We went to get hay on Saturday from our favorite hay supplier, Grammy. We were down to about 6 square bales – yikes! – so it was past time. Grammy’s farm is down some winding country roads back in the boonies. We were heading home down one of those meandering, narrow roads when we saw a mare and foal in the front yard of a house. I often see horses and think, “Dang! Those horses are loose!” – only to realize that there’s a barbed wire fence around them. But this time, they actually were loose.
Luckily, they were just grazing in the yard and didn’t seem inclined to wander…but we know from experience (twice!) that there will most likely be some wandering to come, and probably some road-crossing too. So we pulled into the driveway and knocked on the door. No answer. Bill tried to get close to the mama but she wasn’t having it. I went into the barn behind the house and tried to find a lead rope. I saw a couple but they were tied to the barn, obviously being used as cross-ties, but given the situation I decided since I’d already trespassed I might as well untie a lead rope too. So I did. I also noticed that one stall in the barn was empty with the door wide open.
I headed back out to the front yard with my lead rope and filled Bill in on the barn situation. Mama saw the lead rope and shied away. We decided we’d try to herd them toward the barn, so Bill got behind them on one side of the house and I went around the other side to keep them from just rounding around it instead of going into the barn, which was behind the house. They unfortunately ended up cornered against a barbed-wire fence. This was a little scary, since up to this point Mama had avoided anyone coming toward her. But she started grazing quietly and didn’t seem afraid, so I decided to just take it really slow and see if I could get closer to her, making it clear to her that I was aiming for her and not her baby. So I talked to her for a bit, then walked up slowly until I got a hand on her flank. She was okay with that, so I petted her side, then her back, then her neck, then her head…then got my hand on her halter. She very obediently lifted her head and let me put the lead rope on her. Then we led her and baby up to the barn and into the stall without incident.
We left a note at the front door telling the residents what we had found and what we had done, noting that we hoped the horses were actually theirs, and left our number. We haven’t heard anything yet. There was a sign in the barn with a name, the title “farrier,” and a phone number, which we wrote down. We have called the number a couple of times with no answer.
This incident, combined with the previous ones, has reminded us that we need to make sure that if our horses get out, whoever finds them will know where they belong. The sign in the barn was a good idea, and we’re thinking about putting one in our barn with our names and phone numbers on it. (We’ve considered halters with name tags, but we don’t leave halters on our horses so that wouldn’t be very effective.) It also reminded us that we need to step up our plans for an electric fence!