Loose horses. We have two sets of horses near us, both have gotten out, one batch does it a LOT.
The frequent leavers generally head to other horses although they have traveled as far as two miles via the road, where they ended up at another horse place. One is an uncastrated mini jack that is now adult and he is looking for mares, his pasturemate is a pony mare, she follows him. They do show up at our place where we share a fenceline with two mares and have decent pasture, hay etc.
The other ones are a group of three, one mare has gotten out several times, she comes to our house and I’m not sure if she’s looking for the intact donkey or the pony still is producing enough testosterone to be interesting. She knocked down the solar charged tape fence not too long ago and let the rest of them out, this was while we were still in the dormant grass stage and their pasture was a little bare. They headed as a group around their pasture to the large acreage behind them. They didn’t come up the road to our house or across the neighbor’s lawn, they didn’t cross the creek to the acreage over there, they went to the pretty nice looking grass in the old cow pasture, and they took FOREVER to locate and then catch. Their owner came over to our house with his green trail horse, that had been stabled with the escapees at his other house, and got the pony to calling, but the wind was blowing the wrong way I think so we got no neighing in return. I kept an eye out for manure on or near the road, if there are no other horses around that’s a giveaway, and they were finally found about three days later once there was a large enough group to really comb that big cow pasture (it’s somewhere around 75 acres with wooded ravines and stuff). They actually spotted them by glassing, as if they were hunting deer. The horses moved away from the owner but another searcher on foot was able to entice one and the rest were taken up by other searchers who converged on the site.
I’ve gone looking for cows before and it’s amazing how fast they can vanish in the woods. Everybody needs to take their time, watch for hoofprints and piles of manure, using google earth and looking at the lay of the land if it isn’t all fenced off will give logical spots they might go. For example the horses could have followed the road to our house - but there is no grass and no reason. They could have followed the tractor trail to the neighbor’s and then to our house but it goes through the woods, the grass isn’t very tasty for a quarter of a mile. The road parallels a creek that is wooded, the road goes through the woods, but outside their pasture is a grassy sunny right of way for the road, which goes to the neighbors grassy track up to his hunting camp in a clearing, which abuts this huge cow pasture acreage that is being used now as hunting land so the fences are all pierced for deer travel, AND get this, the guy is growing corn in a feed lot for the deer. Buffet anyone?
Ours have made two short forays over the neighbor across the street. No clue why, but I think the pony does it on purpose to make us run to the barn and bring the feed buckets out.