Two horses from a farm where I board my convalescing youngster got loose from a pasture and went galavanting down one of the busiest, windiest, most dangerous roads in the area. No accidents by sheer luck alone, I'm certain. A couple months ago, I found my neighbor's horses in my front yard.
Now, the boarding farm's fencing is absolutely atrocious. Old and not maintained at all. I've seen entire sections (wood plank mostly, with some no-climb) literally fall over in puffs of wind. So I understand how the horses got out. My neighbor's horses' jail break was not a surprise either, apparently, as we had a huge storm go through and as I was returning the horses, my neighbor said something about "I knew I should've put them in (the other fenced in part that she has)". So apparently a known fencing issue too.
But, the horses getting loose is my biggest fear for my own horse property. I updated all of the poor wire fencing that the sellers left behind to 3-board Ramm fencing, with the exception of the adequate wire fencing parts that line forest (trees essentially make a "wall" immediately on the other side of fence). Hotwire along the Ramm fencing that the horses have access to. I put a front perimeter fence in, so if they make it through the inner hotwire separating fields from house, they still have another layer to get through before making it to the road. Front perimeter gates are always closed, unless I am actively going through them (mowing up by the road, etc).
So, for those of you who have had loose horses, how did it happen? How can I better prevent it? I feel pretty good, but it's still one of my top worries every time I leave them out in the fields. And when I bring my young, 17h TB jumper home, I'm going to be super nervous about leaving him out unattended.
ETA: this may be better in the "around the farm" board, but I wanted to get those who board, too, and their experiences.
We had some one crash through the fence, drive through the field, open the gate into the barn yard and then open the gate to get out of the barn yard and just leave. Luckily (I guess you can see this as being lucky?) for us there are horses across the street but back a long driveway so every time they get out (only twice I think in the 15 years we've been there) they just cross our quiet rural road and go flirt with the other horses.
I think you've done about all you can I've had horses get out, but mainly because a gate was left open. I had one lean over the old wire fence (on one side of our property with a tree line) and just step over it. In Oregon, I had thin hot tape that wasn't hot, and it broke once, but the horses hung out on the other 85 acres we had, so no problem. I don't live (nor have I ever with horses) on a dangerous road, although there is a dangerous road near where I am now. I do have fencing around the perimeter of the property, so if the horses get out and the front gate is closed, they aren't going anywhere.
The worst that ever happened was a horse getting loose in the mountains in Oregon because a fence was left open (diff. property from above). He was gone for two days, but people had seen him. On the third day he was standing outside the front gate with head down -- and bloody cuts all over him He had gotten into someone's barbed wire. At least he came home when he needed me and was fine in the end.
At the barn I board at, the neighbouring farmer has a large herd of goats, which he starves. They busted through the fencing onto my BO's property. The horses were terrified, and bolted straight through the fencing, destroying posts and rails as they went. BO and I were sitting in the kitchen, enjoying a nice glass of wine, when the herd of horses galloped past and up the laneway, herd of goats moving like a wave right behind them. It's funny now, but it wasn't so funny when it happened.
Another time, at my place, I had an area, that in hindsight, was not a good idea. Our old pony got cornered in there by one of the bossier horses, and, in her panic, she destroyed the metal gate in her attempt to get away. No one was home, and I received the panicked call from neighbours while I was with friends at a restaurant. All I can say is I have great neighbours, and I've since reconstructed that one area so no one can get cornered in it.
My horses are home alone all day, and once I go to bed, they're alone all night too. My fencing is post and rail with a strand of electric for an extra precaution. If a horse wants to get out, due to fear or what have you, they will, and they will not care if they get hurt in the process.
Your set up with fencing at the front perimeter sounds ideal. There is nothing more terrifying than having your horses loose and off property. When we sell this place and move to the new farm, I will design it as such that there is never a time where my horse is not in an enclosed area. Right now, I have to lead some of the horses across an unfenced open area, my front yard, to get to the barn, and I really don't like the set up, but it is what it is and cannot be fenced.
"My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”
― Anna Sewell
My horse is an escape artist but he has no desire to jump or ram it (he would get hurt if he did that as it is made out of big logs supported by chains to the fence posts). He escaped by picking the closure snap on the gate. Thankfully he was found just roaming around the farm. There is a somewhat busy county road right next to the farm so we are grateful that he stayed put.
That has been fixed by doubling up the way it is secured and putting the snap opening mechanism against the fence post. Everyone on the farm knows to be careful in closing up paddocks and stalls where he is in.
Not in a while but a few years ago my weanling got out 3 times by jumping the gate. The 5' gate, once in deep snow. Luckily he stayed close to be with his buddies and didn't get into any trouble. Sometimes there's precious little you can do. Besides keep a very large umbrella insurance policy which all horse owners should do anyway!
So far our only off property loose horse has been when my TB recovered from stepping on a shoe clip. For three months he didn't willingly break a slow walk because he was afraid of hurting himself. I had been sick with some mystery illness the doctor couldn't identify at the same time, but I was finally feeling better and so was he, so I longed him. Once he realized he felt better he started leaping into the air in excitement, then turned and took off. There was no way I was hanging on to that much weight and our property wasn't fully fenced yet. He took a nice gallop around the neighborhood, riling up all the neighbors' horses, too, came around the back side of the property, stopped to chat with the girls, and walked over to me like "why didn't you come with me?!"
My filly is a gate-opener, so I worry that she'll let everyone out at some point. We have extra latches and an extra layer of fencing, but fingers crossed it all stays safe...
My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.
Originally Posted by katarine
If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed
A few years ago a witnessed a horse gallop straight at and straight THROUGH a woven "no Climb" wire fence with a white hot tape an top. There was not so much as a pause. He blew through it and ran down a paved curvy country road and vanished from sight. This horse had spent five years in a stall with no turn out at all and had been an orphan as well. He had recently started being turned out, and this was his first day with another horse, in a bigger space. He was being chased, had no social skills, and did not know what a fence was. It was horrifying.
He was found after several hours of searching, several miles away in some woods. He needed IV fluids, he was perilously close to road founder, and was fairly banged up.
I know of another situation where a trainer had five horses get loose on a busy road. She had been told not to turn the horses out in the front field, but did anyway. Several horses were killed, one person was killed, and she was sued. She was ruined and no longer trains.
Our place is on a quiet road, but has a perimeter fence and a front gate that stays closed.
A freak winter storm with straight line winds took out 3 to 4 sections of my four board fence. Snapped the posts right off at the ground. The horses went gallivanting in the neighbor's yard. Thankfully they missed the pool. And thankfully my neighbor has 4 board too and all the gates were closed.
We lost part of the roof too.
As far as gates go, we have a barn driveway gate that's always closed, so I really don't worry about an escape through a gate.
"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant
One suggestion is to think about all your gate latches and know how strong they are. Lots of us use ordinary trigger snaps, but a horse can break those so now I check the label for breaking strength and usually buy special stainless steel snaps and linking hardware.
If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket
My friends horse got herself and her next door neighbour loose at a horse show (that had a night watchman). They basically broke the board that both of their stalls latched to. Both horses roamed around the barn getting into everyone's things before heading out onto the main street in town (only 1/2 a block from getting on a 4 lane highway), visiting a open gas station, (who's late shift worker called the cops). The cops then used 4 police cars to herd the horses quietly into a field adjoining the show grounds where they 'cornered' them while they searched the campground for my friends. Both horses had bright coloured slinkies on which helped the one cop that wasn't scared of horses catch one of them, both were very quiet horses who gave up the minute the cops cornered them, and decided that eating grass was better than roaming the roads.
The night watchman was asleep in his car, and the chains/gates that were to be across all open door ways, were all left open. Both horses were fine, although tired out the next day. The horse that got them loose in the first place now tries to escape from EVERYTHING and needs to have all her gates latched, then tied twice when she gets turned out or else she ends up on the lawn!
My horse is an escape artist. He never got out of the field/pasture but will go to great lengths to escape a stall. For a long time we boarded where he had a stall door he could look over, and he mastered the latch. After finding him out a few times, we started putting a clip on the end of the latch to keep it from working through - he figured that out too. He got out a few more times so we got an even bigger clip and attached it to a chain attached to a screw eye in the middle of the latch (the screw eye also turned to prevent the latch from being pulled up). That worked, but he was starting to figure that out too (at that point, moved him to field board, end of problem).
It was never a HUGE problem - he was too spooky to go gallavanting so mostly just walked up and down the barn aisle visiting the other horses (and stealing any treats left out), or wandered outside and ate grass behind the barn. It freaked me out, because the driveway wasn't gated so he could get out on the road (where people habitually drove too fast for the curves/visibility), but going down the driveway apparently never crossed his mind, dude just wanted to eat.
"smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"
A few years ago my horse and his pasture mate were found gallivanting through town. The pasture gate was open. We've never figured out who opened it although I had some suspicions. There was a man who used to let his dog run through the fields with the horses. I once asked him to keep his dog leashed until he got onto the trails and he got very angry with me. Funnily enough, he was on hand when this happened and "helped" round the horses up.
Neither horse was hurt, nor was anyone else.
We were very lucky and there was a police officer on duty who owns horses. He recognized my horse and got them back home.
One horse did show signs of tieing up and I had the vet check them both for any signs of founder but in the end both were okay.
Our barn is at the end of a long driveway but many people walk onto the trail system that way and go right past our paddocks.
I had a pony get out once. Luckily I was out in the arena and he got out right beside the arena lol. Little turkey pushed down on the hog wire (now is not hog wire anymore, but was what was here when we bought the place) and bent it enough that he then pushed it down with his leg and walked over it ripping it out of the post on one side. That was a freak thing though and in 7 years the only issue I've ever had. They have plenty to eat, feed, round bales, and grass so I don't think mine have any want to get out. Actually one time I had them in the yard eating some grass one evening and my friend came over and left the gate open in the driveway. We found out a couple hours later but my guys never left the property lol. They were over by the drive eating but never had the thought of leaving.
Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole
I live in a very rural area so my fear of breakouts is not too great- I have a good perimeter fence, and single strand electric interior and partition fencing (not by design, but by what the budget allows as we develop the farm) So if a horse breaks "out" they are usually breaking *in*...it's usually jusy a question if I have the driveway gate closed.
Mostly my problem comes from deer running through and taking out a stretch of the electric fence wire- a problem that would not exist with proper substantial fencing.
The scariest/worst breakout I had was a neighbor's stallion who broke out of their farm and then into my farm to get my pony mare. He herded her back to his farm and in the ordeal she wound up getting a pretty bad cut on her leg. It healed without blemish and thankfully she didn't get pregnant either. So that is a warning along the lines of what you hear about radio collar dog fencing... it may keep your animals in... but it may not keep other animals out.
The other one I'll mention is a just a brain fart mistake. I have one pasture with two gate locations. When I bring all the horses in, I leave the gate near the barn open because I'll just close it when I turn them back out again. Well, this time I don't remember what I was doing- but I turned them out at the other gate and walked back to the house without passing the open barn gate. So they just walked back out again. I think that a person could develop a safety protocol like, "Always shut the gate even if there are no horses in the field" or "Always use this gate for turning out/in" My husband is a safety team leader at a steel mill and they do a lot of research into how accidents happen and how to avoid them- and diverging from standard procedure is a big problem.
Don't forget about humans. Years ago, when we had just the one pony, a one-eyed Shetland stud, for the kids that was pasture boarded with a QH gelding. All was fine until one morning we came out, and the gate was wide open, there were truck tire tracks in the grass, and both horse and pony were gone.
Police reported that they had stayed together, and showed up in the next town down the road. We always thought it had to have been little Frisky who saved the day. The QH was calm and you could walk up to him. Frisky was hard to catch, and would be happy to cause a ruckus, and we thought the QH must have taken his cue from Frisky and hit the road with him.
Yep. Darn raccoon climbed up the extension cord and he was so fat he unplugged the fencer (that's the best explanation we could figure out). Youngster went under three strands of the tape (had to have been on his knees), walked around a 10 acre pasture and found the one gate that was opened. Then he walked a mile to the neighbor's barn, who put him in there. My inexperienced-with-horses friend was horsesitting and the poor dear panicked and had to lead a 16.1h green 3 year old through the fields in her dress clothes to get him home.
We've since moved the fencer so that the raccoon can climb, but not unplug the fence. I've seen him, and he's a tubbo.
I had a mini and three rail fencing which off course he just wiggled through. He was loose one day when I went to go for a hack, and I figured he would follow, and since I was just going back through the hay fields and he needed the exercise I left him loose. He stared at me as I rode off, then put himself back in the field and ran around screaming for his buddy. I guess free range was only fun when he thought he was being bad.
I've had escapes because of deer and moose - they just blow through a fence and tear everything to ratshit. Have also had wind blow a well fastened gate open and thankfully, the only horse here at that time was Wallkicker and he never leaves a certain area, and mostly comes to the house and looks for me to put him back. He also got out this winter when another wind shook the door open, and again, he never went anywhere and from the tracks had been going in and out that door for a while. If this snow ever goes, I have moose damage to fix before I turn out again and there will be snow damage to fix as well.
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