So, the dogs got me up to go out & be fed around 6:15 as usual. Mind you, they don't know it's really 7:15 this morning, and neither do the horses, so I decided I'd stumble through quickly and hop back into bed for a little nap before heading out to feed the horses. Although I know they'll readjust to our artificial tweaking of the clock, at least for today I can feed an hour late and they won't be banging on gates, convinced they are starving to death. And, of course, it doesn't mean I actually got an extra hour of sleep (oh, how I wish!), but I can pretend.
In a blurry haze of nearsightedness and muzzy sleepiness, I thought I saw a horse walking down the driveway when I let the dogs in. That can't be right... but, yes, indeed, there is a horse walking towards the road. Oh, crap!! I pull my boots on over bare feet, dash outside in my robe, then think better of it, run back inside & upstairs for my glasses and peek out the window at the stairs to confirm that I did see what I thought I saw. Oh, geez - there's Cricket meandering down the road as if he had a coffee date with an old war buddy. So dashing back down the stairs, I at least grab a hat & throw a jacket over my robe this time, though my feet are still bare inside my boots, and nab a dog leash off the hook by the door on my way out.
Scanning the fresh snow to count sets of tracks as I go, I do a quick shuffle-walk (there's ice under the snow) down the driveway and pop onto the road. Cricket is about to the neighbor's driveway at this point, walking steadily along, but sees me behind him and turns around, stops, and waits for me. Thank goodness my horses are easy to catch! I can tell that I've only got one horse that's been walking up & down the driveway a couple of times, but that this is the first journey onto the road. Whew! Visions of trying to chase down a herd of loose horses had been dancing through my head. Slipping the leash around his neck, we walk back home, with Cricket gently bumping me every 10 steps or so. He does the head-bump thing when I am asking him to do something he doesn't really want to do, but he complies anyway.
Coming into the barnyard, I scan pastures & do a head count, and in all the pastures I can see, all the residents are accounted for. This leaves one pasture to tally - Cricket, Rhio, Tomas, & Kaos. Their pasture is behind the barn and I can't see any of the other three until I walk Cricket through the barn (door was still firmly shut as I left it last night) and back to the gate (also firmly closed). The three are hanging in a group and turn to look at me and Cricket with great surprise (after all, it's an hour early for food according to their highly accurate internal clocks). Cricket walks into the pasture with one last head bump, and I release him from the leash. Unfortunately for him, I hadn't grabbed the barn jacket in my dash outside and therefore didn't have a single horse treat in the pocket for him, so he had to settle for a pat on the neck and loving praise, "You silly old man, what the heck were you doing?"
Returning to the front of the barn, I follow his tracks around and across the snowbank created by the snow which had slid off the barn roof. The trail includes several piles of poo, indicating that he's probably been wandering for some measure of time, and culminates right at the corner of the run-in shed. He clearly just walked right up & over the electric fence by stepping up onto the snowbank. I am so surprised that Cricket did this, not Rhio, and that none of the other horses cared to follow him. Rhio has a history of getting out (crawling through electric rope or tape fences, which have some "give"), so I would have predicted him to be involved in this escapade.
So much for my little extra sleep this morning! I'm having a cup of tea & blogging while waiting for my extremities to thaw out enough to suit up properly and go feed horses. I'll be taking a shovel with me to fix the escape route.