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Have your horses gotten loose? How?

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  • #21
    My place is pretty secure now but there are still "acts of god" (i.e. trees crashing through fencing in storm!) and human error to worry about. I know by now that I can be an airhead, so I have a rule for myself - check every gate. Every time I touch any gate, before I leave the barn, I check every gate is closed & latched - I only have 5 acres and half a dozen gates so this might not work with most farms but for me that rule has saved me some embarrassing "escapes". Alas, last winter I agreed to let my elderly horsey neighbor meet the equine dentist for my horses, so I could stay at work - came home to find a mare gone, the gate left open. So not only have to worry about yourself, but any other humans that happen to be on your place! Fortunately the mare just went across the street to flirt with the neighbor's horses. But it's always a horrible feeling, an escape - so much could go so wrong!


    • #22
      No escapes here out of the Eb paddocks, however we use tape for day grazing and don't always clip it to the Eb so not hot, pony has figured it out and takes the old guy for a gallivant down the hill to the neighbors - why I don't know, their yard has dead cars and junk in it and the other neighbor has emerald green mowed grass that the cows and the other neighbor horses love. That has happened two times and now we no longer leave them out behind tape.

      Back in the day we had a flawed fencing design. We put up three strands of non-barbed wire, pretty heavy gauge, and when we put up the shelter we cut the fence and attached it to the side of the shelter. Bad idea, we could never get the leverage we needed to put tension on the wire and the fasteners needed to be at least twice as big and bolted in there, the fence brads just pulled out even if you used two or three and the horses figured out that they could lean on the fence there and then start oozing through, one leg through, other leg through, head down, lift and lean and pretty soon out they went. My horse never went far, either to the house for food or next door for company, but we had a boarder horse that just went traveling down to the highway for whatever reason.

      There's really not much you can do about bad drivers, we had one of those not too long after the horses were gone for good. Some gal went right through the open gate, flew through the air and darn near landed on our roof. I was SO glad the horses were gone, it could have been horrible.

      My personal perfect fencing situation would have a nice perimeter four board or diamond V with a top board and then a couple of permanent subdivision fences and the remainder in moveable Eb. Say solid perimeter with a gate and a solid fence around the house and primary exit with a gate to the barn and paddock areas. Pastures up by the road for day or supervised use.

      Oh, yes, my mare had a talented upper lip and managed to let herself out of the gate more than once, we used spring clips for everything after that and still do. We have those round pen panels with the drop in pin to close the gates and the pony has come really close to getting it open, we got lucky and the pin dropped outside the gate receiver so it just banged against the pin, thank god pony didn't think about pulling the gate inwards or we'd have been in trouble!
      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
      Incredible Invisible


      • #23
        Mine got loose last week. There is a door from their shelter that goes into the barn into a stall. They got the door open, went through the barn, through the door to the front yard area. Luckily they went to my neighbors and they put two of them in a pasture and the other two ended up shutting themselves in their stalls when they went in and turned around lol.

        It's a big fear of mine too...unfortunately these things happen.
        Boss Mare Eventing Blog


        • #24
          Twice in 9 years.
          First time was 3 days after I installed $60 gate latches "guaranteed to be 100% horse proof!" and my American Paint In The Arse figured it out and let him and my mare out and they went galloping past my front window. So I added a chain and clip to each gate too.

          And then they got out a couple months ago. Mr Blue was "helping" me with barn chores. And left a gate open. That time they ran right by the house but I wasn't looking out of the windows...thankfully they ran right to my neighbors to say hi to her horses. She called me, I ran over and grabbed both. Because both were standing completely still like this: staring at her mini-donks. First time they've seen them, LOL!

          And thankfully both times the horses (different horses each time) ran towards the house and not the road. My house and my neighbor's house are set way back from the road. And a bonus is that the barn and paddock areas are about 30' below the level of the street, with a very steep incline that's very heavily wooded. It's a natural barrier and was definitely a consideration when we bought the property. Also keeps cars from crashing into the fencing, they'd have to take down trees to hit the fence.

          And I've had trees and/or giant branches fall onto my fencing, but it's the Ramm type and it doesn't break. It just holds the tree up until I can cut it into pieces and haul it off. It sags a little from the weight, but I just tension it back up. That fencing with serious thick posts pounded in seems to be pretty much indestructible. Centaur fence is also known to be pretty tough and awesome too.
          You jump in the saddle,
          Hold onto the bridle!
          Jump in the line!


          • #25
            My two got loose on Christmas morning a couple of years ago when we were out of town. One of them pulled a gate up off its hinges (sigh--tb geldings!). They ran into my neighbors' yard, who saw them as they were opening Christmas presents! They rounded them up and used some twine to tie the gates so they couldn't be lifted. They did quite a number on the neighbors' lawn!


            • #26
              Human error and hurricane Sandy. The Sandy one was because the storm caused us to loose 14 sections of fence due to downed trees and no electric for the fencing. I swear though they just wanted to see the neighbors horses. They were freaked by the storm and I was not around as I had been out of state for a wedding. The second time happened just after the first when I was changing pastures with the horses and the "follower" skipped the gate. As the other horse was taking a drink I wobbled as fast as I could to get the gate but was beat by the horse who stopped drinking to join in on the fun.. They had so much fun the first time they did it again. Lucily I live in a rural area with the BEST horseperson neighbor ever


              • #27
                Mine hasn't (except when being led, usually having something to do with trailer loading, and once pulling back and getting herself away from the trailer she was tied to, because her trailer-mate got loose and they are BFFs in a b*tchy mare sort of way).

                I've seen one horse spooked by people getting up on a barn roof to remove excess snow go through a board gate. And one I didn't see, a big old WB mare who jumped the 6 foot board fence when she got scared by something (almost; she left some foreleg skin behind...) And a naughty Haffie who'd bust through the fence just for the heck of it occasionally.

                Oh, and then there was the time dear old Trumpie decided he didn't like living alone, got loose, and galloped off to his old barn a couple of miles away. In the photo below, he's wearing vet wrap on his legs thanks to that one. Luckily all he had was some cuts, and no permanent damage.
                You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                • #28
                  The PowersThatBe Protect Fools

                  I've had escapees when boarding and on my own farm.

                  Boarding, DH's TWH ended up the only resident with a padlock on his Dutch door after freeing himself, then the three young stallions owned by the resident trainer.
                  Ended well, but could have been bad as no perimeter fencing leading back into 40ac of woods and the only main gate open to the road - a short gallop from HWY421.
                  Same horse at previous barn had figured out how to pop the top boards on the vinyl fencing so he could step over to freedom.

                  At my farm I've only had 2 escapes. Both my fault.

                  #1 - unloading stuff from my car to go into the barn, I left the gate unlatched.
                  Horses were at the faaaarawaaaay end of the large pasture but magically teleported themselves to the gate, with my TWH making good his escape in what seemed like a nanosecond.
                  I slammed the gate shut on horse #2 and went after the escapee.
                  I knew better than to chase, so I slooooowly walked after him as he made a diagonal beeline across my property to the road and across that to visit the neighbors' ponies.
                  TG for that distraction, as a mile up that side road was a busy road with heavy traffic.
                  I captured him using my jacket as a lead around his neck and (again) TG he was amenable to that idea.
                  My BP may have returned to normal some hours later.

                  #2 - Coming home from a clinic I took both horses to, unloaded & got them settled, unloaded the trailer & parked it and went into the house to collapse.
                  Imagine my surpise the next morning when I went to feed and there they were, standing just outside the pasture, gate wide open.
                  My TB made a feint as if he might run for it, but decided that going in for breakfast was a better idea.
                  His pal - the 17h TWH agreed.

                  My Guardian angel wept.

                  My favorite Escape story is from a friend who had 6 horses at the time.
                  Of those, 2 were her DH's team of Belgians.
                  He took the team out for a drive one morning and "someone" forgot to latch the gate.
                  She looked out her window to see 4 horses leaving the property.
                  She was just getting into her truck to pursue when she heard thundering hooves and looked up to see her herd returning, accompanied by DH & his team whom they had met on the road on their way back.
                  4 horses ran right back into their pasture followed by a bewildered team and red-faced DH.
                  Last edited by 2DogsFarm; Apr. 12, 2013, 12:11 PM.
                  *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                  Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                  Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                  Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                  • #29
                    I had a 16.2 TB gelding that was quirky. I was cleaning his stall with the sliding door that hinges at the top. Those tend to swing if pushed hard. I had the door closed but not latched behind me. Somehow without me hearing, this horse got on his belly and slithered under the door. I saw his butt disappearing and then the door slamming back behind him. He took off across a lightly traveled dirt road and went for a 15 min gallop in the fields. When he was done, he came back and went in his stall to continue eating.

                    The scary one was at a barn I boarded a couple of horses. The barn was located on a busy two lane road that people regularly traveled 75mph on. It was at the top of a steep hill on both sides, so it had horrible blind spots when cars pull out. The barn owner would close and padlock the gates to allow the herd to graze the front area since their turnouts were mainly dirt. Some a$$hat used bolt cutters to cut the lock and let the herd of 15+ horses out. They took off galloping down this paved road. Somehow no one got hit and some people were able to turn them into a field a couple of miles down the road. A guy with a jeep picked me up as I was running down the road. We went out in the field as the herd was still galloping and were able to turn them back with the jeep and a couple of other vehicles that joined to help. People on the road brought all the traffic to a crawl and the herd finally dropped to a trot and headed back. I remember clearly there was a semi inching down the road as the herd was headed toward him. They split and went around the truck. Finally, we got them all back in and called the vet out. There was lots of road rash and swollen legs, but in the end everything turned out ok. They never did find out who cut the lock, although they had their suspicions as there were animal activists in the area.


                    • #30
                      I'm had a few incidents.

                      1- Crappy woven wire fence, sagging low. Percheron mare (who never tests a fence) must have accidentally stepped over the fence. She was mortified that she was loose and couldn't wait to get back with her friends.

                      2- Escape artist type ASB mare- lifted gate off hinges (twice!) and took her friends with her. Fortunately the gate opened into an area we had temporarily fenced with a couple of strands of hot wire.

                      3- Snap broke on gate of paddock with 3 3 year olds. They had a grand old time running around the hay field until I caught the ringleader. Now the chain on the gate is also hooked on the gate thingie as well as snapped.

                      4- On the old farm, neighbors spotted mini got loose and came to visit. My little mare, about 3 at the time, was terrified of this "thing" and blew through/fell over her electrobraid fence. Little damage to either her or the fence, and she ended up in another fenced area.

                      5- Just recently. I had two old mares behind a couple of strands of tape, not hot because the old girls will stay fenced behind anything. Neighbor's mare, in heat at night decides to come visiting and runs through tape. Dogs bark like idiots, stallions start carrying on - I grab a flashlight and see a horse that isn't mine. I didn't even know the neighbor's had a horse! I put my mares behind real fence for the night and put the intruder in the round pen. Then about a month later it happened again- though this time my girls were still behind real fence and the other mare just disturbed my sleep- again I stuck her in the round pen for the night.

                      I've had a few get loose while being led, but that's different I guess. My favorite incident was when the chain on the stallion's lead shank broke- I have horses in pastures everywhere- and he's not exactly a pussycat. I was terrified that he'd strike at a mare through the fence and get hung up, or worse- go through the frozen pond. He did neither, and I was able to catch him without too much trouble.


                      • #31
                        Mine have all escaped due to their dumb humans leaving a gate unsecured. Several times, we've called the police as they are dark bay and it was dark or close to it. Once, one officer actually showed up.

                        The last time, DH was the culprit and they were gone all night. Here, they always head south. We thought they might be behind a home on the street of
                        manufactured houses but going by the home at 3 am to get them might not be
                        prudent for us humans. Yep, that's where they were.....homeowner and DH walked them home the next morning. Bless those folks hearts! Once we found
                        them in neighbor's pasture with their mare. We have no idea how they got there
                        as her puny wire fence was intact. We had trouble spotting them due to high grass and their dark colors. Had to cut her fence to get them out and then fix it.
                        It was very late at night.

                        My mom was visiting one time, broad daylight, doorbell rings, stranger says your
                        horses are down the road....they're the one's with the fly masks, right? Right!
                        Into the Gater with bucket of crunchies and halters. Got one corralled and the other two followed us home. An interesting parade, for sure!


                        • #32
                          My little Morgan cross managed to liberate himself from a field at the boarding barn. There was a gateway used for tractors that was closed with three rails that slipped in. It faced the road and the barn was on the other side. Horse, probably by accident one day, moved the middle bar out. Then he crawled through and paraded around proudly. BO got a new, longer middle rail. He repeated the performance with removing the top rail and jumping out! So the BO secured the rails. By now he was determined, and when he couldnt move them, he jumped the gate! I put up another rail on top and offset and that finally stopped him...


                          • #33
                            Yes, 3 of them from my dumb mistake of leaving the gate open. Live 3/4 of a mile back a dirt lane, which just so happens to come out on the main road directly across from where 2 of the 3 used to be boarded.

                            The double blizzards several years ago I left the main gate open as the horses were in the sacrifice area, DH had plowed out a lane from the main gate to the gate of the sacrifice, the P-O-N-Y slipped past me at the gate and the other two followed before I knew it, up the lane they went, directly to the boarding barn, I was able to corral them in the field between fences when they went to visit, and grabbed the two bigger ones and walking backwards in 2 feet of snow got them in an empty field, thankfully P-O-N-Y followed and no one put up a fuss, called DD on the phone to bring lead lines and we walked them back across the road, luckily DH had also plowed the lane on his way out to work so the walk didn't have to be through 2 feet of snow. I am now very OCD about gates and doors being closed
                            "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

                            "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"


                            • #34
                              Yep, frequently. Mostly in safe areas and luckily he doesn't "lose his head" but still thinks when he bolts so he doesn't run into anything unsafe (knock on wood). He's always bolted since before I got him and while he's gotten better, he'll do it with people he doesn't know or when he's scared.

                              The worst time was when were loading up for a horse show early in the morning. The 18 horse trailer couldn't get through the driveway so it'd be parked on the busy road outside the stable yard. This was the most dangerous place for my horse to bolt (the rest of the time there was a fence always closed between the road and the farm). My trainer and I would lead him out with me on one side and a chain under his lip and she'd be on the other with a second lead rope and chain over his nose. Normally, he was fine and walked on the trailer great, especially after we found out he likes going on first.

                              So we walked him out with his buddy in front (to keep my guy calm) and the other horses behind him. Got right up to the trailer when one of the horses spooked and bolted back to the barn. My horse bolted in reflex but instead of going to the barn, he was ON THE ROAD. There was a dip in the road coming to the barn so for a few seconds he was out of sight but in the direct line of anyone driving that way. Thank god he veered off to the right, off the road, and over to the neighbour's farm before going over the crest of the road.

                              That was the worst one. Besides that, if he bolts he just gallops down to the end of the fields, visits, and then walks back.


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks all for the replies! It really does make me feel better to see so many random, completely unpreventable (or not completely preventable) escapees. And that those issues happen infrequently. Like, years apart. I was starting to wonder if I'd have to add "dramatic jail break" to my list of annual panic attacks.

                                Though you all have given me ideas about some infrequently used gates that I should put additional latches on. For extra extra security.

                                I have good neighbors, two "sets" are retired couples whose favorite activity is to sit and watch everything out their front doors. So they could at least call me if my TB decides to grand prix jump the 5' fence and ruin their lawns.

                                For those of you who mentioned people coming onto your property for whatever reason... has anyone considered padlocking gates? A barn I briefly boarded at padlocked the front perimeter gate, which, at the time, I thought was a ridiculous hazard in the event of a fire (e.g. the firemen wouldn't be able to get through the gate). But as I now have a trailer and other equipment (not to mention not-inexpensive horses) on the premises, and I am gone 12 hours a day for work, I feel a little vulnerable leaving it all out there for the taking. There has been a rash of robberies nearby, in the broad daylight.


                                • #36
                                  My horses have gotten loose twice in 40 years, not a bad average. Both times my fault.

                                  First time was when we lived at the end of a dirt road. Came home to find the neighbors chasing my little arab mare. She was having a blast. Head and tail straight up in the air, happily flying down the road I was driving up. Stopped the car and got out, "what the hell are you doing?" I asked the horse, not the neighbors. She made one more happy circle and then came to me with a "that was fun!" expression. Neighbors said they had been chasing her for a while. There was a weak section of the fence we had been planning on getting to, she got to it first. We fixed the fence and all was well.

                                  Second time was again a weak section of the fence and I didn't know hot wire wasn't working. Knock on my door by a neighbor, 'Your horses are getting out." The big goofy gelding was walking casually down the road while the other 3 were trying to figure out how to follow. I grabbed a lunge whip and chased the 3 to the secure pasture and by the time I had them safe the big goofy gelding came running back down the road whinnying for all he was worth. Caught him easily and put him back. Again, fixed the fence and that was the only escape.

                                  I don't know if I would padlock a gate unless it was out of sight of the house and not the only way in or out. If something DID happen I would want my horses to be removed from danger. Oh, that reminds me of a 3rd time. I was boarding and the youngster was anxious because his best pal had been taken in for breakfast. He was running back and forth and when he got to the corner he was so disorganized he JUMPED the fence. Broke the top board but landed safely on the other side. I remember this instance because there was a gate at the back of his pasture, and if had been locked it would have been a lot harder to retreive him. As it was I just called his name at the gate and he came running.


                                  • #37
                                    Best one was the damn pony I trick trained. She kicked her water trough over, stood on top of it and then leapfrogged over the fence. She could have headed to the road which would have been tragic but ever one to show off her mad skillz she capered about the barn opening stalls and dumping everyone's stuff and just generally being the PITA pony she was born to be.
                                    There was the Pal mare who had a padlock on her gate who was notorious for not only escaping but letting everyone out in the process.
                                    Most heart stopping was when I witnessed the fancy TB clear the front fence and the ditch in front bust a helluva turn to the right to avoid the truck headed his direction and beat tail down the middle of a very busy road. Only thing that saved him was his street sense and that he actually knew to wait for the traffic lights. I jumped on Pal mare bareback and with a halter/leadrope combo and caught him on the underpass of the freeway. Had to lead him back to the barn and keep Pal mare from eating him alive. Should have taken the high dollar cow horse but she wouldn't come when called.
                                    Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
                                    Originally Posted by alicen:
                                    What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.


                                    • #38
                                      Shortly after moving to my own horse property my phone rang at 6 a.m. and my non-horsey next door neighbor told me my two Paint geldings were loose, and in their back yard. I threw on my clothes and ran to the barn to get halters and a bucket of grain....only to find my horses all present and accounted for. I went to the street and sure enough, there was one Paint and one solid bay horse on the neighbor's front lawn.

                                      I shook the bucket and they were walking up to me when I heard a whistle and saw a man running around the corner dressed in only boxer shorts and cowboy boots. Both horses spun around and then happily trotted after the guy -- I assumed he was their owner!

                                      I did find one of my horses in my other neighbor's back yard one 5th of July..the fireworks the night before had spooked him and he'd crashed through the vinyl rail fence and was happily grazing with their horses. I called the fence guy that day to order new fencing installed all around their turnout areas.


                                      • #39
                                        One of our QH mares escaped her turn-out yesterday. She's a regular Houdini and nibbled at her gate latch til it came undone, made a quiet slip out her gate and headed straight for the front lawn to eat. She was quite pleased with her self and only kicked up her heels for a gallop about when someone went out to catch her. After a nice 10 minutes around the top of the driveway she went straight to her stall. Thankfully, we are waaaaaaaaay off the road and none of them will willingly leave the rest of the herd by themselves. The BO showed her son again how to latch the chain so MissThing can't undo it. I recognized her hoof prints when I drove up yesterday, by then she was happily back in her turn-out mulling over her little adventure.


                                        • #40
                                          We've had a few over the years

                                          One from a lovely private barn we were boading at. We came home from a few days away to find a series of messages on the answerphone from a variety of friends letting us know it would be OK and that they would keep their eye out for the boys. WHAT???

                                          Nothing from the Barn Owner so we called to see what was going on. Too bad if it was 11:00. He said all was well, the horses had been out for a bit, but no one was the worse for it and he'd explain in the AM.

                                          Next morning we found he had turned his horse and our two out into a newly fenced field. He had thought the deep thicket on one side of the field would be sufficient and hadn't fully fenced the perimeter. He heard the horses racing about early in the morning and then quiet. Came out to find them all gone. Immediately called the police around 8:00 and several neighboring barns (hence the calls from friends) and set out looking for them.

                                          At around 8 and a bit, another call came in to the police reporting 3 horses showing up for breakfast at a barn across a ravine from our farm. Took the police all day to put together 3 missing horses with 3 found horses in the same town

                                          Anyway, aside from his having to walk everyone back from the other farm around on the roads (no real trails through the ravine), there was no harm done.

                                          More recently and with different horses, we've found we have to be VERY careful about closing the sliding door with latch on our Percheron/Quarter cross Cooper. He loves playing with the door and if it moves at all, he somehow gets it open. In the summer he and Alex are turned out with access to their stalls. One night, one of the aisle doors wasn't fully closed and Cooper opened it up. They had a fine time eating hay and dumping over the tub of treats and snarfing them up and then wandered out onto the lawn between the barn and the house. The BO has an alarm that goes off in the house when you leave the barn by that door. So she looks out and sees a grey shape in he dark and realizes Cooper and Alex are out. She and her husband come down from the house and the grey (Alex) sees them coming, realizes the jig is up and goes back through the stall into the field and tries to pretend he never left. Cooper, on the other hand, picked up the treat tub and went to the BO and DH to show them it was empty and needed refilling.

                                          You do the best you can, maintain your fences and most of the time it's not a problem. I don't think anybody is spending their whole day staring at the horses making sure they don't get out.