By Karen Carlson
Everyone likes to think their horses are safe. Placed in a well-built corral or pasture we have it in mind that they will be secure from any harm.
We comb over the ground looking for nails, rocks, and other debris that may hurt our beloved horses. Many folks use hot wire in an extra effort to keep their horses from leaning on or through the fencing. I’ve seen people put up pipe corrals, then wooden fencing as a secondary barrier. Of course, horses eat wood, so that rarely lasts very long if it is within their reach.
I hadn’t given much thought to the type of fencing I used for my horses until I got Cricket. I always used pipe corral type fencing and never had an issue. Cricket, however, has taught me over the years the many ways of getting out of even the pipe fencing: Pushing until it gives, picking up portions of it until it comes apart, opening the gate latches, fiddling with the bolts on the clamps until the nut comes off, and so on. I never had any of these issues with the domestic equine I owned.
After years of living with her getting out and pigging out, there are chains and clips all over the fencing. We have extra panels, metal bars, and support buttresses everywhere to keep the horses in the fence and safe. Luckily they like where they live and the food they receive, so they haven’t left the property, and we have additional fencing around the perimeter, but not everyone is so lucky.
A couple of months ago driving from my home to work in the dark morning hours, I saw what looked like a huge blood stain on the road. Of course I immediately denied it to myself but quickly noticed tractor tire marks in the roadway, and huge, dark streaks following the tracks — again, absolute denial.
While my brain told me, and I really did know the reality, that a horse was hit and obviously killed right there on the road so close to home, I just couldn’t fathom the idea. There was too big a stain for it to have been a dog, or really even a human being. It was, however, too dark to know for certain. I could hardly breathe at the thought of it. It haunted me all day.
On my way home in the light of day I did see the telltale signs of a large animal having bled, a lot, on the side of the road and a tractor having to be used to pick it up and get it out of the traffic lanes and out of public view. I was so sad. I got home and checked my pasture clamps and fencing and felt worried for days. I couldn’t imagine what happened to the vehicle or person driving it. I hoped they were OK.
Again about two weeks ago another story surfaced of a horse getting loose at night and having been hit and killed on the other side of town. I know the person was OK and I know the horse was not. I know the owners of the horse did everything they could to avoid the situation, but honestly how can we guarantee that our horses are safe? Without accusation or blame, my heart was broken for those involved. Shoot, I cry when I hit a squirrel. I can’t begin to fathom hitting a horse.
Two horses killed within a couple of months. Wow! I went out and checked my pasture fencing again and tightened all of the clamps whether they needed it or not. I asked my husband if he thought my horses were safe enough and talked about it until he went out and checked, too. OK, I nagged, but hey, these are the loves of my life we’re talking about!
Many other people are successful in keeping their horses safe with wooden fencing, hot wire fencing, vinyl, and many other types, but there are those horses like Cricket that are more difficult to contain. Obviously, since two of them were killed in recent months. I don’t know why some feel the need to get out. Maybe some horses live by “the grass is greener” theory on life, who knows?
These harsh reminders made me want to share with you, and remind you to please be aware to check your fencing often, know your equine well and always try to out think them to keep them safe. Unfortunately the worst sometimes happens.
Feel free to e mail me with ways you use to contain your horses and keep them safe at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post some of your ideas on our Facebook page — or post directly on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/karenandcricket so others can read, too.
Karen Carlson is a Ramona resident.