When working with animals that are contained using hot wire fencing, there is always that lingering question: "How can I be sure it is working?"
LEAVE IT ON
Horses will quickly learn when the fence is and is not turned on, and many have no issues with rubbing up against it when it is off. The problem, of course, is when it is turned back on. Horses who learn how to run through hotwire fencing when it is off are more likely to run through it when it is live, potentially injuring themselves and wrecking your fence rendering it useless.
SO HOW TO BE SURE THAT IT IS ON?
One way is to touch it. This is not recommended. Not only will it hurt but other than knowing that there is some current running through the system, it really won't tell you much else. If you decide to do this, touch the wire with the back of your hand as an electric current can cause your muscles to spasm causing you to grab onto the fence and make it so you cannot let go.
TOUCH IT WITH GRASS
Another option is to touch it with a stick or a blade of grass. This is also not recommended. This will dampen the sensation, but again, doesn't tell you much about how well the system is working. However, this is a much safer method than touching it with any part of your body.
A much better option would be a voltmeter. These relatively inexpensive tools are simple to use, stick one probe into the ground and touch the other to the fence. This will not only tell you IF there is a current running through the system, but it will also tell you how strong the current is. This tool is also handy to make sure that your fence is not too long causing the current to become weak in spots.
ELECTRIC FENCE TESTER
There are also several options of commercially available electric fence testers. These can help you find shorts in your fence, check the voltage, and some even have timers to make sure that your fence is working on time. These can cost less than $10 and can cost over $100. It all depends on the features you want. Examples of these can be found at here.
You should check your electric fencing at least once a month to make sure that everything is running properly and that if there is any decrease in voltage that you find the leak. By doing this, you are ensuring that your horses are being kept in safe, responsible fencing that will protect them from themselves and other animals.
So while there are many ways to check your electric fencing, some methods are significantly better than others. And remember, if any of your friends suggests that you pee on your electric fence to check it out, they aren't really a friend.