August 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm #22259
Even if you currently live in an urban or suburban environment, you may have horse stables or other operations with livestock on your fringes; and if you intend to BO through a rural area – take time when you can to learn the theory and basics of how to handle loose livestock (horses, cows, sheep, pigs, ducks etc) Who knows, time may come when you are hungry enough that that cow, sheep etc, if you could just catch them, would go far in easing a lot of hunger. In SHTF, horses will become more valuable for transportation and work most likely – than diner.
Last night, coming home, came upon a scene of an accident – there were 4 horses now loose on and around the road. Traffic was stopped in both directions. Rightly so. A frightened horse, a large animal of some 1200lbs or more, can cause some serious damage to vehicles and occupants.
Our friends in the car behind us and a few other horse people got out and went to talk to the police. They were considering a plan and had put in calls to someone, somewhere with horse experience to come catch them so they could deal with the accident itself. We offered to help.
1) We asked the officers to have one of their vehicles on each side (their were five) back up some 500-1000 yards (all had lights flashing to alert oncoming cars of danger); and asked the others to turn off their lights. Horses are visual creatures. Flashing lights, approaching dusk frightens them.
2) One of the guys dashed back to the truck and came back with a couple of folgers coffee cans an a bucket. We scooped up some of the small gravel from the swale and placed it in each container. Most horses you will run into are tame and know the sound of oats in a feed bucket. Many are fed chunky horse treats. the noise in the can of stuff is very familiar to most of them and will get their attention and interest. My girlfriend ripped 2 feed bags and on the paper liner write in big letters – ‘NO HORNS PLEASE – LOOSE HORSES!’ and gave them to an officer on each side of the road. They walked up and down the line of cars with the sign.
3) Two of us just stood in the middle of one lane, talking, jiggling our can up and down as close as we could get to one of the horses now grazing, jerkily, with much snorting, blowing and frightened upward head movements, (Don’t look a horse in the eyes if you are intent on catching them. Predators do that. Stay calm and look at them but not in the eyes).
4) The guys started casually walking down to get past the farthest horse, well away from them, quietly talking, jiggling the cans. Two of them were alternately trotting, trotting in circles, heads up, snorting and blowing. Eventually, they started to become a tad bit less crazy. The guys fanned out just a bit at that point and started walking back to us, talking quietly yet normally, jiggling the cans. Thankfully no one blew their horns during all this.
5) Meantime, the horse near us had been slowly moving towards us (as we ignored it and kept jiggling the can) – head stretched out, pulled back in, stretched out again. Thankfully they all had halters on.
6) When she got a with a few yards of us, I stuck out my hand and turned to her with a ‘hey babe, whatcha doing?’ but didnt look at her. She stopped, I knew I could approach her, and still talking to my friend, reached out, patted her nose and grabbed her halter. One down.
7) Horses are herd creatures. Seeing one of their friends standing with a couple of humans is a normal sight to them. the guys slowly and surely walked towards us, horses nervously following until they each, one at a time did the same thing.
Nights entertainment in the country.
– don’t stand anywhere near the back of either of the sides of a horse. They can kill you with their kicks and can kick sideways
– if you are going to try and catch a horse with a rope don’t let them see it for gosh sakes. They may not be the brightest things but they aren’t stupid and know what a rope means.
-if you have a rope on a horse and it is rearing and striking out with its front feet and are inexperienced let the darn rope go – don’t get hurt – they are batsh*t scared at that point
– horses, if they are near home and are familiar with where they are will mostly, run home.
– do not walk quickly, trot or bother chasing a horse you want to catch – don’t wave your arms, yell, curse and swear – it won’t happen – you won’t catch them just drive them to do something crazy and farther away.
– once you have caught a loose horse, to keep them calmer, from behind their ears, slip a shirt or bandana over their eyes. If they can’t see it they are less afraid
Those are my quick tips. I’m sure someone can add others. Cows are another subject. Maybe someone else wants to chime in on that too. There’s a great guy fm CO that has interesting info about cattle, pig and sheep movement. I read all about it before I got my first cows and he is right! I had noticed the same behavioral responses in my sheep. For those interested here’s a link to the beginning theory.
Just thought it is a subject we haven’t talked about and will definitely come in handy, probably even if you don’t think so now.August 17, 2014 at 4:05 pm #22269
In general horses are about the only large livestock you are going to get your hands on to lead. Most other livestock will have to be hearded or roped. Pushing heard animals back into a group tends to calm them down some. If you can heard them into a corner and let them calm down, you will have better luck getting them to go where you want. For single or small groups(3-4) depending on how much help you have roping is an option but as tweva said before roping panics the animal so if you’re not on a horse roping can get dangerous fast. Roping will scatter a large heard. They will run away from the roped animal so you will have to heard them up again after each animal is roped. Hearding them along a fence line to an open gate is a better and safer option.August 18, 2014 at 12:32 am #22373
The neighbors miniature horses got out one moon lit night and startled me as I looked out the window as I was about to turn in. They were right outside that window and startled me as much as I startled them. They take off running around my yard and I called the neighbor. I’m not sure what he offered them but he got one to start running back towards their pen and the rest followed.
This spring one of the baby sheep next door got loose and was on my side of the fence. I was alerted to it by the incessant bleeting beyond their normal background noise. The neighbors were away and knowing what would likely happen if it were left out overnight I figured go catch me a baby sheep. It was in my side yard and when I got close, it takes off running along the fence through a wooded wet area of mine. I follow it all the way through that area and emerge into my back field. Having established it can run faster than me, it was time for Plan B. I took off a floppy hat I was wearing and my sunglasses so as to hopefully be a bit less menacing looking, and I got down on my knees for the same objective. Lastly I starting talking very softly to it in the way you’d speak to a young child, and it calmed down. I slowly inched towards it and then finally grabbed it and lifted it back over the fence. The mother was at the fence the entire time bleeting her heart out, with the rest of the gang close by just watching it all. Should it happen again I will just go to Plan B from the get go.August 18, 2014 at 12:40 am #22377
Next time MB…..Plan B pictures would no doubt put smiles on lots of faces!August 18, 2014 at 12:58 am #22382
I’m sure photos would be entertaining because I really had no idea what I was doing, but knew it was getting late in the day and predators would find some easy prey if that baby wasn’t reunited with its mother. I swear the mother remembered me the next day because she ran up to the fence when she saw me come into the yard. The neighbor’s free range chickens haven’t fared so well however. The dozen they started with this spring are down to only 4. They come into my yard every day which is great given they’re eating bugs. I can account for 2 of the missing ones from the piles of feathers I found in the yard, one of them being about a 20′ trail of feathers as it got dragged off rather than a pile.August 18, 2014 at 5:31 am #22427
Another great post – thanks for this one and the blackberries. Learned from both of them. Had horses when I was a kid, but they weren’t ours, we just kept them for people.
Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property... mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.
- Thomas Paine
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