Equine escape: herd of horses break free from North Salem farm
Maybe they were celebrating the Kansas City Chief’s Super Bowl win.
Late Sunday night, a herd of ten horses escaped from their home at Windswept Farm in North Salem and took off on a stroll through town. The horses headed east on Titicus Road, trotting leisurely and slowing down the car that had ended up behind them, the occupants of which were surely wondering if their eyes were deceiving them.
As the horses approached the four-way stop sign at the intersection of Titicus Road and June Road, they passed the home of North Salem resident Chris Evers, who was taking care of his pre-bedtime chores at the home he shares with his wife, Rebecca Bose. Evers, the founder of Animal Embassy, an exotic animal rescue organization, had just finished saying goodnight to the couple’s porcupine and tucking in their pig, Kooney Kooney, when he heard a “clomp clomp” sound. The sound of horses’ hooves is not uncommon in North Salem, but it’s not something one expects to hear at midnight.
“I look out my window and I see a herd of horses trotting in front of my house,” Evers said. He noticed that the horses looked calm, not panicked. But he also noticed the time - nearly midnight - and knew this was likely an unauthorized moonlit stroll.
Evers rushed to the building on his property where he stores food for the myriad animals he cares for. He grabbed a few bags of apples and carrots before calling upstairs to Bose, who was sleeping, to let her know what was happening.
“I yelled up to Rebecca, ‘there’s a herd of horses that just passed the house.’ I had to repeat myself two more times,” Evers said with a chuckle. Bose, who is a curator at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem and a trail warden for the North Salem Bridle Trails Association, shot out of bed and grabbed gear to assist in an equine rescue, including halters and ropes to keep the animals put once they were located.
Bose quickly deduced from Evers’ description of the horses that they likely had escaped from Windswept Farm. The farm is home to a number of “polo ponies” (horses used in the game of polo), and the horses that had trotted down Titicus Road fit the description – they traveled in a herd, had full coats, and were not wearing any blankets. Bose started making calls and before long a team from Windswept arrived on an ATV to search the area.
Over the next two hours, the group led a middle of the night search and rescue effort for the rogue horses in the woods and trail system around Route 116. Bose drove the ATV so that Windswept’s caretaker could be ready to jump out and harness the horses when they were spotted.
“That was the most exciting part,” Evers recalled. “Rebecca is the driver and we are chasing polo ponies in the woods at 2 o’clock in the morning.”
The horses were found near the June Road cemetery. “We got to the cemetery and there they were, grazing. These beautiful animals, all together, sticking in a group. It was a special experience,” Evers said, noting his gratitude that no animals or people were hurt.
Windswept's team immediately began putting halters on the horses to lead them home through the woods. Some of the other horses took off on their own toward home before being caught and haltered. In time, all were steered safely back to their corral.
“Rebecca and I were happy that we were in the right place at the right time, just as others in the horse community were for us when our donkey and horse took their own jaunt up 116 awhile ago. It is nice to be a part of such a supportive community,” Evers said.
By 3:00 a.m., all of the horses were safely back on their property, blissfully oblivious to how lucky they were that their late night ride took them past the home of two local animal experts. “Seeing those incredible animals trotting down 116, in tight formation, was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen,” said Evers, “and I have seen a thing or two.”