Free as the wind.
That’s the best way to describe horses, or any typically penned livestock for that matter, when they get out of their confined environment. It can be because the gate is open for whatever reason, or any number of motivations, like being frightened by the weather.
Countless times we’ve had livestock on the prowl, often at a very fast pace, since they were where they weren’t supposed to be. Frequently, hogs used to get out; but that’s just their nature in our type of facilities. Cattle recurrently are on the wrong side of the fence, obviously thinking the grass is greener there.
However, after most horses experience the initial thrill of escape, they prefer the security of where they’ve been. They’ll run out at just a crack of the gate, but within minutes, they’re trying to get back, and are upset if the gate is closed, and they can’t.
There are exceptions, though, and we’ve had that happen a couple of times recently. Horses were put in different pastures than they’ve been in, and when chased or alarmed, they went through the fence. These went down a fast trail, not looking back. We don’t think they really liked it, but were too proud to give up the chance to flee.
Finally, the horses became so lost in the timber we couldn’t find them, and they didn’t know where they were either. Many times, when livestock wanders for miles, they’ll instinctively return days later. That was not the case in these situations.
We knew they’d show up dead or alive, but after no sign for weeks, we began to think they really were gone forever. Advertisements and phone calls seeking their whereabouts were of no avail. Surely, nobody would have taken them as wild as they were, so they must have perished, perhaps from mishap.
When we’d nearly forgotten about them, they showed up. One was in a pasture not too far away, and another was still free as the wind roaming the countryside. They did seem glad when we returned them to their home stomping ground.
More recently, a mare was out of her summer pasture for an extended period, and attempts to drive her back were unsuccessful. She really didn’t want to be where she belonged. Even with persuasive mates nickering and prancing the fence, she was quite persistent before finally giving in and inching through the home gate.
Once inside, she seemed as happy to be home as she was excited to be away. Isn’t that just like most people? There really is nothing like home.
Getaway horses remind us of Job 9:25: “Now my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good.” But, we have learned to heed Luke 17:23: “They will say to you, ‘ Look here.’ Do not go away, and do not run after them.” Eventually, the lesson is observed as in Numbers 24:21: “Your home is secure; your nest is set in the rocks.”