A little background. Our property is essentially a rectangle with the front half developed, meaning house, stalls, garages etc. In the front there is a good deal, maybe 10 acres of grass if you include our front yard. The back part is pasture and trees. A good pasture management plan would have poisoned the pasture weeds in the spring and allowed the grass to grow. I didn't own the place this spring. The front and back parts are separated by fencing except the fence does not cross the dam. I suppose the reasoning was the horses won't go into the water to bypass the fence. According to Winter, before we arrived the horses stayed in the back area.
After purchasing this place we discovered the well feeding the pond was broken. Consequently, in the miserably hot days this spring the pond level went down. And, with the drought it kept going down. FYI the well has been repaired and the pond level is back up. Took a month of continuous pumping at 60 gallons a minute. We are blessed to have a good well.
Back to the horses. As the pond level decreased and with the poor pasture management the horses got smarter. The leader horse bypassed the fence followed by other horses, got their feet muddy and slipped past the fence to the front area and good grass. We hadn't moved in yet but we got a frantic call one evening that the horses were out. Ivy, Winter and Swazie were going to shut the front gates. Ok I said. Next day we found out that shutting the gates had been a significant task. Both gate automatic closers had been broken for so long a bunch of dirt and grass had grown up making the gates hard to shut. They got them shut.
As mentioned the well is fixed and the water level is up, but the horses remembered the good grass ‘out front'. It didn't take long into the drought before Winter was needing to supplement the diminishing back pasture with hay. It also didn't take long for the horses to move themselves around the fence through the pond to the front of the property, regardless how much new fencing we added, although actually we only added about 20 feet and gave up.
Now the horses are allowed onto the front pasture and we keep the gates closed. Some issues with that are that we have workmen call us to ask if they can open the gate, and the poop keeps showing up in the front yard. And, the constant worry that someone will leave the gate open so we monitor closely. Good news is a lot less time on the mower.
Winter, Ivy, and Swazie were bringing in the horses each evening and putting them in the lower arena, with water of course. When Winter and Swazie went on vacation I was called to help bring them in. No problem! You put a flake of hay into the four wheeler and drive the four wheeler out to the horses. But, horses prefer fresh grass to hay and they stopped following the hay. No problem! We just put a halter on the herd leader and lead him down and the others will follow. Worked the first evening. Second evening a stubborn male decided not to follow the leader. No problem! We will just need to halter the stubborn male and lead him down. That worked. So next night we grab the leader and the stubborn male and lead them down together and the others are nicely following slowly behind. Except, Ivy with the leader enters the arena first and removed the halter assuming her horse would stay in the arena while I brought in the stubborn horse. She assumed I was right behind her and she left the gate open. You guessed it. Ivy removed the halter and the leader was back out the gate and galloping around the fence, through the water and up to the fresh front grass area. I think Ivy muttered a bad word but, from the look on her face, I wasn't about to ask. Note to self, horses are fast, beware of open gates. It was in fact a beautiful sight to see that horse gallop.
New process, halter the leader and the stubborn one. Lead all horses into the arena, shut the gate then turn the horses loose. Simple three step process, until they decide to resist the halter in favor of the nice grass. Hasn't happened yet-just thinking.
Postscript: Just as we thought we had it figured out today was a new story. The leader and the stubborn horse came easy. And the colt nicely followed. But, the girls were playing hard to catch. I shooshed them with a hardy butt smack down past the main gate, held open by my pretty wife, but they would not go to the arena. I caught one with a halter and talked the other mare into the arena. I was pleased with myself but understand they were going to do what they wanted— it was pure luck.
Really impressed. My kids started by grooming and ended with a trail ride