Q&A: Help! My horse keeps escaping

  • Q: I own a three-year-old Welsh Section D gelding who jumps out of his field, to get to other horses.He goes straight over normal electric fencing and when we raised the height he went straight through it, despite getting zapped, and brought the whole fence down.

    He respected the fence for a while after this but then I moved to a friend’s yard where the paddocks are sectioned with electric fencing. Back to his old tricks, he jumped into an empty paddock, so we took him back home. Then he jumped over some barbed wire and cut his back legs.

    I don’t want to sell my gelding or stable him all the time, but renting a field on my own with 6ft high fencing is not an option. What can you suggest?

    Islay Auty FBHS replies: You don’t mention whether your gelding jumps out when he is enclosed by a sturdy post and rail fence or thick hedge. While a few horses will still try and escape over these types of fencing, in my experience they are in a very small minority. Most horses respect solid, well-made fences or impenetrable hedges.

    Electric fencing is used successfully for sub-dividing larger paddocks to restrict grazing or to segregate horses. When a horse is introduced to an electric fence for the first time it should be switched on. Encourage the horse to investigate the fence – he will usually sniff it and may touch it lightly with his nose. The sharp shock that he experiences should make him jump back and maybe snort and try to run away. Some brave horses will attempt a second encounter, but when the shock is repeated they learn to leave it alone.

    Unfortunately, a small percentage of horses and ponies decide that the only way to deal with this shocking monster is to jump over it and occasionally they will barge through, as your own horse has. They quickly find that the shock is very short lived and they learn is that a swift barge through the fence renders it harmless.

    I’m afraid it appears your youngster has not learned to respect electric fencing. Unfortunately, once a horse has decided that electric fences can be easily dealt with, there’s actually very little you can do except change the type of fencing.

    I would advise you to keep your horse in as sturdy an enclosure as possible, even if this means investing in better fencing for your field.

    There is a chance that if you put an electric fence in front of a good solid post and rail fence or hedge, he may learn to respect the electric fence because of the more solid outside parameter fence. There is no guarantee, however,that when you use the electric fence again in isolation he will not return to his old habits.

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