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The question is often asked if horses can see Electric fencing tape better than standard fencing wire and the probable answer based on the human eye is yes, the question whether they can see wire AT ALL is a different one and the answer is generally based on quotes from “experts”. This is much the same as the idea that riders must steer their horses around puddles because “horses can't tell how deep they are, at least that's what my instructor said.” Most likely, the horse will see the wire fence as easily as it will the tape fence.
Good with depth, trouble with depth; colour-blind, not colour-blind; sharp vision, blurry vision – which is it? Answers differ, depending on who is doing the talking. More often than not, the speaker is someone people trust and, therefore, do not question — the well-known clinician, the feared riding instructor, the respected old ranch hand. Unfortunately, some of these authorities base their comments on hearsay, on folklore, on myth. Hearsay is a worry - generally untested, most likely undocumented, it is the cause of much misunderstanding.
Unfortunately there are no scientific studies done on the exact question of “horses cannot see wire” and conjecture suggests that this supposed poor vision is because of the lateral placement of the eyes limiting the binocular vision of horses. This lateral eye placement, meaning their eyes are located on the sides of their heads, gives them a much larger field of view compared to humans; in fact, when holding their heads level, they possess a nearly spherical field of vision. An advantage in detecting predators, many prey animals have this sort of eye placement. But horse eyes are also placed somewhat frontally, affording them binocular overlap ranging from 55 to 65 degrees. The horse's retina contains a narrow horizontal streak across the centre of the eye densely packed with receptor cells called cones. This provides an elongated band of acute vision over much of the lateral range. Heads bouncing up and down, like a bobble-head dog in the rear window of a car, serves no advantage to horses in terms of keenness of vision. Think about it. How can an animal gallop full speed over uneven ground, screech to a halt mere inches from a fence, easily clear high hurdles, step over rocks and logs, or nudge a friend gently, with inadequate depth perception? Put that way, it sounds rather silly.
The logical extension to the query would be “Why use tape at all” when the only advantage it has is the supposed visibility. Electric Fencing Tape has two major issues with the product;
- Plastics biggest enemy are the Ultra Violet rays in sunlight. These react with plastic causing them to lose colour and flexibility. The plastic becomes brittle and so break. The surface area of a tape is five times greater than a rope with the similar number of filaments so a greater amount of UV stabilising compound has to be incorporated to extend the life of the material driving up the cost of it.
- The large surface area causes it to be affected by wind to a greater extent than a rope. The wind causes it to whip around and flap, this in turn applies stress to the metal filaments woven into the tape. This constant bending back and forth will cause them to break so reducing the conductivity of the tape. This is so evident that many manufacturers warn against using the product in wind prone conditions.
- The conducting filamernts in a tape are horizontal (Except in the high quality Turbomax range) and do not come into contact with each other. Should one break it no longer contributes to the effectiveness of the fence as it no longer carries electricity. In a rope these filaments are constantly touching each other so re-connecting a broken filament
- The filaments in a rope are wound together so promoting far greater strength than a tape.
- Tapes are more difficult to manufacture so are more expensive with similar quality product
There is only one thing to be considered when looking at tapes, rope or twine to use on an Electric Fence: - The Conductivity (the ability to carry electricity) of the material. An Elephant or horse will not be fenced in by plain rope or tapes but apply an electric current and they are easily contained.
The quality of the Electric "sting" delivered to the target is directly dependant on the quality of the conducting material. This is the "barb" that will keep your target animal where you want him. The conductivity of the material is quoted as Ohms per metre (this is a measure of the inline resistance). The higher this figure is - the less of the current that is delivered to that important sting. The lower the Ohms/metre is, the more electricity it will carry and deliver an effective sting.
For example:- An energiser capable of energising 9 km with a 0.05 Ohms/m. conductor will be reduced to just 1.3 km if you use a conductor of over 10 Ohms/m. Conversely, when an energiser is used to charge 1.3 km of fence using a good conductor it will use far less energy than using a poor conductor;- your batteries will last far longer.