Actually, unfortunately they don't jump cattle guard gates. They try to walk on them, getting their hoof wedged inside the pipes, usually resulting in tragedy.
I used to pony my mare and one day she got away from me and jumped the neighbors cattle guard ONTO his property. I know some can get a foot caught. I was just mentioning there are other possibilities there too.
If you are going to the UK, take the dog with you. I took my Bernese Mountain Dog when we moved to London. You will make friends via your dog, as there probably isn't a more animal-friendly place. Plus the dog can go everywhere with you -- department stores, the train, sitting outside at restaurants etc.
As for the horses, I echo what everyone has said: find a good barn and pay board. Many people retire horses and don't visit them all the time; I have a facebook page where I post pictures of the horses; Paradigm Farms has their blog with tons of pictures etc. Find a place that will send you periodic pictures (in addition to having friends check on them every once in a while).
Enjoy your time in the UK, it is a fantastic country!
NO-NO-NO!!! on the cattle guard. One of the most horrific injuries I witnessed was a horse stuck in a cattle guard with two broken legs. They had to euthanize him on the spot and then drag him out of the cattle guard with a tractor. The owner's 8 year old daughter was extremely traumatized by the event.
Otherwise, it sounds as though you have gotten some good ideas.
One of my friends has a barn and she used to have quite a few out of state boarders. She was always emailing new pictures and videos of their foals, and each one had a webpage she kept up. Maybe you could find a barn that did something like that?
ETA - even if you ended up boarding somewhere that didn't offer this, maybe you could find a friend who could pop out once a month to take some pictures and send them to you.
I have out of state boarders. I send them pictures and would not mind at all if someone came and checked up on them. Maybe you can look further afield since you won't have to commute to the barn? Where are you in Texas?
Not sure where you are, but I'm in similar shoes as far as moving overseas. Not my first rodeo, so my recommendation is to find a good boarding facility even if it means moving the horses sooner rather than later to test the waters or moving them several states away for the right situation.
FWIW, the cattle guard thing is just a big NO for me. I grew up around cattle guards and while the cattle mostly respect them and many horses will stay away too, it's just too much risk IMHO.
My mare will be 23 this year and really doesn't need to be "retired" but I want her to be at a place where I trust the judgment of the people running the show. I've talked to/looked at close to 30 barns in 2 mos and have decided that I am going to move her back home to a barn I trust when we move. I know I'm lucky to have that option.
Other options involved long time friends in various states.
For the most part, when being away, I think the thing that is most important to me (beyond knowing the basics are covered) is that there's someone at the helm with judgment I can trust and will NOTICE things.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
The place with the cattle guard was an "option" but never a feasible one for me. Like the others on here have expressed, cattle guards terrify me. Apart from that, he would be on his own and he's such a sociable little lovebug that wouldn't be a good situation for him. I've had a horse get free, out an open gate and try to walk a cattle guard before, so know what it's like. I'm meeting with the woman who has the 2 small kids when I get back from the trip I am going on tomorrow. She's a wonderful person, wonderful facility, does horse fostering and has 3 horses of her own. That would be my best option. Failing that, I may ask my farrier if he could board him. (He does boarding and training so not looking for a freebie there!)
I'll speak with the vet/farrier combo likely this week to see if boarding my old gelding there is an option. My vet would continue to do the work on him as needed (as the owner-vet is small animal and my vet actually does her horses). If that one doesn't work out then undoubtedly I will need to look into boarding.
That last part is so important...someone that you trust and that will notice when something is awry.
We are planning to spend a semester in London next year and already have our regular horse sitter lined up. She is incredibly trustworthy and I plan to pay her my regular daily rate. It is cheaper than boarding 4 horses out, and I trust her to notice any problems. She will also care for my cats. Expensive, however it was nonnegotiable when deciding whether we should go.
In your situation I would take the dog and board the horses.
One important thing is to make sure they have authorization and support if vet decisions need to be made. I leave authorization, but also provide backup numbers for my parents so if a horse needs put down or expensive treatment she can call them, so she isn't making the decision alone. This offers her peace of mind and I know I can trust my parents to make a good call on horse vet decisions. We haven't had to use it yet, but we both feel better knowing it is there.