A Horse Owners Worst Nightmare

At any given moment, in the past, if I had been asked, what is a horse owners worst nightmare, I think I would have answered; fire. You know, the stable burning down. What could possibly be worse? Imagine it, your horse, stuck in a flaming hell, probably dying from smoke inhalation afterwards, should you manage to get it out before the roof collapsed on its head… Nightmare, truly.

I will say that moving my horses into an open barn, not having them trapped at all, effectively took away that fear. Sure, a fire at my barn would be annoying, I’d lose my saddle and all of my tack, which is a lot of money’s worth of equipment, but nothing irreplaceable, like my horses, because I am sure they would run out, if flames and smoke started engulfing their house. Knowing my kiddos, they love spooking and running out of the house, top speed, preferably three at the time, through the narrowest spot in the opening, making sure Saleem hits his hip on the edge of the doorway every time…

So no, moving them to an open barn, I would say that I haven’t had too many nightmares lately. One though, recently appeared and I am not sure how to get rid of that one, ever. Or how to fix it. I feel rather blindsided.

Friday evening, Ablaze ran through the fence, for no apparent reason. I got a call from the stable owners girl friend, asking me to come as fast as I could, because I had a lose horse on the road. I instantly jumped on my scooter of course, and drove there, the longest 20 minutes of my life, and when I got there, the neighbour had captured my horse, stuffed him back on the pasture, and repaired my fence.

It took me quite a while and a lot of asking around to figure out what had happened, and where he had ran out, and why.

My best guess is that Ablaze and Apocaplise has been playing, they do that a lot these days. Apocalipse is rather hard on him, and he can easily have pushed him through the fence, in a happy accident. Ablaze then, enjoyed running around on the wheat field next to our pasture, until he discovered that he could now, with his new found freedom, cross the road and say hello to the neighbour horses. So he did, and that was when the neighbour saw him…

Okay, taking a deep breath, I figured that if was a onetime thing. It was probably an accident. Nothing happened. My iron poles just bend, when pressured, the fence did not break, Ablaze did not get tangled in the fence and injured, and he did not get run down on the road. Accidents happen. He was fine, and that was all that mattered. I made sure they had a lot of hay and went home.

Saturday morning, we were going for an X Wing tournament in Germany, so it was probably the worst timing ever, for Ablaze to have run out the evening before. I never go anywhere, for fear of my horses getting in trouble when I am away, but I decided to go anyway, holding on to the idea that it was an accident. My friend, the Evil Icequeen drove past the pasture that morning, and I sent her on a head count. She said that all five horses were on the pasture, so I figured that since he had not run away again, he probably wouldn’t.

We drove to Germany, and signed in for the tournament. While we had only just signed in, I got a call from the guy who owns my stable, saying that “That big one with the blaze,” had been in his garden last night, and that another neighbour had caught him and stuffed him back on the pasture.

Imagine me, freaking out. Ablaze, having run out twice, and I was in Germany, for a fucking game?

Needless to say, I spent most of the day, trying to come up with a game plan for how to stop “running through the fence,” from becoming an everyday thing for Ablaze.

Our friend J, had signed up for taking care of the horses while I was away, and he texted me soon after, telling me that all was well, they were drowning in hay, and Ablaze remained on the pasture. And Marble did not kill him. Which calmed me down a little. Always nice when Marble does not kill people… and when your horse stays on the pasture…

So we played. J said that he had it covered with the horses. Thanks, by the way, you are a superstar!

I was trying out my Scum and Villainy list, because truth be told, I never felt much for either the empire or the rebels… I knew it was a hit and miss list, never more than one lucky dice roll from losing or winning which gave me some great and rather exciting games, most of the time.

The boyfriend was playing as well, and he played his evil Han Solo list, but this time, I realized that it can be beaten, as he lost as many games as I did, for a change. Won as many too, to be fair. But that never happens. The boyfriend is usually one lucky bastard and his list has been giving me a headache for months now….

Our Evil Icequeen friend, joined us for her first tournament, which was pretty cool, considering that she has hardly been playing at all, and this was in a foreign language, and everything. She played an amazing tournament. To be honest, I was a bit afraid that she would get creamed in the first round and lose interest or find the whole thing not so funny after all, but it turned out that she did much better than the boyfriend and me, and she seemed like she had a great time. She even ended up in the top ten, which in a tournament of 28 players, is kind of pretty amazing. Congrats Evil Icequeen! You gained a lot of geek levels! Oh, and did I mention, that you are pretty awesome? That was very well played, all day long!

Driving home, I found myself, once again, wondering how to make sure Ablaze stayed on the pasture.

The thing is, I could raise an extra fence, but if I do, it won’t just bend and lie down, if he tries to run through it. It will remain standing, and it will injure him. There is a reason for my flexible fence.

When Apollon was young, he got tangled up in the fence, twice, and it nearly killed him both times, cutting through skin and tendons, like a cheese slicer. I am terrified of fences that does not lie down if the horses run through them.

Still, I am terrified too, of having my two year old running lose on the road every night… That will surely kill him too, at some point, and quite possibly someone in a car as well…

So we went straight from an 8 hour tournament, and a long drive, to the stable, and set up an extra fence, and tied plastic strips to it, making it seem solid, ever moving, and not very easy to run through.

The thing about tying plastic strips to the fence is that it creates an optical illusion. It makes the fence look like a tight wall of bushes, and not something you can easily run through. Raising the fence, making it level with Ablaze’s eyes, might make it less attractive as well, for him to try and take it down.

I spent all day today, tying plastic to the rest of my fence, all the way round, not just at the spot where he ran out, making sure that it looks solid all over, hoping that he won’t just find a new way out. With Apocalipse on my pasture, who frequently forgets to stop in time when he is running and playing, I really don’t want a solid fence. But I will be sure to make it look solid, as much as I possibly can. And if that is not enough, well… I’ll have to think of something else then.

It turns out that I was wrong, all those years, thinking that fire is a horse owners worse nightmare. It is not.

Your horse, not respecting your fence, now THAT is a nightmare.

I mean, how do I have a horse, that doesn’t stay on the pasture, endangering himself and others at any given moment? I don’t. I can’t. I find a way to stop it, or I simply can’t have that horse. But what to do with him then? Sell him to someone who would keep him inside a stable all day? What kind of a life is that?

I am sort of falling apart here. It feels desperately hopeless, because truth is, no matter if I build a solid brick wall, it is a horse. He can run through anything, if he wants to. There is nothing I can do that would effectively stop him. All I can do, is make it unattractive, and then… Keep my fingers crossed.

Welcome to my worst nightmare. I never even knew this could be a problem, but here we are…

Don’t get me wrong, I have had horses running away before. Amalia used to jump out of the fence, if she thought the grass was greener on the other side, but she never ran away, or onto any roads, and when I showed up, she would hurriedly jump back in. Sure, that was not good, but she kind of knew what she was doing, and in time, she out grew doing it.

Apollon used to run me and the fence down, on a daily basis, but he only touched the fence when I was around, he would never run through it without me. Somehow, he seemed to think that the fence was solid when I was not there, but as long as he ploughed through me, it would break.

This though, my perfect little foal, running off with no warning, for no reason, and easily crossing the road to explore the world… Whoever raised him to fear nothing? All this bloody horsemanship, training your horses to be confident and fearless… I am beginning to think that I need to not teach this one to be comfortable with everything. I really need him to stay behind that fence.

Any ideas, feel free to share. I don’t know what the best way is, to handle this. I do know, that I am terrified of losing him to a tractor….

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About Starstone

-Owned by horses. Writer, Photographer, Director, Musician.
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5 Responses to A Horse Owners Worst Nightmare

  1. trailpony1 says:

    What a nightmare! It’s hard to imagine something scarier than your horse getting into the road, and while you’re not home, no less!

    Have you considered electric fence? My mare has a history of smashing through wooden board fence, which terrifies me. When I moved her home I tried using bipolar electric tape for the pasture. I was worried about using electric fence at first, but it has proved to be nice stuff. The horses just don’t touch it; they keep a distance of a few feet from it. They don’t seem to be uncomfortable around the fence, though, which I was worried about at first. I’m cautious of single strand electric fence, but the thicker tape I’ve been using seems like it would be much harder to get tangled in accidentally. I do still worry about them getting caught in the fence, but when my mare decided to get caught in something, she chose the gate, probably because she’s not disinclined to touch the gate like she is with the electric fence (she’s alright, I was right there when it happened. Boy, she scared me though!). Now I worry much more about the portions of the fence that are not electrified, because those are the portions that the horses interact with.

    Anyway, it might not be the solution to your problem, but I wanted to throw it out there. 🙂

    • trailpony1 says:

      Oh wait, your fence /is/ electric, isn’t it? Oops!

      • Starstone says:

        hehe yep, my fence is very electric 🙂 it is required by law in Denmark, when you fence in horses, it has to be electric 🙂 Thing is, if he runs fast enough through it, he doesn’t feel it… Or, some horses just chose to ignore it…
        Luckily, so far, he has stayed home, so it may look like my fence- reinforcements has worked out 😉 I will be sleeping with my fingers crossed though, for the next year 😉

  2. jen says:

    I use the electrified stuff called polytape all along the top of our fence – I think it’s about an inch and a half wide. Never had a horse go through – maybe it’s a combination of the electricity and the fact that it might look like a solid rail to horses…although it’s pretty windy here, so no matter how tight I pull it, the tape always seems to flutter a little in the breeze. Maybe that little bit of movement helps…I don’t know. Plus, Tequila is a pretty lazy gal – going through the fence would simply be too much work for her! 🙂

    • Starstone says:

      hehe see, my horses are usually like that.. staying clear of the fence… most of the time… 😉 I just had some bad experiences with that wide fence, I’ve had it blow over when we have storms or simply snap from the weight of the snow in winter… ? That never happens to yours? Because then I am thinking its some bad fence we buy in Denmark 😉

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