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Installing Electric Horse Fencing Properly

Did you know that electric fences experience many problems? Did you also know that many of these problems can be avoided by spending a little bit of extra time on ensuring that the fence is properly installed?

For example, the biggest problem that owners with an electric fence experience is related to bad grounding. Perhaps this is due the haste the installer will adopt when the end of the project is near. In the beginning the installer will go to great lengths to install the fence posts. Then the wires follow, which already take a good bit of time. Thereafter the energizer will need to be installed, and finally the ground system – yet at this point the installer is in a hurry to get the job done and will most likely simply find the closest steel post to wrap a grounding around.
It does not take long for problems to occur, and then lengthy attempts at repairs will need to be made. Thus, it is wise to begin your installation with the energizer and the ground system. Do not cut corners, but instead follow all the manufacturer’s recommendations! For example, the manufacturer may specify that proper grounding will require three eight-foot ground rods which ought to be copper-coated for maximum efficiency. They will need to be about ˝ inch thick and should be placed about 10 feet apart from one another. If you are working with rocky soil that prevents you from adequately installing such rods, you may also bury a copper-coated pipe which should be more than 20 feet in length. Make sure to bury it as deep as possible. Once you have your rod system in place, you will want to connect it with galvanized wire – you may also use insulated cable – with a ground-rod clamp. If, as was noted in the example, you just wrap the wire around the rod, you will end up with a faulty connection.

If you fail to follow this advice, you will most likely end up with an electric fence that does not adequately permit for the completion of the voltage circuit. The energizer is supposed to compact the electric current to provide a high-voltage pulse that will be felt by a horse that touches the wire fence. As the electricity travels through the horse, it will eventually reach the ground, where the ground rod wire will lead it back to the energizer. Thus, the animal feels a slight shock. Yet if the ground system is inadequately installed, the horse will feel a negligible shock or none at all.

A few words of warning should also be followed:

  1. Do not try to save time by grounding your fence with water pipes or utility ground rods since this may permit voltage to enter your household water system. Additionally, if you install your grounding too close to a utility ground rod, you may put yourself at risk for lighting damage.
  2. The drier the climate in which you are living, the more ground rods you will need.

As you can see, electric fencing will be a good option for the horse owner who follows the recommendations of the manufacturer and who ensures that the fence will be properly installed from the get-go. Additionally, keep your and the horses’ safety in mind, and frequently check that the fence is in good working order with a voltmeter that is designed for use with electric fences.

Read the next horse barns article on Fence Gate Latches.
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