Sunday we turned the horses out in the fenced arena behind the round pen. The arena is good sized and the footing drains well because it isn't very deep. Shallow footing is a problem in the dry months because it doesn't offer much cushion but in the winter it is just fine. We will probably use it more in the winter since the dressage court seems to be a continuous combination of slush and ice.
We haven't made any improvements to the fenced arena since it is used so rarely. Brett has a pile of pea-gravel in the middle that he uses for projects (and which was destroyed by Flash and Lucy, who viewed it as a big toy). The perimeter fence posts are in good shape but the cross rails are broken, missing or rotten for the most part. A stream runs just inside the property border, down the long side and then turns at the far back corner and continues down the short side, before going into drain pipe and emptying out behind the goat area. The short side stream bed is part of the arena and Flash, in particular, enjoyed going in and out of the area during their turnout. On the long side, the arena fence is just inside the stream. There is a long narrow corridor between the property line fence and the arena fence. The arena is carved out of the slope, so the property line fence is high, with a retaining wall that drops to the stream and the arena. There is a top rail of wood fence and white electric tape (not live) nailed to the posts halfway between the top rail and the ground.
When we turned out the boys, we noticed that the white tape was down and flapping in one section so Brett nailed it back to the post. The white tape was also missing at the far end of the arena, where the stream turns the corner. The boys stayed away from there and we didn't think about it twice. We also didn't walk down to the end of the arena and check it out more closely. User error on our part.
After we put Flash and Tex back in the barn, and after Lucy, Pistol and Jackson had romped and rolled, they settled down to the task of looking for grass and weeds. Pistol walked down to the corner -- and walked right through. The top board was down -- which we had not noticed. She started making her way along the stream bed, nibbling as she went, with her round belly giving just a few inches of clearance on either side.
Brett climbed over the tape and into the stream bed (which was very mucky) to back her out. She took one step back and her hind feet sunk above the pasterns. She couldn't move her hind legs, and she started to shake. Backing her out was not going to work.
Brett fished his work knife out of his pocked and cut the tape. Then he turned Pistol's head and neck towards the arena and urged her forward. She pushed her hind feet out and scrambled under the top rail (thank goodness she isn't very tall; none of the other horses would have fit). She stood in the arena, muddy but unhurt, chewing and looking at Brett with gratitude.
Brett nailed the tape back up where she went through and then we evaluated the corner. Brett was able to get tape across that midle and we tied the loose top rail board, with hay twine, to the fence wire that is on the perimeter of the property.
Brett immediately added fixing the fence to his project list. Luckily the posts are in good condition so he will only have to deal with cross rails.