Thursday, March 24, 2016

The strange case of the escaped Haffie

Last night when I pulled up to the house after work, I immediately noticed something was amiss: Paddy was standing OUTSIDE our perimeter fence, in the greenbelt. Taran and Brego were standing right next to the fence on the track, keeping him company.

I couldn't grab his halter fast enough, and sprinted to get him. Was he hurt? How had he gotten out? How long had he been out? OMG WAS HE HURT??????

I don't have any pictures of him standing on the wrong side of the fence, because I was panicking and generally I don't take pictures when I'm panicking. As I ran to him, he started walking toward me, ears pricked as if to say, "Hi! I'm not sure what I'm doing here, but can you take me home now?" There was no blood. There were no scrapes. Our 5 foot perimeter fence was up. The 5 foot high front gate (our only gate) was closed.

But Paddy had gotten out.

As I walked him back to the barn, I called Fuzzypony. She had come out at 1 to pull Taran's sheet, and she confirmed that Paddy was in the barn at 1, and that she had closed the gate when she left. The gate was still closed when I got home at 5, so he hadn't been out for longer than 4 hours, which was good. Still, there's a lot of lush grass on the greenbelt, so I called the vet to ask what to do in case of founder. One dose of banamine later, and a (confused) Haffie locked safely in a deeply bedded stall, and I was able to spend some more time on the puzzle.

At first, I thought that Paddy had jumped over the perimeter fence from the track. But then I found a pile of manure on our front sidewalk, and I discovered that our interior fence charger had died (it was old, they tend to do this, a new one is on order). It was pretty clear that Paddy had slipped through the interior track fence into the back pasture, then wandered around the side of the house to the driveway.

But how had he gotten from there to the greenbelt?

I went to look at the tracks on the greenbelt. There was a single set of tracks through the tall grass, from the street back to where Taran and Brego were standing. There was a small patch of grass about 10x20 where it was clear Paddy had been and had lain down for a nap. Otherwise, there were no tracks in or out of that little patch. He'd clearly gone from the street back to his buddies, then stayed right next to them until I came to get him.

There are times when having a really herd-bound horse can be a good thing!

Based on the tracks in the grass, it's pretty clear that Paddy did NOT jump the perimeter fence. Instead, he went over or through the gate, east down our street, then around the side of our place to the greenbelt. I can't think of a single reason he'd jump the gate - his buddies were in the back, and he'd not willingly leave them - plus he had plenty of grass right where he was! Besides, he's athletic, but I don't think he's athletic (or motivated) enough to jump a 5' gate.

Which means that somebody opened it for him. (Normally, the gate requires a code, but yesterday the batteries were being charged so anyone could have opened it manually.)

Apparently not as much of a deterrent as expected.

Here's the thing. Nobody was at our house between when Fuzzypony left at 1 and when I got home at 5. I called our neighbors and they hadn't seen anything. However, one neighbor mentioned that he'd found one of their donkeys out in the greenbelt a few weeks ago. Same story - all fences up, all gates closed. In 35 years of living in their house, nothing like that has ever happened.

So somehow, two equids with no history of escaping, no fences down, no gates opened, have escaped in the last month. That's pretty suspicious... and rather scary. I'm just glad everyone was returned home quickly and nobody got hurt.

All Haffies present and accounted for. And hungry.

Soooo... anyone got any recommendations for a wireless security camera?

44 comments:

  1. Scary doesn't really begin to cover it. That's completely terrifying. So glad nothing else bad happened.

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  2. Yikes! Good Haffie for staying close!

    Can you get a second set of batteries for your main gate so that it always needs a code to open it?

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    1. YOU ARE BRILLIANT. Why did I not think of a second set of batteries!?!? They're on order as of now. THANK YOU!

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  3. I have nothing to add we haven't already discussed, but man that's so scary.

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    1. Yeah, I thought I was going to find a seriously damaged Haffie... dodged the bullet on that one!

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    1. That's what we're thinking. Any suggestions?

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  5. Husband wired up a camera system at our house that we got from Walmart. It's not the best, but it does the job and has caught numerous things like people wandering through our yard. Our property isn't nearly as big as yours, so I'd call a security company. Very scary.

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    1. I'll PM you about this so I can pick your brain about what you've got set up.

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  6. Yikes! I've had my horses do some weird escapes over the years, and it always puts a lump in my throat. Glad P's okay. :0)

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    1. Escaping is strictly not allowed. Ever.

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  7. um that's slightly horrifying. sure, the easiest explanation is usually the simplest (and least suspicious)... but then again some VERY sick and twisted stuff happened at some farms in our area a couple years ago that definitely involved criminal activity. be careful :(

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    1. Yeah, we reported it and we're working on making the place a bit more secure. So scary!

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  8. NO ONE HURT PRECIOUS PADDY! But the laying in the grass part was pretty cute

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    1. Oh it was, except that I thought he was laying down to die or something since he went down just as I pulled into the driveway. PANIC!

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  9. Why in the world would someone just turn them loose and leave? So crazy. Glad he stuck around!

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    1. My guess is they saw a cute horse in the driveway, opened the gate to go pet him, and he got out. But who knows, it's all speculation. This is why we keep the horses in the back, where you can't see them from the street, unless we're home. Less of a temptation for any passers-by.

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  10. If it turns out that there is a nut job wandering around randomly releasing equines, what will you do when you catch them?! (hint: Brego could help :D)

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    1. Turn them in to the police. We have an excellent tight-knit community.

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  11. That's super super scary and weird! Other than your neighbors, have you heard about any other incidents of loose horses on the greenbelt? I'm inclined to think it's someone playing what they think is a joke.

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    1. No, but there aren't many horses that are visible from the street in our neighborhood. There's a donkey and a llama across the street, but those neighbors have an 8 foot security fence so I expect its much less tempting.

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  12. I'm glad he's okay. We've used Dropcams, though not at the barn as they require wi-fi.

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    1. We have wi-fi, I'll look into those. Thanks!

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  13. Can you leave a big, scary dog loose?

    That is definitely not cool. Is there any chance that one of the horses opened the gate? I used to ride a mare who could open stall doors, however she never closed them behind her.

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    1. We have a big, scary dog, but he's a house dog and not 100% trustworthy outside unsupervised. So no.

      It would be impossible for Paddy to open the gate, leave, then re-bungee it behind him. So no, the only way he could have escaped without having the gate opened for him would be to jump.

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  14. What the hell. I don't understand people. Glad that floofy pony was ok!

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    1. It's not the first time someone has done something weird with the horses. People are nuts.

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  15. Holy crap!!! So glad everyone is OK!

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    1. I need to teach him not to follow strangers with carrots.

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  17. Very scary stuff. I had a mini-panic attack with J called me. Did I or did I not close the gate? YES, I did. Whew! For the moment All's Well That Ends Well.
    However, "So somehow, two equids with no history of escaping,..." I have to put a finger up here... J, you have an equid with a definite history of being an escapee. If you don't believe me just read back through your blog. LOL

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    1. He's never escaped the perimeter fence. So the rest don't count! :)

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  19. Very scary! I'm glad Paddy is okay and herd bound. Tex got out once -- he got out of his pasture, wandered down the driveway, and the metal in his shoes triggered the gate which opened and let him out. Fortunately, like Paddy, he stayed close to his herd mates. But I totally get the panic part.

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    1. We might remove the metal sensor on the gate so that it only opens using the little zappers - Brego managed to open it once (how, we have no clue, he doesn't wear shoes!!!) so that's terrifying too. I'm glad Tex didn't go far - having a horse out is terrifying!

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  20. Long time reader checking in ....

    Perhaps a wildlife camera or two? I don't have any personal experience with one, but I have read where people use them for this purpose (security and trespass) as well as knowing what wildlife wanders through their living space. Something camoflauged and not obvious.

    It also might be useful to have some WIFI types on your house to watch the front gate and the back-barn area that you could check on remotely that do not need to be so 'hidden'.

    If someone is trying to avoid detection by the obvious 'house security', you might catch them with the wildlife camera(s).

    M in NC
    long time reader who enjoys the rides vicariously, and the adventures of Paddie and Brego.

    Did you every update Brego hoof chip incident? He's back in work, so all must be well.

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    1. Wildlife cameras are a good idea! However, I might actually want it to be obvious that the place has security cameras... less chance (hopefully) of people messing around!

      Brego's hoof chip is long since grown out and he's 100% these days. Thanks for asking!

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  21. I second the suggestion of the wildlife game cameras, they are easily hidden and can be set up to take pictures and/or video when they detect movement and the presence of an animal or human. Double bonus they have night time settings to take pictures without a flash. My dad's friend has one that sends a notification to his phone every time his camera takes a picture or video.

    So glad that Paddy is OK.

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    1. Hm, definitely will look into those. We don't need a continuous feed, just something that detects motion. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  22. Terrifying, glad everyone was ok!

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    1. I definitely lost a few years off my life with that one!!

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