My horse doesn't understand hotwire. Need serious help! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-11-2009, 03:46 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Portland, OR
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Question My horse doesn't understand hotwire. Need serious help!

So, on Saturday I turned my new 3 year old, Thurston, out for his first turn-out at his new barn. I spent a few minutes walking him around the perimeter of hotwire fencing. He seemed calm and relaxed so I took his halter off. He immediately walked over to the fence and leaned on it, which shocked him. After the shock he bolted and ran through 2 fences, and hurt himself (minor leg and chest cuts/scrapes, and pulled a bunch of muscles in his neck when he "fell" trying to get over the second fence). Mind you, he did not jump over these fences, he did not slow down, nothing. Just bashed straight through them. He seems to be doing ok with various first aid things, bute for pain, icing his pulled muscles, etc. My biggest concern now that he has come through the worst of it and is healing, is what I do in the future. How do I ever turn him out? He's 3 and will be a HUGE pest if he has to stand in his stall all the time. What do I do? How do you train horses to stay in fencing. I took him back to the pasture this morning while hand walking him, and led him around it, and he doesn't seem to have any specific issues with fear of the pasture (even after taking a nasty spill and landing on his head) or anything. Any suggestions, ideas? And also, how do I ever feel ok letting him try again? I am serious traumatized by this whole thing, and he is back to being a feisty 3 year old, with no apparent effects (other than his physical injuries). Thanks for any help!
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-11-2009, 04:17 PM
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Is it JUST hotwire? Or is it some other kind of fencing with hotwire? Is it visible?
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-11-2009, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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It's a strand of hot wire above a wire fencing. The kind with the squares that are probably about 4" x 4". I think the square wire fencing is about 4 1/2 feet tall and the hotwire is probably a foot (?) or so above that. And the fence posts are about 6 feet apart, and are some sort of metal painted green. So, no, it's not very visible. I just got him a week ago and his last home had wood panel fencing, which is highly visible. I don't know what to do now. Maybe just turnout in the arena before I ride (after he heals up, obviously)?
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-11-2009, 04:36 PM
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You need to make that fence line (more) visible. Since I gather it isn't your place, you are at a barn? I would go buy some lawn chair webbing, some high visibility tape, or anything that is bright white, or he can definately see. Weave whatever you get in and out of the squares every so often but keep it tight. Some people like to tie it on the hotwire itself, but I wouldn't do that because a silly 3 year old may try to bite it and eat it. Basically you need to think of a temporary way to make the fence look more solid to him.
At home I use Horse Guard Fence, it's like lawn chair webbing, but electrified. I use 3 strands of it and my horses respect it perfectly. I used to have the same kind of fencing as you are describing, hog wire on the bottom with a strand of hot wire at the top. I've had horses run through it and have to deal with doctoring all night and it's just a pain, and it breaks my heart. This Horse Guard stuff, if they get caught in it, might take some hair off but it doesn't cut them and is very forgiving. The worst you have to do it tighten it up every so often.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-11-2009, 09:54 PM
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I agree with Shawneen, you need something bright white and visible. SOME horses will respect the kind of fence you have, but others (like your three year old) plow blindly through it because they think theres absolutely nothing there to stop them.

I use a 1 1/2 inch or so tape band of electric tape, like what Shawneen described but a different brand I think, and my horses respect it very well. It's highly visible and it looks good. Plus, it is quite forgiving if they do happen to challenge it x)

Wait! I'll fix it....
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-11-2009, 10:22 PM
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For anyone who doesn't know of this kind of fencing here is a link:
Ready to Install Kits

Scroll down a bit and you'll see what it looks like set up. I only use 3 strands. For younger horses I'd recommend at least 4. It comes in green, brown, or white (I use white for high visibility) and can be used with basically any kind of post - T-posts included. They also sell these cool little lights to clip on the fence so they can see the boundaries in the dark very well. I haven't gotten any yet, but plan to when I get home.
It can get kind of pricey for larger areas, but for smaller pastures it's not too bad. I even made a round pen out of my extra tape and didn't electrify it and my horses did just fine with it. Like twogeldings uses, there are different kinds - I am not sure if they are cheaper or more expensive, all I have used is this kind.

Let us know how your boy does :)
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-11-2009, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info about the fences. Once he gets healed up and the swelling goes down in his leg, I think we will probably re-try turnout in a small outdoor round pen with the metal fencing that looks like wood fencing - VERY visible. Only about 30x30, but enough to get some outside time. In the meantime, I am trying not to go nuts dealing with a three year old on stall rest. He's going a bit bonkers, no matter how much I hand-walk him.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-12-2009, 01:52 AM
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I definitely agree with making the fence more visible. After you do that, you should be able to just turn him right back out in the same paddock. I believe that he has never had a reason to respect fencing and it suprised and scared him when he got "bit", causing him to panic and bolt. He will likely have a great deal more respect for fences now and won't lean on them at all. He will be fine, don't worry. Although he may have issues with being touched by wire for a while.........then again, he may not. Every horse is different.
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-12-2009, 04:27 PM
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My horses got "bit" about 3 times each by the hotwire and then learned to respect it and even how to eat grass out from under it.

It's scary but he'll figure it out. Since you already have fencing, I'd ask about weaving some caution tape (the yellow stuff) or something similar until your boy understands the fence.

He'll still get zapped once and a while after he figures out that the fence bites back but the reaction will be MUCH more mild.

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

1 Chronicles 28:20

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post #10 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 12:05 AM
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Hot wire

Good Afternoon,

Have you found a way to train your gelding to stay in hotwire? I may be able to assist.

You can reach me at

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