August 29, 2014
When your electric fence is built, monitoring its voltage regularly--I recommend daily--is a basic management practice, just like checking water buckets. Use a digital voltmeter that tells you exactly how many volts of current are on the fence. (How many volts are enough? Four thousand to 5,000--remember, there's no way this jolt of current can hurt your horse, but it needs to be definite enough for him to remember it and want to avoid it.) Your first check of your new fence's voltage gives you a baseline so that future checks can alert you to voltage drops that signal problems. Depending on the strength of your charger, it will emit 6000 to 10,000 volts when nothing is connected to it. After you've hooked it to your fence, check the voltage at the furthest point from the charger. Some drop in voltage--1500 to 2000--is normal. A more than 2000-volt drop means either your charger is underpowered for the fence, vegetation or something else is "loading" the fence (touching it, causing voltage to leak away), there's a short-circuit somewhere in the system--or a combination of these. If the base voltage on your newly built fence is 4000 or better and everything's working fine, watch on subsequent checks for an overall voltage drop of 1500 or more. (It's normal for voltage to be 500-1000 lower in the morning when moisture on the fence, posts, and nearby vegetation can cause temporary current leakage.) Such a significant decrease means it's time to check for problems and correct them before your horse discovers the fence no longer packs a punch; in fact, many horses can sense when the fence is or isn't functioning.