Re: Hard luck hunt
"thanks for sharing, my favorite part was waking up and seeing another camp a few yards away. i had to apply a couple of ace bandages to my knees just to keep reading the story!"
Yeah, that was my favorite part of that hunt too!
You're right. We were lucky. Anybody using horses and blind to the risks is a fool. The occasional wreck is also nearly inevitable, like you say. I've never had a bad wreck. Meaning I've never had to shoot a horse or had a person seriously hurt. I suppose some folks consider broken arms serious... This wreck was pretty dramatic. Lady went an easy five hundred yards the second time. While the snow caused the wreck, it also saved her life.
Like you said, they get on thier side and they're gone. Several years ago I had to cross a spring snowfield in a steep mountain bowl. I knew better, but I had a lot of faith in my horse. Like you say, some horses got it, some belong in the valley. I angled down the slope about 45 degrees. In the middle the snow deepened and I knew we were in trouble. Continuing, I tried to stay above Rusty and give him room to lunge. When he slipped a bit I tried to hold / help him. This only served to lay him down quicker. After about twenty yards we were really moving. Letting go I managed to scramble upright. After a couple of jumps I broke through and stuck.
I watched in horror as Rusty slid an easy five hundred yards down the open snowfield. About then the slope flattened out for forty yards then dropped off steeply. Rusty slowed as the slope flattened and I prayed he'd stop before the edge. Just as I was starting to hope he'd stop he started struggling. His struggling increased his speed. I watched in horror as he hesitated on the lip, then plunged out of sight.
As I ran down the slope I knew I'd killed him. Long moments later Rusty slid into view again. The drainage narrowed and Rusty slid into one side smashing his head on a boulder. After that he quit struggling. Finally sliding to a stop, he lay still another 7-800 yards below. Feeling numb I slowly worked my way to him. My hope was he was already dead and not laying there shattered. He had rolled like a barrel countless times and turned end over end a dozen times I had seen. I realized I didn't even have a gun to finish him.
When I closed to two hundred yards he lifted his head. My stomach wrenched thinking he was laying there broken up. He started to struggle to stand and I hollered to whoa. Looking around at me he lay still. Forty pounds of snow was packed up under his saddle and he was breathing hoarsely. Yanking the cinches and breastcollar loose I tried to keep him still and fealt his legs with shaking hands. Nothing seemed broken.
At this point the drainage had narrowed to fifteen feet. We were at a flat spot on the snow and ice. Solid ground an easy fifteen feet below. After a few minutes I coaxed Rusty to his feet and led him off the snow onto a little grassy bench. For half an hour I sat next to him while he lay in the grass, a heavy groan rumbling out now and then. Slowly his breathing evened out and the daze went out of his eyes. When he reached for a mouthful of snow, followed by the steady crunch and grind of a mouthful of grass, I fealt a real surge of hope.
Ten minutes later he stood and started grazing. On still shaky legs I retrieved the saddle and blanket. For an hour I lay in the grass my head on the saddle. Rusty cropped grass, seeming to come to himself more and more. I thought about how to get down. There was a trail three steep slick miles below us. There was no going up. Finally, I saddled Rusty loosely and headed down. It was a grind, every inch steep and thick. Here and there, there was no avoiding crossing the deeply buried creek. Each time I prayed. Each time the snow and ice held, and Rusty made it across.
Hours later we were on the trail and climbing a steep section. Rusty wanted to go. So, I eased the cinches tighter and cautiously climbed on. Sore, wet, and tired, we reached the truck an hour later. I was still in awe at what I'd seen. But, I was confident Rusty wasn't seriously injured.
About the borium: First, I'm a farrier. Plain shoes are impossibly slick in snow and ice. Borium or caulks will add tremendously to the bite of each step. However, they'll still slide. Then, they'll catch all at once. Both situations are dangerous and likey to lead to injury. I like borium because it produces great traction on snow, ice, slickrock, and pavement. You can also apply as much or little as you like, adjusting the degree of bite. One reason I find it much better than caulks. Simple rim shoes provide better traction than plain.
With a good mountain horse, like Lady. I believe the borium would have given enough extra traction to allow her to regain her footing.
I've rambled much more than I meant to. Thanks for the reply. Always nice to talk to horse folks, especially hunters.
Last edited by grit; 01-07-2009 at 10:56 PM.