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Help solve the mystery of the frightened horses (Update, Mystery solved Post 20)

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  • Help solve the mystery of the frightened horses (Update, Mystery solved Post 20)

    My property is set up in a U shape with the barn and house inside the U, my driveway the neck of the U and the pastures are in a U shape around the buildings and arena.

    I have 5 horses that are pretty laid back and bomb proof. They go off the property to trail ride, fox hunt and the occasional show so they are used to seeing different stuff.

    I have had problems with a renting neighbor that has a fence line in common with me in a section of the U that I can't see from my home or barn due to a building. The fence line is heavily wooded and connects with another neighbor who runs cattle. The problems with the neighbor stem from my calling animal control to report neglect of some animals on his property. Several of these animals died. AC has been working on the case. Monday, I noticed my horses were afraid of the wooded section and wouldn't go near it. I was tacking one of them up in the wash stall and he was very agitated and wouldn't take his eyes off the woods.

    I thought this was weird and after riding him, I caught my bravest, most bomb proof horse and rode out to investigate. He was terrified of the woods. I put him up and went out on foot to investigate. Didn't see or smell anything unusual. One of my employees happened to talk to my cow neighbor later that day and he said a loose hog was in his neighbors yard the night before. I attributed the freaked out horses on the pig and didn't think too much about it. The neighbor in trouble with AC has a couple of pigs so I figured one got out.

    Well, its Friday now and the horses are still terrified of that area. I can ride 2 of them somewhat nearby, but they are clearly frightened and don't want to go there. I tried to lead one of the other horses (not so brave) towards that area and he lost it and I didn't force the issue.

    If they have to go pass that area to get to another part of the pasture, they do so at a gallop. Any ideas what could cause them to be so frightened? Some of the ideas I have come up with are:
    1) The pig is still loose and they can smell it in the woods.
    2) There is a bear in the area (possible, but pretty rare)
    3) My neighbor has done something that has scared the horses. i.e. slaughter a pig in the back where they saw it.
    4) My husband thought maybe neighbor was shooting at them with a BB gun. I don't think a BB would penetrate the woods though.

    This is really annoying me and I feel sorry for the horses. My 18 year old bomb proof hunt horse hasn't ever been this frightened and I've owned him since he was a three year old. Help!!
    Last edited by bird4416; Aug. 27, 2011, 07:21 PM.
    Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

  • #2
    Holy moly. Your hunt horse is scared? Something really bad must have happened.

    The only thing I can suggest is a wildlife camera.

    If there is a loose hog, it's probably done some rooting - the damage is unmistakable. See anything like that?

    If there is even one loose hog, domestic or feral, I'd not be out there without a firearm - and I don't mean a little .22 pistol. Pigs hang out and sleep a lot during the day, and will often come back out in the evening or at night. Pigs aren't evil monsters.... but they can mess you up or kill you if they decide to. (especially if a sow has babies lying around somewhere) So please please please be careful.
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    -Rudyard Kipling


    • #3
      Originally posted by bird4416 View Post

      ) The pig is still loose and they can smell it in the woods.

      pigs are about the scariest thing a horse can see...I would vote that they saw the pig at <x> and have linked <x> with pig still...

      even if he is long gone

      Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
      I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


      • #4
        I betcha it's the pig... or even the scent of pig that was once there.

        Gnalli's racking horse is testament: He went bugging-eyeball nuts on Day 1 of seeing the pig after they moved to a new barn. Still many months later, even though the pig is long gone, the smell in the area where said pig once resided will make her horse very agitated and he refuses to go near, to the point of rearing.
        <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


        • #5
          Yeah, my vote is the pig, too. Never underestimate a p!ssy neighbor, though. For that reason alone I'd have a couple of game cams set up in the area. That way you could tell if your neighbor is trespassing on your property and trying to scare your horses or if you have a roaming pig.

          My horses are terrified of pigs. My neighbor has two and a big, stinky billy goat that kept getting out and coming over to my place. I've never seen such high headed, bug eyed, freaked out horses in my life. Once I realized that the horses were freaked out but not about to run through the fence, it was almost funny. Almost funny because the stupid pigs and goat kept showing up multiple times because the owner's fence sucked.
          "Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killer." -- theoatmeal.com


          • #6
            Neither one of mine are afraid of the pigs but I have known horses that flipped OUT from the sight of them. Notably the neighbor's mares, high headed and snorting is the exact description.
            Recommend a game camera as well to rule out harassment from the neighbor.
            Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
            Incredible Invisible


            • Original Poster

              My cow owning neighbor has been on the look out for the loose pig and he is well armed. He also has a deer stand in the part of the woods that he owns so maybe he will see it at night.

              I haven't seen the pig and have no idea if its been captured or not. I have not seen any evidence of rooting around and I haven't smelled anything pig like in the area but I guess it could still be out there and rooting where I can't see it.
              Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.


              • #8
                Feral hogs

                Depends on the horse. 5 yrs ago at one barn feral hogs did not bother either Cloudy or Callie. . Even those hogs that ran across the trail in front of them.

                A week ago I moved CLoudy and Hattie to new barn with pot bellied pig in residence. Cloudy was fine, but Hattie freaked and hid behind him. Today she was out in pasture grazing by the pig while Cloudy tried to play with him. Each day she got more accustomed to the pig, especially since he often slept right behind her back door.

                Movement in the woods, whether deer or hogs or cows or hunters can freak horses out until they see just what it is in there. If it's a feral or domestic hog, it may take a few days to get horses used to it. Hattie is a Minnesota mare so she had to realize that the pig is not going to eat her.

                But with what happened with your neighbors about their animals, I'd be careful as to what is going on in the woods. And I'd get those wildlife cameras that JSwan recommended. There might be someone living back in those woods. You never know. We actually have FL panthers up in the woods around here. And wildlife cameras have caught their images.


                • #9
                  I had this problem years ago when a panther was traveling through the area. I was coming back from a trail ride and mine and my wifes horse frooze, they then whirled and raced off. Now both of these horses had been trail ridden for years and we had gone past this point earlier in the day. We tryed to get the horses near the spot but each time we got the same reaction. We had to lead them some distance around this point. We later found out that a panther had been in the area.

                  So my bet would be a bear.


                  • #10
                    My guess is feral pigs have moved in. They are very hard to see since they're usually shy of people, but can be very rank and dangerous during breeding season or with young around. A friend who used to hunt them told me how hard they are to hunt, and how dangerous too.
                    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bird4416 View Post
                      I haven't seen the pig and have no idea if its been captured or not. I have not seen any evidence of rooting around and I haven't smelled anything pig like in the area but I guess it could still be out there and rooting where I can't see it.
                      Do pigs really stink all that much? I've been around some pigs at a "rent by the hour" barn. Those pigs were free-range. I don't remember them smelling and they were always hanging around the people and the horses. Now that I think about it, none of those horses worried about the pigs.

                      Except for those two pigs, the only other ones are my neighbors. Couldn't smell anything except the billy goat when they showed up! UGH! And that smell lingers...
                      "Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killer." -- theoatmeal.com


                      • Original Poster

                        I have a trail cam but have no idea exactly where to place it. My property is fenced off from the woods with woven wire and a top board so if the pig were to come on my property it would either have to root under or jump. Is there any type of food I could use to bait up the pig that it would find irresistible? All I know about pigs is that they taste good.
                        Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.


                        • #13
                          huh, well it sounds like different horses react differently to pigs....

                          My boarding barn neighbors a live stock farm, they have pig (that squeal and make a ruckus!), cows, goats, sheep, turkies.... you get the idea.

                          Any way, non of the horses have ever had any problems with the pigs.

                          I too wonder if it is a big cat or something simular.
                          APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                          • #14
                            If it's a wild boar supposedly they stink a lot. And if we're talking feral pigs then I'm they will be hard to see (they're dark and blend in very well in the trees). ANd if whatever it is finds a lot of food easily in the trees, then it won't come out to be seen.
                            You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                            • #15
                              Feral pigs. (They're not really wild boars unless you happen to have actual feral Russian boar, which isn't impossible.) Doesn't even have to involve the neighbor's, they're EVERYWHERE these days. The Michigan DNR has a shoot-on-sight policy. Could definitely freak a horse out and might be very hard to see in the trees.
                              Author Page
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                              Steampunk Sweethearts


                              • #16
                                Pigs are a truly interesting animal when it comes to spooking horses.

                                I boarded and worked at a place for about 6 months that had a couple of docile pigs penned adjoining the barn. I had some very interesting findings, especially with my 2 horses.

                                *Super bomb-proof and safe 12 y/o WBxTB that I've owned for 7+ years, usually I can't even get a reaction when I seek scary/spooky things - never got over the pigs, would stare and bulge away every time I rode past them even 6 months later.

                                *Super sensitive 7 y/o WB mare that I've owned for 3+ years, a bit spooky, DETESTS most animals (ie. dog walks past and she pins her ears, bears her teeth, and maybe attempts to bite/chase/kick) - slightly interested at first, then decided to make them her FRIENDS and would be found grazing the pig's fence-line or with her nose 4" off the ground nosing the pigs through the fence on a daily basis.


                                • #17
                                  My horse nearly killed himself when a BO moved a sow into the stall next to him. He was never a spooky horse but he never ever got used to that pig. The best he did was to skitter by that stall until thankfully she was gone. He did consent to live in the stall at the FAR END of the barn. And she wasn't THAT smelly! But wild hogs can really spook them. Ask around for someone who hunts them to come and check out your woods with their dogs. They should be able to tell where they are coming in also.
                                  Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                                  Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


                                  • #18
                                    I am going through something similar right now..I am desperately trying to figure it out before my bombproof horse kills himself..I am very upset and anxious about it. The horse is an absolute mess...


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by JanM View Post
                                      If it's a wild boar supposedly they stink a lot. And if we're talking feral pigs then I'm they will be hard to see (they're dark and blend in very well in the trees). ANd if whatever it is finds a lot of food easily in the trees, then it won't come out to be seen.
                                      Ah. I wondered if feral would be more smelly than domestic.

                                      I do know that feral pigs can be VERY dangerous. I was out trail riding years ago on some paper co. land and came across a guy that was standing in the door of his truck. He was looking for pigs with binoculars. He looked petrified. He was at the top of a hill and the land was clear cut so I don't think a pig was going to sneak up on him. Plus, he had a really big rifle with him (and a hand gun of some sort).

                                      I think that guy was a weenie, though. When I rode up behind him he jumped back in his truck and asked me if my horse bit. LOL! Natchez and I had stopped about 10' away and N was standing perfectly calmly.
                                      "Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killer." -- theoatmeal.com


                                      • Original Poster

                                        The mystery terrorist showed herself. I got this pic from my side of the property. The person who owns the other side of the fence is not the owner of the pig. The sheriff and AC were able to locate owner and pig is safely contained now. The horses still think there are scary monsters in the woods but are starting to relax as time goes by.

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                                        Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.