By Laura Crum
The other morning I got a phone call just as I walked in the house after feeding my horses. It was my best friend, Sue. “My dad’s horse got out last night and they can’t find him. I’m on my way over there now. Can you help?”
Sue’s dad lives across the road from the pasture where I keep my old, retired and/or rescued horses, so she had reason to suppose I might be useful. I headed out and embarked on the effort to find Doc.
The first info I got from Sue was not encouraging. Doc had apparently pushed his way through some not very good wire fencing that was confining him in a place where he could graze.
“But your dad’s whole property is fenced,” I said. “How could he get out?”
Unfortunately, that night the front gate had been left open because they had had company. And there was no doubt that Doc had walked out the gate…and onto the very busy road outside. There was fresh horse poop on the road. But after two hours of searching, calling 911, and talking to neighbors, they had not found Doc.
Sue and her parents were beside themselves, as was inevitable. All the issues were huge in everybody’s mind. The horse, a dark sorrel, had been loose for who knows how long, perhaps most of the night, possibly on the road. He could have been hit, he could have caused a major accident. He could be causing one right now. And they couldn’t find him.
On the other hand, the fact that the cops knew of no such accident and driving the road did not reveal the horse was, in a way, a good sign. Doc hadn’t been hit on the street or we would have found him.
I searched the pasture where we keep our old horses. All of our horses were there, but Doc wasn’t. Sue and her parents took off to search some farmland nearby, in the direction in which they’d found the horse poop.
I walked in the opposite direction, around the outside of the small pasture where I keep my horse, Gunner. As I reached the far fenceline, I noticed a sorrel horse in a corral behind the next door house. There hadn’t been a horse there for awhile—the corral had been put up by a former tenant. And then the neighbor walked out of his house and said, “Are you looking for him?”
Sure enough, it was Doc. He had come walking down the man’s driveway late the night before and this good Samaritan, hearing the horse in his yard, had gotten up and put the animal in the corral and gone back to bed.
The best moment, for me, was calling Sue on her cell phone, hearing her discouraged voice, and telling her, “I found him, and he’s OK. No harm done.”
A happy ending for sure. But also a wake up call. Keep those front gates closed, folks. Its really worth it. I used to be pretty casual about keeping my front gate closed, and then, about ten years ago, my friend and boarder left a corral gate open. The front gate was also open. But in my case the horse roamed around my property all night grazing, judging by his poops, and was there by my driveway in the morning. But I became very strict about shutting the front gate after that.
The reason Doc walked out the gate and my escapee, Dunny, didn’t, is probably that I have several horses here. Dunny didn’t want to leave the herd. Doc lives alone in an area where there are many horse properties. He no doubt ambled out looking for companions.
Anyway, it’s a point worth remembering for all of us. Keep the front gate closed, and if you don’t have a two gate system, its wise to think about building one, especially if you live on a busy road.
So that was my adventure for the day. All’s well that ends well, but I sure don’t want to go through that worry again any time soon.
How about you? Any escape stories? Any tips?
Happy Easter to all! Cheers--Laura