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A concerned customer who had moved his 31-year-old gelding to a new boarding facility six days ago contacted me for an opinion. The farm owner put him in outdoor pen with electric fence tape, which he's never seen before. He hit it, freaked out, ran to other side of the pen, hit the fence again and freaked out. He was so scared that he was soaking wet with sweat. The owner shut off the electricity and calmed the horse down. Naturally he is concerned about the future for his horse.
My experience tells me that 99.9% of horses settle down and are not bothered by the electric fence after getting the first shock and respect it. What bothers me is that he blundered into the tape on two occasions. He should have seen it quite comfortably but at 31 he is getting on. I suggested getting a veterinarian to perform a thorough ophthalmic exam.
If you know for sure your horse has never in his life been in an electric fence before, and his vision is okay, then initially there is a learning phase for him and it should resolve in a short time. One of the tenets of making sure horses maintain respect for an electric fence is to keep it on all the time. A fence is only effective if the fear of the fence is greater than the desire of the animal to go the other side. The lure of whatever is on the other side can encourage horses to test the fence and go through when the fence is off. Getting through the fence can be a strong positive re-enforcement, so it’s no surprise then they would continue to test the fence, making it more likely they'll go through it, either on purpose or by accident.