My 5 year old pony, Charlie, is starting to pluck the top wire on fences. It is becoming more and more of a habit. He use to just do it when he was waiting for his feed, but now he is doing it to gain attention and even when being groomed. I'm worried about his teeth. How can I stop him from doing this? Rachel Wastney, via email
It’s good that you care so much for your pony. It’s always good to be observant around horses. Small changes in their behaviour can indicate bigger problems. In Charlie’s case, I don’t think it’s a big problem. Many horses pull at the fence when they anticipate their feed arriving. Others get excited and whinny and run up and down. Charlie may get excited and pluck the wire whenever he sees you because he thinks you might bring some feed.
You can’t control what your horse does when he’s running free. Leave Charlie in as big a paddock as you can. The bigger the paddock, the less chance he has of becoming bored. If he has plenty of good grass, Charlie won’t bother about spending his time hanging around plucking the fence and demanding feed.
People often electrify fences to stop their horses chewing posts and wires and to prevent horses playing over the fence. I don’t like electric fences with horses. The shock that the fences give is very severe and some horses become very worried whenever they’re near a fence.
I’ve seen a young colt kick out when he backed into an electric fence. His hind legs became tangled in the wire and the more he struggled and kicked, the more shocks he received. The colt was badly injured and was always very frightened after this experience.
Another time, I was opening a gate on a young horse. When I reached down and touched the gate, I got an almighty shock from the electric fence that was going through the gate. The horse also received the shock. He leaped about six foot in the air and was always extremely frightened of gates after this experience.
Tie Charlie to a post or a rail away from the wire fence when you groom him. Don’t give him the chance to pluck the wire. Whenever you’re with Charlie, teach him to concentrate on you. Don’t allow him to look around or pluck the fence while you’re grooming him. Pull his head around to you and make him think about you. Don’t let him be distracted and chew things when you work with him.