"Loose Horse!" Sh%t Happens
Oh crud. The day has come.
Sure, best case scenario, Beloved is under control and doesn't break free from you or anyone else. Second best scenario, Beloved breaks free and no one notices!
Thing is . . . this happens. To everyone. At home, at shows, and, gasp, in large public places near major highways.
Either way, here's your moment to shine Horse Husband!
If you've followed this course thus far and/or have been around the barn long enough you will have all the tools and know-how you need: you know how to approach a prey animal, you can halter and lead, and you can successfully bring Beloved back to safety. If you've skipped over the aforementioned chapters . . well, no time for that now, so g'ahead and skip right to action.
Remain graceful while sticking to this plan:
- Call out "Loose Horse!" in a voice that implies importance, sans panic. This will serve to decrease stimulation, and increase chances that Beloved doesn't run (further) amuck. Any seasoned horse-people within earshot will most likely take note, stop what they're doing, and probably offer help if they're able.
- Scan for any gates to close (or open) in Beloved's environment. You might get lucky and find he heads strait for an empty stall, arena or pasture. Likewise if your farm / barn has a gate across the driveway this would be an excellent time to be sure it's closed.
- Next, grab a halter & lead and a bucket of grain. If you have access to some or none of these, substitute as needed: use a baling twine, your belt, or a dog leash, and in lieu of grain you can try luring your escapee with something that sounds like grain, ie a coffee cup with a few pebbles in it. Remember, food is hugely attractive! Let Beloved know what you're packin'.
- Set out on your mission : to minimize Beloved's level of excitement, to pique his curiosity (remember, you've got one of his favorite things in your bucket), and to catch his a$$ before he's hip to this whole loose thing and heads for the hills / highway / nearest 9-hole golf course**. (** I'll tell you right now this is based on a true story!) Once within handling range give Beloved a little nibble of grain, giving him a reason to stick around while you proceed to retain him.
- Proceed to Capture! You can now put your haltering, holding and leading skills to use and your heroic efforts will not go un-noticed! Just keep in mind that Beloved may be a bit high on life during an episode like this so do your best to remain calm: keep your own energy low, your gaze soft, and you the pressure low. Put a rope around the base of his neck, put his halter on, give him a warm and hearty "Good Boy" (despite how mad or embarrassed you might be) and escort him back to wherever he was supposed to be in the first place.
- What if Beloved moves off or away on your approach? Stop in your tracks and/ or even back up a few steps. If you continue in pursuit you'll find out just how much faster he runs than you do. Try shaking your grain bucket a few more times. A next option would be to casually walk past him (give him room!) and approach him from a new angle. If he flees now he's likely heading in the right direction (back to where he came from.) Keep your cool, remain patient, bribe with food.
Good luck! And chances are it'll make for a good story tonight.
PS: DO NOT attempt to chase and straddle a loose horse. (As tempting as it may be.) Public Service Video Here:
PPS. - Be sure to look out for my upcoming children's book: Ponies, Golf Courses and My Daughter's College Tuition