Gone Outdoors

How to Repel Horses

by Rena Sherwood

Since horses are prey animals, they are easily startled and be scared off just by waving your arms and shouting. But if you set up camp where wild horses are around (like on Assateague Island), they will fearlessly tramp through your supplies looking for food, whether you are there or not. When a horse panics, they can run anywhere, including over you. You must be ready to move before you attempt any repellent technique with sounds, which work better than leaving a smell the horse would avoid.

Keep your camp as tidy as possible without leaving any food out. Although, many horses have learned that wherever humans are, food is inevitably nearby.

Before you leave your camp, set up the lion or wolf silhouette against your tent or an open umbrella wherever you can. Hanging it over your tent would be great if you are sure it will stay in place. Weigh it down on the ground with rocks if necessary. Horses tend to be scared of the sight of open umbrellas or the outline of a carnivorous animal, but this does not scare away all horses.

Stand still as soon as you see a horse in your camp. You want to be far enough away from the horse to have a good running start in case the horse charges you. Shout at the horse loudly to get his or her attention. Clap your hands if necessary. If the horse looks at you, wave your arms.

Try more noises if the horse doesn't move off immediately. Bark, growl, mimic a whip crack, clap your hands or swear really loudly. These noises tend to be the ones that horses find the most frightening. The horse or pony should move off at a gallop or a walk.

Repair any damage the horse or pony has done to your camp.

Items you will need
  • Tidy camp
  • Loud voice
  • Quick feet
  • Open umbrella (weighed down)
  • Silhouette of a lion or wolf (optional)

Tips

  • Particular smells do seem to make horses stay away--if you can get a hold of them. These smells include lion, tiger or wolf dung, fresh blood and bone and butyric acid. However, the butyric acid smells like vomit, so you might be better off not trying to use it.
  • A lot of horses are not afraid of the smell of a campfire, either, despite some old wives' tales.

Warnings

  • Don't feed wild horses or ponies people food. This encourages them to bite. Also, people food usually can upset their digestive systems.
  • Don't lure wild horses or ponies over to your car to feed them. They learn to beg by roadsides and can die from getting hit by a car or truck.
  • Never sneak up on a horse or pony. They might run over you in fear.

About the Author

Rena Sherwood is a writer and Peter Gabriel fan who has lived in America and England. She has studied animals most of her life through direct observation and maintaining a personal library about pets. She has earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Delaware County Community College and a bachelor's degree in English from Millersville University.

Photo Credits

  • Image from StockXChng