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Does Electric Fencing Increase Stress On My Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   8th Jun 2015   •   3,161 views   •   0 comments
Does Electric Fencing Increase Stress On My Horse

I donít like electric fencing. I know itís an inexpensive way to fence in horses, but Iíve always felt that itís very stressful way of containing them, especially in a small area. In some places, itís not legal to fence livestock within electric wire. Iíve seen some pretty gruesome pictures of horses that have gotten tangled in the strands. And, I know of horses that donít think twice about barging through them, electrified or not. I like the idea of Pasture Paradises, but I felt those that incorporate the use of electric fence to route the travel of the horses may be more stressful than helpful. I really dislike it for portable pens, when the space is just big enough for the horse to turn around in. Turns out my feelings about electric fencing being stressful for horses may have been groundless.

A study out of Switzerland has shown that horses do not experience any undue stress when contained within strands of electric fencing. Twenty horses were kept enclosed in two different sized areas, surrounded by either wooden or electric fencing. Each horse was kept in each of the four different pens for 90 minutes. During that time, researchers videoed the horses and examined the videos for signs of behaviour that would indicate stress. They also monitored the heart rate, and tested saliva samples for cortisol, the hormone released during stressful situations.

Related: Is Barbed Wire Fencing Safe For Horse Pastures?
Related: Build Your Horse a Pasture Paradise
Related: Reasons Not To Install A Pipe Horse Fence

What they discovered is that no matter the size of the pen, or what it was fenced with, there was no change in the horsesí stress levels. What the study did reveal however, is that horses contained with electric fencing did not move around as they did in the larger of the wood fenced pens. Horses moved less and were not as likely to get down and roll in the smaller of the pens. This leaves the impression that the size of a horseís pen or pasture may be more important than what it is fenced with. Which of course, makes sense.

So, when it comes to electric fencing, or any other for that matter, bigger may be better. Itís something to keep in mind when camping with your horse, or using it as a portable stall at an event. And, dividing off your pastures with electric fencing is probably okay, from a stress management point of view.

But, I still donít like electric fence. Because it stresses me. Unless I can hear the ticking of the charger, itís impossible to know if itís on when you have to get past it. And I will not touch it to find out, not even wearing rubber boots, which are supposed to insulate you but donít. And itís bad enough when you touch it by yourself. If you happen to touch it while holding a horse youíll get a wallop that makes you wonder why you arenít airborne. Actually, I was once when the pony I was leading threw itself backwards and lifted me off my feet. So while Iím glad electric fence may not be stressful for horses, I donít need a study to tell me how it stresses me.

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ref: http://www.appliedanimalbehaviour.com/article/S0168-1591(15)00094-5/ppt
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