastic insulators to the posts (make sure you use the correct insulator for your chosen post and conductor). Space the insulators on the posts according to your requirements. For a two strand fence set the insulators at a height of 24” and 48”, for a five strand fence space the conductors 12” apart placing them at a height of 12”, 24”, 36”, 48” and 60”.
Attach polyrope (or polytape) to one end and run along fence line, clipping rope onto insulators as you work along the fence line.
Pull the rope through the end tensioner ensuring it is pulled taut enough to remove the slack in the line, then tie off and cut. Be careful not to tension too tightly, you only need to remove the slack in the rope. When over stretched, polyrope can break and recoil with the potential to cause serious injury, it is therefore advised to wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles during installation. When cutting the polyrope, burn the ends to prevent the rope from unravelling. For fences of 1000 feet or longer use an end tensioner at both ends to tension the rope strands. For a multiple strand fence, repeat steps 4 & 5, then using polyrope or insulated wire, connect the rope strands electrically at one end of the fence.
6. Electric Gates:
Install spring-loaded gate-breaker kits where required.
Install metal grounding rods to earth your circuit. Earthing your fence properly is very important. Most faulty electrical fences are a result of inadequate grounding. If the fence is not properly earthed, the circuit will not be completed, and your horse will not feel a shock when it touches the fence. Depending on the soil type and moisture content you may need to sink the ground rods quite deep and you may require a number of these in areas where the ground is a poor conductor of electricity (dry sand soils). If using more than one grounding rod, connect the rods with galvanized wire attached to the rods using brass clamps.
CAUTION: Take care not to install ground rods within 50 feet of underground telephone cables or water pipes, or within 33 feet of overhead power lines.
Install the energizer, and connect the positive connector clip to the fence rope, then earth the fence by connecting the negative connector clip to the grounding rod/s.
9. Warning Signs:
Place warning signs where anyone unfamiliar with your electrical fence may come into contact with it.
10. Fence Tester:
Turn the energizer on and test the fence with a fence tester or voltmeter.
Benefits of Electric Horse Fencing
The benefits of electric horse fencing include the following:
- simple to erect
- quick to install
- can be installed by one person
- can be easily dismantled and moved
- can be easily added to in future
As you can see, cheap electric horse fencing is a handy alternative to conventional horse fencing. The materials required can be found at any farm fencing store, and the electric horse fence can be installed quickly by a single person, reducing labor costs. The height of your fence will be determined by the type of horses that you need to contain, foals will require a lower strand and stallions may require a higher strand than standard horse fencing. This will ultimately influence the materials required, and the total cost of your fencing project.
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