Troubleshooting The Electric Fence

My mom owns miniature horses and when one of them is prancing through the bean field, it usually means an issue with the electric fence. Finding the problem with the fence can be quite an exercise, but there are specific faults to look for.

Jennifer Smith is the marketing manager for Pennsylvania-based She says a quick visual check will indicate if there’s a broken wire, an electric wire contacting a grounded wire, or a wire and post that were knocked down by an animal. If you can’t find the problem, the best thing to have in your tool box is a fence tester.

"They will hold it up against the wire and it will determine if there’s a short in it, if it’s hot or cold, if it’s on. It does help if the material is, of course, on," she says. "You’ll just start from one end to the next and you will eventually find the short."

If a metal wire is broken, there are several twisting methods for putting it back together. Poly wire can be knotted, or you can just replace the entire section of bad wire.

It’s also possible that a broken connector clip is the culprit. They’re inexpensive to replace.

Check your energizer, but if the voltage reading is good, check the ground rods.

"There are a variety of ground rods and ground plates that can be used to test the stability of the fence," says Smith. "Your ground rod is probably 90% of the electric fence, and so it is very important to make sure that that is stable and getting enough charge to the fence."