It’s never a good feeling when you head out to feed the horses and notice the gate is open.
In the five years that I’ve owned my own horse property, this was actually the first time this had happened. But ever since acquiring Joshua this fall, a 5-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred, escapes have been a lot more frequent than in the past.
As per my usual, I had planned out a precisely timed morning. Wake up at 6 a.m. Check. Walk dogs as soon as the sun comes up. Check. Feed horses and head to work in time to show the new intern around...this was where my plan took a detour.
As I stared at the open gate, I vainly hoped they might still be in the seven-acre pasture somewhere. Maybe in the run-in shed? Behind the one tiny hill? No luck.
I made a frantic call to the horse sitter. My husband and I had returned from a week-long vacation in Maine the night before, and since it was pitch black when I arrived home, I hadn’t actually seen my horses in some time. She assured me they’d been there at 4 p.m. the previous day, and she dashed any hopes I might have cherished that she’d randomly decided to move them somewhere else.
So I grabbed their halters and leadropes, stuck the smallest of the dogs in the house, and jumped in my truck to go find them.
Fortunately, I live in the middle of what used to be a 500-acre cow farm, and although my horses are both young Thoroughbreds, it would be quite a hike to leave the property completely.
Since, as I noted above, this is not their first escape, I knew where to look. They were in their usual spot, two fields over, gazing at the neighbors’ horses longingly.
Besides being covered in burrs, they appeared no worse for wear, so I led the two miscreants home, closed the gate and fed them breakfast. I made a quick round of the fence line, which was in perfect shape, and then I jumped in the shower and arrived at work almost an hour late. Fortunately, the former intern took care of the new one.
I’m still not sure why the gate was open in the first place, but I have my suspicions. My horse sitter assured me she’d left it closed. It had been abnormally windy, so I blamed the wind at first, but when I came home that evening and found the top part of the gate down again, I deduced that my electric fence wasn’t working, and Joshua had figured out how to unhook the gate.
Whenever my horses escape, I daydream of putting in four-board fencing to replace my el cheapo t-post and wire. I curse and stamp my feet a little and wish that the money tree would start growing in my back yard. But with a new barn under construction, and a house renovation project still to finish, new fencing probably isn’t going to be on the agenda anytime soon.
Good thing I know where to look!