Friday, October 5, 2007

Good fences make for good neighbors....

I am sure we have all heard this little maxim before, and it is ever so true when it comes to the well being and safety of the horses in our care. This is why I am positively paranoid about the safety and functionality of my fences. Gates latched and locked at all times. All lines up and properly charged, with a decent amount of joules at the terminal end. Good luck or fate, most of the horses I have had in have been very respectful of my fencing-even if they don't always know it's an electric one to start....usually, it only takes one good zap! and they stay well off the lines, for good.

The same can not be said for others in the area. There is a guy down the road, has had a total of three horses there over the years. In previous years, he was pretty active in the local rodeo scene, as a roper...he had both a header and a heel horse. He has since sold most of his property to a developer and last I knew he had actually moved off the property to another house. His horses stayed as a succession of renters/employees lived in the trailer house left behind. No barn or anything, just panels. When he had cattle they were always out, creating havoc in the area but those went away a few years ago. Now there is just the one horse left over there, a Tobiano paint gelding.

This past spring, not three days after I had planted my vegetable garden, I found the paint gelding at my barn, loose. He had torn the heck out of my new garden, and was generally creating mayhem up there. Called AC, they came and got him fairly quickly. I later heard that the owner fiddle farted around for three days before finally trying to find someone to haul the horse home for him. At that time, the paint with the crippled and fused knees, was in good flesh, but had an untreated wound on his fetlock-likely from running loose. At any rate, it ended up costing the owner over $300.

To say I was surprised to find the same horse at my barn in the dark this morning is an understatement. I walked out and saw one too many heads, and thought "Oh no!" and made a U turn to get on better footwear. When I get up there I see the same old lame horse, he's a little rattled but just my voice calms him enough I can get him haltered. I stick him in the round pen out back of the barn, and proceed to call AC. Which of course isn't open that early, so I end up at the Palmer Dispatch, who informs me AC does not open until 10. Oh great! Head back up, feed the rest of the horses. Call my coworker to inform her I am going to be late, and why. As I am sitting in my car, drinking coffee, daylight shows that the horse had been there quite some time. Hoof prints and four piles of manure prove this. I feed the old horse some grass hay to quiet things down up there.

I had hoped to speak to someone at AC, but of course their policy doesn't allow for easy communication between the public and the officers themselves. I get a call just before 10 that they will send someone right out. By 11, I am concerned enough to call back, only to discover that all officers are in a compulsory meeting of some sort. Yeah right, and whats not compulsory about my boss needing me at work? 15 minutes later I get told to leave a note by the horse, they will come pick him up. Which I do. Leaving my work phone number of course.

It's now almost three and I don't know if the horse has been picked up, no one has called and of course you can't get any information out of the triage types manning the phones at the front desk.

I had wanted to explain to the officer myself, that the horse had been over the previous afternoon, shortly before I arrived home from work. My new boarder, who is pretty much a novice handler after 15 years away from horses, had taken her mare out to the round pen for additional exercise when the paint galloped on up the hill to the barn. This scared her silly, but she was able to shoo him away and he took off again. I shudder to think about what might have happened if she had been at the barn with a mare on a lead (in heat of course) when the horse came visiting.......very scary thought.

That horse had been loose all night, from at least somewhere between 4 and 5 pm, and 6 am this morning. No one came looking for him, no one called, and he obviously had tummy issues as he had very loose stools. Poor old fart. I took pictures with a disposable camera I happened to have on hand. I still want to discuss the changes in the horses' physique with the officer who picked him up as it's obvious he has lost weight over the summer.

So you may be wondering why I didn't bother to find the owner, if I know his name. Well, first, the guy really is a jerk. Everyone was thankful when he moved out of the area. He had come over to my place five years ago, crying about having no hay for his rope horses. I "loaned" him 250 pounds of hay which I could not really afford to let go-of course he never replaced it, despite promises to do so. Strike one. Strike two was when the horse showed up the first time. Today was strike three. If he didn't care enough about the horse the first time AC impounded him to talk to me about it, then screw him. He surely won't care this time as the horse is in worse shape now. If the poor old horse is lucky, he'll get three or four days at the AC facility, to get some decent feed and access to a barn at the very least.

I wonder if AC knows that there is no shelter there, as required by statute......


suvalley said...

Well the old crippled horse did not get lucky.

The responding AC officer took the easy way out, and walked the horse home. I only learned this because the officer left a message at home, describing what he had done. This is not going to fix anything over there, and they avoided a citation for failure to restrain by calling the horse in as lost before I called. Perhaps even the night before, who knows.

They did not care enough to come looking for him, obviously.

At least I have pictures, which I hope to get developed today. And of course on Monday I will attempt to speak to the officer directly about the horse's condition.

forthefutureofthebreed said...

Thank you for addressing safe fencing for horses.
Not too long ago, someone on a chat group was complaining about a neighbor's stallion, who had broken INTO this person's corral and fought with HIS stallion and mares. To that, I said, build better fences. Of course, I was the big bad person for suggesting that, since this person was a "victim" of an irresponsible stallion owner. Unbelievable. You just can't fix stupid.

Natrlhorse said...

Hey suvalley, do you have contact info for your friend who wrote that article you posted on fugly?
my friend would like to talk to him/her about it (good thing)
You can e-mail me

suvalley said...

Natrlhorse, you have mail :)

As a side note, I have tried various types of fencing up here over the years. It's always difficult to balance cost with safety. Many of the fencing products available in the L48 are beyond sky high here, which is why you don't see much in the way of poly, for example.

Most horses are kept within electric fencing of some type, with woven/welded wire a close second, followed by wood-which usually means just logs in a buck fence or similar. Since our places tend to be on small lots of an acre or so, the effectiveness of that fence depends solely on the expertise of whoever put it up.

Rebar is not a good ground rod, even if it's less than half the price of a solid copper house type ground rod.

The thin poly string type fencing won't keep a moose out.

The half inch tape won't keep a moose out and doesn't last more than about three years before degrading from sunlight.

The two inch tape works okay, but snow load can cause an issue. This means you must get off your butt and tap the snow off at every single snowfall.

T post caps are an added protection. Shame on you if you are too cheap to put them on (I have them on every T post on the property-even ones outside the main fence line as braces) I only know of two horses who have survived up here after being impaled on a T post.

A heavy duty, arctic extension cord to run your fence (if needed) is about 50 cents a foot to purchase. Buy one. Spring the extra $4 and get the one with a light built into the plug in too so you can tell in the dark whether you are connected or not.

A fence tester is less than $5. Get one of those too, because when you have fence problems the spot where it's grounding out may not be obvious with 18 inches of packed snow/ice.

Put in a tall fence. You will be amazed at how short it becomes over the winter.

And while you are at it, put your stock tank on a pallet. Horses cannot drink easily when the water surface is below their feet.