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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 6, 2007
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    452

    Default What is chasing the horses?

    Ok, I need some guesses here guys! SOMETHING seems to be chasing the horses. Several of them have come in with 3-4 inch scratches on the hindquarters, just a single long scratch. There have also been several that look like claw marks on the lower flank area on a few of them. The horses range in age from 2 - 30+. We haven't SEEN anything, but they're awful spooky in the mornings lately. Four have had mystery lameness in the last month and a half or so. I didn't put 2 and 2 together right away because one tends to get cast in the run in and another one is old, but the other two sore ones are young and healthy . Area is NE Illinois, about 10 miles from the WI border. Would loose dogs make those scratches? It just doesn't really add up.



  2. #2
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    Jul. 22, 2007
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    South of Georgia, North of Miami
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    Default

    Have you seen any tracks? Do you have bushes/shrubs/scrub where you can see something has been hiding/lieing there? Strange feces? Your going to have to play detective.

    I would also call the local fish and game and see if they have had reports.

    I don't think it would be dogs. I think they are more apt to bite around the legs. Just a guess. Maybe someone has more experience.

    Good luck. Sounds scary.



  3. #3
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    Jul. 6, 2007
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    All the pastures are open, only one has a tree in it. And actually the one with the tree in it is the only one that contains horses with no marks. The other ones with the marks are in various different pastures. The scratches aren't like 'cal the vet' deep ones, just a single long scratch across the hindquarters. Its really, really weird. And then the ones that do look like claw marks are lower flank area, 2 or 3 short thin marks. Its odd =O



  4. #4
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    TX
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    Default

    Don't know what is going on here either, but last night, about 3:30, cattle were sleeping around the yard and so were the horses in their pasture and they all started running scared and left.
    Could not see anything, maybe wild pigs, mountain lion.
    Animals were fine this morning, if horses spooky, but the cattle knocked a few things off in the yard, which I am sure didn't help and is what I heard crashing.

    20 year old is a little bit off behind, no marks anywhere or anything swollen, is being watched, all fine otherwise.

    I hope it was a one night stand and nothing will happen tonight.

    Don't know what you have there...



  5. #5
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    Mar. 28, 2002
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    East of Dog River
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    Rather than seeing anything, are you hearing anything? Looking for tracks is fine and well, but they can be very hard to find and you have to know what to look. Is there an area the horses tend to avoid? If so, start there, but be CAREFUL.

    FWIW it sounds like a cat of some kind and cats don't often leave much for tracks. All the cats that were here for a few years, I saw ONE track because he stepped in soft, freshly worked, wet dirt - saying he because of the size of the track and the depth and male cougars are the ones that move, not females. Your scratches sound, however, less like a cougar and more like a juvenile bobcat that hasn't learned his prey range yet.
    Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 29, 2000
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    Pretty much horse heaven
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    Default

    You can get a wildlife camera (google it) that hangs on fence or tree or similar and has a motion detector sensor that will trigger it to record pics. Camera is infrared so no flash. IIRC they run a couple hundred bucks.
    Hindsight bad, foresight good.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 6, 2007
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    452

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sk_pacer View Post
    Rather than seeing anything, are you hearing anything? Looking for tracks is fine and well, but they can be very hard to find and you have to know what to look. Is there an area the horses tend to avoid? If so, start there, but be CAREFUL.

    FWIW it sounds like a cat of some kind and cats don't often leave much for tracks. All the cats that were here for a few years, I saw ONE track because he stepped in soft, freshly worked, wet dirt - saying he because of the size of the track and the depth and male cougars are the ones that move, not females. Your scratches sound, however, less like a cougar and more like a juvenile bobcat that hasn't learned his prey range yet.
    The only cougar sightings we get here are from drunk fishermen after one too many . Though they DID shoot one in downtown Chicago a few years back. But I doubt a cougar would manage to go unnoticed out here! I was wondering about the bobcat thing myself, as I've seen one here or there before. Do you think one would really chase a horse? I don't know much about them.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
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    Are you sure it's not the horses themselves? Maybe a long shot, but I once saw my now-gone Morgan mare rake her teeth over my older mare's haunch and leave not a bite but a single 7 inch long 1/2 inch wide swipe mark. In that case not breaking the skin, but the hair took ages to grow back.

    Or could they be running due to coyotes or dogs, and brushing up against the fence and scratching themselves that way?

    I can't imagine a bobcat bothering a horse - unless it was a mini or a small foal maybe.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 21, 2006
    Location
    South Carolina
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    I agree. I have bobcats who live nearby. Never have I had one anywhere close to the horses. But even so - they're smaller than my littlest border collie. I can't imagine they could do much even if they wanted to.

    Same goes for coyote. And of course, they don't have claws.

    I have seen a horse with an open rake mark like the OP describes that I know for sure was done by his pasturemate.



  10. #10
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    Jul. 6, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by twofatponies View Post
    Are you sure it's not the horses themselves? Maybe a long shot, but I once saw my now-gone Morgan mare rake her teeth over my older mare's haunch and leave not a bite but a single 7 inch long 1/2 inch wide swipe mark. In that case not breaking the skin, but the hair took ages to grow back.

    Or could they be running due to coyotes or dogs, and brushing up against the fence and scratching themselves that way?

    I can't imagine a bobcat bothering a horse - unless it was a mini or a small foal maybe.
    I figured the first scratches were someone rubbing on a fence. But the same scratches are on different horses. In 4 separate pastures. Different age ranges and places on the totem pole. Four of the horses have come in lame or stiff in the mornings when I brought them out to feed. I can't imagine one bothering a horse either, but unless the barn cat is sleeping on the horses.... My gelding in particular, had a ton of random nicks all over him. This horse never hurts himself, aside from when he whacked his head on the feed bin a year ago and cut his eye. He's very wimpy and not inclined to do anything athletic, like running around like a nut, nor would he run into the fence, as he's terrified of the hotwire and won't go within 3' of of it.

    eta: I should add its only really been in the last like maybe 2 weeks that the cuts started appearing. And one was on the head asshole in the pasture, the other horses stay away from him, can't imagine one biting him, much less making three equal length scratch marks on the underside of his barrel?



  11. #11
    Join Date
    May. 12, 2000
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    NE TN, USA
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    If you want to go the camera route, go to www.cabelas.com and search for "scouting camera".

    FWIW, I have this model.

    It works beautifully for deer, and the price is currently discounted. The visible flash doesn't seem to bother the deer, but if you think your problem may be humans, go for the infrared models, as they'll steal the camera otherwise. A set of six "D" cells will power it for about six weeks. Use top-quality alkaline batteries. It'll go through a set of cheap ones in a few days.
    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
    John Adams



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 6, 2003
    Location
    Northern Illinois
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    I love my wildlife camera! It sure is interesting to see what's prowling around at night by the house. Where on the WI/IL border are you? East or west? I would think "big" wildlife would be a lot less likely along the lake, but I could buy it closer to the Mississippi River.



  13. #13
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    Jul. 6, 2007
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    452

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    Quote Originally Posted by OneonOne View Post
    I love my wildlife camera! It sure is interesting to see what's prowling around at night by the house. Where on the WI/IL border are you? East or west? I would think "big" wildlife would be a lot less likely along the lake, but I could buy it closer to the Mississippi River.
    Eastish. Like an hour and a half west of chicago.



  14. #14
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    Jun. 24, 2005
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    Alabama
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    If it was a big cat wouldn't the scratches be on the back or the underside of the neck? I thought big predators went for the throat or the hamstrings on the back legs. I hate to think it's some human going after them, but I guess anything is possible. If they are being chased is there brush or thorn bushes in the pasture that they're running through to escape?
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  15. #15
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    Jul. 6, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanM View Post
    If it was a big cat wouldn't the scratches be on the back or the underside of the neck? I thought big predators went for the throat or the hamstrings on the back legs. I hate to think it's some human going after them, but I guess anything is possible. If they are being chased is there brush or thorn bushes in the pasture that they're running through to escape?
    I wouldn't think it would be a big cat, its all bean fields here, not much hiding! Some horses do have marks near the throat/head but they're tiny and not really punctures, more like scratches and nicks? And they're in four different pastures, so its not one beating the hell out of the others? Which is why its so weird.. The pastures are completely cleared and mowed regularly with no tall weeds or hiding areas. Another reason its so weird. No trees, no loose fencing, nothing. Its very well maintained facility .



  16. #16
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    Mar. 6, 2003
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    Northern Illinois
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    It sounds like you aren't too far away from me, if my calculations are correct! I have no other advice for you, other than to hope the wounds remain not-serious and you can figure it out. I guess I would hope they are just beating the crap out of each other!



  17. #17
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    Jun. 24, 2005
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    Alabama
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    THis may sound crazy, but is it possible that one of them is jumping the fence (producing the barrel scratches, maybe?), and beating the stuffing out of the others, and then jumping back to their field? Either that or could a human be getting in the field and doing this with a whip or flail of some kind? I hate to think it would be a person, but there are real sickos out there.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr. 26, 2010
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    WV
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    Horseflies. No kidding, they go insane and run into everything.



  19. #19
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    Jul. 6, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanM View Post
    THis may sound crazy, but is it possible that one of them is jumping the fence (producing the barrel scratches, maybe?), and beating the stuffing out of the others, and then jumping back to their field? Either that or could a human be getting in the field and doing this with a whip or flail of some kind? I hate to think it would be a person, but there are real sickos out there.
    You know, I thought of that. But the only one dumb enough to try would be the mini and hes' well, mini .



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr. 23, 2005
    Location
    Chicago
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    I've seen our horses running laps at night, just due to bugs. I don't know if it's the flies or mosquitoes, but in each paddock, the herd of horses will walk/trot laps round and round and round in the evening when the bugs are bad. If there is anything they could rub against as they do their laps, that could leave scratches, and could explain stiffness in horses not fit for the activity.

    Also, where I am in IL the ground has gotten pretty hard/dry (until the last few days anyway), and sometimes the horses will get a mark from rolling on hard ground if there is a rock or root or something they rub against as they are rolling. My one gelding (turned out pretty much 24/7) is getting hock sores from the hard ground outside. Could that be it?

    Hope you get it figured out!
    Gallant Gesture "Liam" 1995 chestnut ottb gelding
    Mr. Painter "Remy" 2006 chestnut ottb gelding
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