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Missing event horse found after six days alone in the woods

An event horse who went missing after she escaped from her field was found safe and well, six days later.

Jennie Brannigan’s five-year-old Keepsake, known as Peekaboo at home, jumped out of her field on 13 March. It is thought she may have been spooked by the wild hogs that live in the neighbouring Florida woods.

Jennie told H&H her grooms found broken fencing and Peekaboo missing, as well as another horse who was then found, on the Friday morning.

“I thought I’d find her right away but drove round for a few hours and couldn’t find her,” she said. “I had five or six horses competing at an event that day, and three or four students, so it was a bit tough to concentrate when I couldn’t find a horse.”

Jennie, who also rode Peekaboo’s dam and sisters, said the mare is somewhat quirky, and she was not surprised she had not stopped nearby, even with all the other horses in local fields.

“My main concern was a quicksand pond next door and we could see evidence she’d jumped into that field but not out of it,” she said.

“I hired a thermal drone and it found a hotspot, about the size of a horse. I was so upset, but then it turned out it was just sand – and Alexa who works for me then found hoofprints where she’d jumped out of the field.”

Jennie put up posters locally appealing for sightings, and eventually people got in touch, one to say he had heard a horse on the road about 2.30am on 13 March, and another who had seen the mare – who was still wearing part of her distinctive rug – in woods near her home.

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On 19 March, the team went into the woods and found Peekaboo, who was thin and dehydrated but otherwise unharmed.

“I think she’d just run blindly,” Jennie said. “The woods here are very thick, like jungle, and I think she’d run so far in, she got stuck.

“I think she’d hardly eaten or drunk but she’s fine, she even still had all four shoes on when she came home. It’s a crazy story; I don’t know one other horse who would run past six or seven fields with horses in them, into the woods and be alone without food or water.

“But she’s very unusual, which is what made me hold out some hope. She’s a lovely mare.”

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