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littleredridinghood 07-31-2012 08:06 AM

Help! Vandalism? Just escape artist horses?
Ok so we are having a bit of an issue that has been occurring for the last three weeks or so, and now it is just getting quite old if you ask me. Also, sorry if this post seems to ramble a bit. I am quite flustered this morning.

I board ciro at a nice quiet private barn. There are only 5 horses, and a pony on the property. A few nice cats and one very well mannered, innocent barn dog. All who have always gotten along, or at least the last 7 months that I have boarded there. Up until the last 3 weeks or so we have never had any issues with the horses getting out of their stalls at night.

The first incident, the barn owner went out in the morning (he lives on the property) to do his morning routine of feeding etc. when he went out three horses (mine, the other TB, and the pony) who all share a paddock that opens up to three stalls, were out in the barn isle, back yard and just running free. Nothing was missing, messed with or anything. So we just decided that the stall hadn't been latched when I left the night before, which is why the horses got out. The door to the tack room was also wide open. The wind or a cat could easily push that open also. A bit fishy but we decided to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to silly mistakes that could easily have been avoided. Ok so pay closer attention when closing up at night (I do the nightly feeding/lock up of the barn Monday-Friday).

About 5 days later. Barn owner wakes up. Horses again, are out in the pasture. This time, the small sapling tree had been DRIVEN over by what appears to be a car.However, nothing in the barn is messed with. At this point we call the sheriff because we know someone had obviously been messing around at the barn.

Fast forward a week. Horses are out again. At this point in time, We are beyond frustrated. So during the day we stalled the three that had been mysteriously getting out to see if one of the horses were letting the others out. I get to the barn in the evening. Nothing. All the horses are happily resting in their stalls, none of the latches are even touched. So we opened the stalls back up in the back so the 3 horses can mingle in the paddock together again, all while still having access to their stalls for shelter. It had always been one particular stall that was being left open, so we decided to latch it and then also tie it shut thinking that if the horses are getting bored and playing with the latch, they wouldn't be able to get out. So that seems to work fairly well. We decided that we would do another trial and not tie the stalls to see if they would get out during the day since it is only at night that this has been happening at night, which seems a little odd considering there is generally no one at the barn during the day to even stop the horses from messing with anything.

So everything has been going great since then. None of the horses have gotten out, the tack room has stayed locked, nothing was messed with.....until this morning. The barn owner goes out this morning to do his routine. Last night the barn was locked up by 7:30 or 8 when a fellow boarder finished up riding her horse and I finished up with feeding, mucking, etc. and at that time all doors were locked including the stalls that lead to the paddock and the tack room. So this morning barn owner goes out and finds that yet again the horses are out. Again. This time however, someone (or a horse, which I'm finding highly unlikely) had turned on the water spicket and flooded the barn isle, which then spilled under the door and flooded our tack room and bathroom to the point where there is a good amount of standing water in our tack room. We called the sheriff again, but we are just so frustrated with the whole situation. What do we do? Do we camp out every night until the horses prove they are letting themselves out or someone shows up? What is something we could do to tie the stalls shut with?

Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated greatly. Also, we don't have sliding stall doors, they are on a hinge if that makes a difference.

Cowgirls Boots 07-31-2012 08:12 AM

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I would be locking the barn up personally.
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poppy1356 07-31-2012 08:14 AM

When you say everything is locked up, do you mean actually locked? Like someone had to cut a lock off or break a door or something to get in? Or do you just mean everything was shut? If it was actually locked then there is no way a horse can unlock anything.

I would get cameras. Game cameras don't need electricity to run and can turn on only when motion is detected.

Dreamcatcher Arabians 07-31-2012 08:15 AM

A driveway alarm will notify the barn owner if anyone comes in. Security cameras focused on the trouble spots, and hidden out of sight will record whoever comes and goes from the barn. Or he can hook up the cams and watch them in his house if he prefers, but I'd want video in case there is someone sneaking onto the property.

I've had Houdini horses that were AMAZING in their ability to let themselves and their freinds out whenever they got bored. Also, mostly at night though one used to like to meet me in the driveway after work every day. I used to blame the neighborhood kids until the one mare let everyone out early on Christmas morning, right during the time every kid in town was busy unwrapping their presents and I realized it HAD to be a horse doing it. I've never had one turn on water but knowing some horses, it wouldn't really surprise me that much.

littleredridinghood 07-31-2012 08:22 AM

We leave the main door open for air circulation since it is so hot here in Missouri right now. But this has nevered happened before with horses letting themselves out, could this be a new thing that they have picked up? They are between 12 and 14 yrs old and are really lazy laid back horses for the most part. Cameras might have to be purchased. Thank god no tack, grooming supplies or anything else has been taken or messed with. This is all so stressful

Maple 07-31-2012 08:26 AM

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I would install a camera, either looking out onto the drive or else into the particular trouble area.

Also, I agree there are houdini horses.. I used to lease a blind peruvian paso, who at a whim could get out of, and into ANY paddock he felt necessary.

Scoutrider 07-31-2012 08:48 AM

It wouldn't completely shock me if the horses were fiddling around with the latches and such, but it definitely does sound fishy, especially the bit about the sapling being run over.

I would at least install a padlock on the tack/feed room door if possible. Locking the entire barn or the stalls solid could be a hazard if there were ever a crisis and you needed to evacuate the barn quickly, but at least locking the tack area would ensure that your gear and equipment aren't damaged or stolen, and that the horses can't get into anything dangerous if they do get loose. Also, if someone manages to get through that, you know it wasn't a horse, the wind, or a cat. :wink: I like to pop a spring-loaded clip or carabiner through my stall latches -- those are quick to remove with one hand in an emergency, and I have yet to have horsey lips figure them out.

Definitely put up some cameras -- game and trail cameras are getting more affordable by the week, and run on batteries with removable memory cards. Most are motion-sensitive for still shots, although some of the more expensive ones will take video as well. You may be able to find better pricing, but there's a pretty broad selection in the link below. If you have any outdoorsy friends/neighbors who are into trail cams and game watching, you may be able to borrow from them for a few weeks and at least find out if you have a team of horsey Houdinis or a two-legged vandalism problem.

Trail Cameras - Game Cameras - Deer Cameras : Cabela's

I'd hang one at the entrance to your barn to capture anyone coming or going, and one facing the latches that keep getting undone to capture how it's happening. Make sure that they're positioned in such a way that, if it is vandals, finding them and getting them down to dispose of the evidence makes enough noise and trouble to attract attention.

There are also wireless driveway alarms -- position a motion sensor by the barn door, and keep the speaker in the house to let you know if someone/thing is coming or going (I don't think you said if there's a residence on barn property or not... won't work over an extreme distance). The main problem with those IME is false alarms... I can't count how many times I've had barn cats and raccoons trip ours... :P

Good luck! Keeping my fingers crossed that it's only some very clever animals at work! :-|

wetrain17 07-31-2012 08:52 AM

I would be installing cameras right away if I thought someone was coming on the property at night. I would also lock the tack room. Is there a perimeter fence around the property, or a way to install a gate at the end of the driveway?

lucky2008 07-31-2012 09:29 AM

Subbing , I would camp out so I could bust them!
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littleredridinghood 07-31-2012 09:46 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions. I think we are going to look into trail cams tonight and until we get one just keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't happen again.

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