Terrifying moment - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 80 Old 08-04-2016, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
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Terrifying moment

My horses got out. Worst than that, they got out because of a stupid mistake on my part. Please don't lecture me, I feel horrible enough. But rest assured, everyone is fine and the horse are safely back in the barn.

I'm just sharing this to help everyone be aware that it can happen to the best of us. Early this morning, I promised my daughter I would take pictures of her and Harley hanging out. We've commissioned an artist to do a painting of the two of them and I wanted early morning light. I'm not a morning person, so I did my best to chug some coffee and head out. After a few pictures in the paddock, we opened the gate and headed out onto our large property. Took a few more pictures and half an hour later, made our way back to the barn, lead Harley into his stall, then out to the paddock, threw out some hay and went back to the house for breakfast. The paddock gate, which is situated at the far end of the paddock, stayed open.

A couple of hours later, my niece, who was visiting with us, came in to ask if the horses were supposed to be out of their pasture in the yard. I ran out and saw them both in our garden. I told my daughter to get carrots and I got a halter and lead rope. Harley happily took the carrot from my daughter, but when I tried to throw a rope over his neck, he bolted. Ran to the front of the house, where he seemed to realize he was free, kicked up his heels and went for a run down the road. Kodak just followed. Luckily we live on a country where there is very little traffic - and people are used to livestock or wildlife on the road. My neighbor's horses have gotten out a couple of times and I've had to stop for cows in the road more than once.

They ran past the first two houses with me jogging behind them yelling for Harley. He just thought it was a fun game. I would have thought he'd stop and run in a field to eat, but no, he stayed right on the road. The more I ran behind him, the further he went. As they got further and further away, he hesitated on the crest of a hill. He kept looking back at me, but I think it was my daughter, with the muck bucket full of hay, that got his attention most. He thankfully turned around, Kodak on his trail. Ran to us, then right by us, as a lone car, stopped by a waving neighbor, pulled to the shoulder and waited. They ran all the way back to our property and turned in.

I carefully came up besides Harley, who was grazing right outside his pasture, told my daughter to put down the hay and opened the pasture gate. He looks forward to going into the pasture every evening so I knew that would trigger something in him. There was no way I was going to get a halter on him. He hesitated, but I pushed him in, and Kodak wasn't far behind. I let out the biggest sigh of relief of my horsey life as I closed that gate.

Lesson learned: always, always, always, double check all gates.

Questioning: should I leave a halter on them? If I had, the whole running down the road would have been avoided since I could have grabbed Harley before he headed for the road. A breakaway halter maybe? The pasture is literally wide open grass with one tree that has been entirely limbed. I always felt no halter was safer, but what if a logging truck had been coming down the road?

Plan: instilling a reliable recall. I did this with my horse when I was a teenager. Three sharp whistles meant come and I will give you a treat. My voice was enough to make Harley hesitate, and eventually decide to head for home, but a good recall might have brought him back sooner.

Again, while I do appreciate suggestions, please trust that I feel horrible enough without getting negative feedback. I can't believe I made such a stupid mistake.
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post #2 of 80 Old 08-04-2016, 10:42 PM
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It happens, once I had dropped Roys lead rope to get my wallet out to pay the chiro (he usually stands around eating)and he ran back to his paddock although he only got around the corner when he realised I wasn't on the other end of the rope so he stopped lol

No you shouldn't leave a halter on a horse in a paddock it's a recipe for disaster as they could get it stuck on something and get seriously injured..
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post #3 of 80 Old 08-04-2016, 10:47 PM
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A break away halter sounds like a good idea, just in case. I personally do not put anything on my horses when out to pasture, but maybe it would be good at least until you can teach them to come back. I have had my horses escape a couple times, and I completely understand how terrifying it can be. Another word of caution from my experience: never trust electric fence! Especially if there is any possibility of a power failure if you use a fencer that needs to be plugged in!
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If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth; only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. -C.S. Lewis
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post #4 of 80 Old 08-04-2016, 10:49 PM
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Don't beat yourself up. I let my horse get away from me and she ran down the road, stepped on her lead rope, fell, and injured herself badly, luckily not irrecoverably. So I know about guilt.

Leaving halters on loose horses is dangerous, I wouldn't do that. Much better to teach a recall. I recently fell off and my horse started to run off in a panic, but when I called her name she stopped and came back to me. Not that she has a real recall, but she has a kind-of one. I do work on it.

Recalls need to be reinforced continually to keep them, so once you have your recall put it on a schedule of variable reinforcement. I bet you could also strengthen it by playing games like hide and seek and stuff like that (hide behind a barrel in an arena, with a treat, and call for him).

Good thing to teach Kodak too . . .

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post #5 of 80 Old 08-04-2016, 10:54 PM
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Don't berate yourself......it happens and you learned a valuable lesson while nobody got hurt.


All of our horses are voice trained to come, but if one were to get loose, I'd also grab one of their feed buckets along with a halter. Personally, I'd never leave a halter on a horse in a stall or a pasture---horses are accident prone enough without me providing the key to getting into trouble!
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post #6 of 80 Old 08-04-2016, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Avna View Post
Don't beat yourself up. I let my horse get away from me and she ran down the road, stepped on her lead rope, fell, and injured herself badly, luckily not irrecoverably. So I know about guilt.

Leaving halters on loose horses is dangerous, I wouldn't do that. Much better to teach a recall. I recently fell off and my horse started to run off in a panic, but when I called her name she stopped and came back to me. Not that she has a real recall, but she has a kind-of one. I do work on it.

Recalls need to be reinforced continually to keep them, so once you have your recall put it on a schedule of variable reinforcement. I bet you could also strengthen it by playing games like hide and seek and stuff like that (hide behind a barrel in an arena, with a treat, and call for him).

Good thing to teach Kodak too . . .
Excellent suggestions Avna! And yes, I'm sorry I didn't say much about Kodak. She is submissive and Harley is the leader so I knew she would follow him no matter what he does. That's why I focused on getting him in.

Will work on recall with him first, because he's such a smartie pants, but also on Kodak.

Harley did certainly know my voice and would turn back to look at me... but when he did, he was in the middle of the road, on the top of a blind hill, and if someone had been coming up fast, well, this story would have had a much tragic ending. He did eventually come, but avoided me because I was carrying his halter and lead rope.
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post #7 of 80 Old 08-04-2016, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Prairie View Post
Don't berate yourself......it happens and you learned a valuable lesson while nobody got hurt.
Thank you Prairie. Yes, I try to tell myself that this was my warning. I am usually very disciplined and double-check everything though. I failed today, but everyone came out of it ok. I cannot and will not let it happen again.
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post #8 of 80 Old 08-04-2016, 11:01 PM
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It's also something to work on -- that he doesn't see the halter and rope as something to be avoided.
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post #9 of 80 Old 08-04-2016, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Avna View Post
It's also something to work on -- that he doesn't see the halter and rope as something to be avoided.
Agreed!
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post #10 of 80 Old 08-04-2016, 11:37 PM
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It happens Acadianartist no need to beat yourself up over it. I still would not leave a halter on in the pasture but I would make sure both of your horses were used to be haltered in the pasture. It would be a daily exercise until they thought nothing at all of seeing you carrying around a halter and lead rope.

My scariest incident was when TJ got away from hubby while we were on a trail ride in Missouri and he decided he was walking back home to Indiana. Thankfully by driving around and getting the word out the locals were watching for him and he was caught and contained until the farrier from the trail ride could pick him up. From what we learned my horse had quite an adventure and in fact had been caught and escaped several times. He walked right up to the people he saw but he wasn't staying put anywhere if he could help it. I truly thought I'd never see him again. He has never tried to escape from home thank goodness.

R.I.P. JC 5/19/85 - 12/9/14. You made my life better.
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