Friesian horse Mariska has the Houdini touch


Her name is Mariska, but her owners may be tempted to rename her Houdini.

Mariska makes good her escape.
Mariska makes good her escape.

Mariska, a Friesian mare, has developed a rare talent that allows her to escape from her stables. Not content to free only herself, she is more than happy to spring loose a mate or two.

Mariska is a happy resident of Misty Meadows Farm, in Midland, Michigan, run by Sandy Donem and her husband, Don.

She shares the farm with three other Friesians, two cats, six chickens, and there is word that a Friesian foal is on its way.

Writing on her website, Sandy says the video has been viewed in 167 countries since going online, and she has enjoyed reading the many comments about Mariska’s escape skills.

She said viewers had asked questions about the video, including the mystery around why Mariska, after escaping her stall, wandered past the occupied stall next to her before releasing the horse from the next stall.

“The number one question is why does she not let the horse in the first stall out?

“Well, I can’t be sure, but I think it was because it was Trienke in that stall. Trienke is her mother and the boss mare. She probably did not think she could shoo Trienke out of her stall to get to the stall window on the inside of the barn. So she moves on looking for the best escape route. Why did she let Wietse out on her way? Your guess is as good as mine, she likes the company in the grain room and later out on the lawn is our best guess.”

She said they did not teach Mariska to unlatch her stables.

“Why would we? … It makes life such a challenge for us. Especially as we have only to forget just one of the backup latches or chains and she finds the weak link! She checks constantly for a way out.

“Mariska has picked this up on her own over a period of time. She started as a six-month-old, grabbing the tabs on our zippers and zipping them up and down, went to constantly pulling out my hair ties and trying to eat them, even grabbed the jingle bell off the antlers I was trying to get pictures of her in, and ate it. That was an embarrassing call to the vet!

“Next she went to pushing and or pulling all the paddock gates open or closed.”

So how do the Donems keep her in?

“Well, as you could see in the video, we have added bottom latches to the outside of the half stall. And we drilled holes into the bar on the inside stall doors where we put a pin in the bar that will not allow the bar to raise up.”

That works fine, unless they forget to use one of the backups. Then, the great Houdini horse shows her skills …

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One thought on “Friesian horse Mariska has the Houdini touch

  • January 25, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    My sister’s horse, Grey Minstrel, was exactly the same.
    We eventually foxed him by putting a trigger hook in the latch – didn’t figure that out!


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