We haven’t had any incidents recently (knock on wood), but one of our biggest fears with the horses is that they will get out of their stalls at night. This has actually happened three times – twice with Valentine, and once with Moonshine. (Not counting the time Valentine got into Moonshine’s stall.)
The first time was pretty funny. Our barn is situated so the horses’ stalls are on the side closest to the house, with their windows facing the house. When we walk up to the barn, we walk to the south side where the big door is, open the gate and go in (there is a gate at each end of the barn, one to the driveway and one to the pasture). Usually, when we round that corner the horses’ heads are poking out of the stalls into the barn “aisle” to greet us. On this particular morning, there was an entire horse in the barn aisle, munching on hay. Apparently we (read “I”) had not latched Valentine’s stall door all the way. He didn’t seem to mind.
Just a couple of weeks later, Bill came to me one morning with our digital camera and showed me a picture on the screen. “What’s wrong with this picture?” he asked. I studied the photo of a horse grazing and suddenly realized that the pasture fence was behind the horse. “He’s on the wrong side of the fence!” I said. “She, actually,” he replied. Again, we had forgotten to check the stall door latches, this time on the outside door, and Moonshine had been wandering for who knows how long. Long enough to eat our budding corn stalks, anyway.
The last time was a fluke; Valentine actually broke his stall door open one night. But these experiences remind us: always check all your stall doors, and gates, then check them again. Better safe than sorry!
But don’t be surprised to find your horse on the wrong side of a door anyway. Some horses actually learn to open latches on their own. Ours have been nosing around the doors, and I just know we’re going to find them outside one day when we’re sure we checked those doors.