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July 31, 2019: Raudi’s Accident – the Hardest thing of all to Write About

What happened early this morning went beyond hardship. It was so horrific that I can hardly write about it. But I am hoping that by writing about it that this will put an end to my continuing to obsess about it. It is past, done, and will never, ever happen again.

It was quite early, 8 a.m. or so. Pete had gone to take a dump, toilet paper in hand, and I was taking down the highline. The horses had been hobbled – I was also supposed to be keeping an eye on them. I sort of had an eye on them.

Hrimmi and Tyra hopped over to a far, forest-enclosed grass field. Raudi was a ways behind – she was the grazing cleanup crew. I heard a cracking sound. I ran over to Raudi who had jumped a log. I walked

Horses highlined
Horses highlined

over to the edge of the woods, waiting to talk with Pete about disassembling this particular highline. I heard another crack, saw Raudi flip over, and then go down. I yelled to Pete that Raudi was down – we both ran over to her.

Raudi was on her side, her hobbles were wrapped around a branch coming off of a deadfall log, and her legs were twisted like a pretzel, half underneath her. Pete began tugging at the hobble buckles. I held Raudi’s head, and whimpering, told her not to move, that she was going to be just fine.

Pete somehow got the hobbles undone – I do not know how. It was superhuman effort because the straps were so tight because they were caught up in the branch. Freed, Raudi laid still. I was so scared. Finally, she slowly got up on her feet. I walked her slowly back to the camping area. Her upper extremities were trembling. I checked her out, she had not broken any bones that I could tell, nor did she have any lacerations. I asked Pete to take a look at her as I was walking her – he didn’t see any signs of lameness. She resumed grazing. We retrieved the other two mares, tied them to trees, and resumed packing. Raudi stopped trembling – we decided to head down trail and see how she did. If she showed any signs of duress we’d stop.

The thought then crossed my mind that we had 35 miles left to cover before we returned to so-called civilization. Thirty-five miles is a long ways to go if you have a sick or injured horse. And if, say, Raudi had broke a leg, we would not have been able to get her to safety.

Right at that moment I wanted this trip to be over. My further thought was that I love all these horses dearly, and all the time we’d been out, been living with the thought that something like this could happen. Horses must be restrained when travelling and all types of restraint, hobbling, electric fencing, tie up, are dangerous. My feelings would be way different if I was on a pack trip and using horses that I was unfamiliar with. Rather, my horses and I have been together for a long time – and we are very close.

And Raudi, she is my spirit horse. She has been a once in a lifetime horse, the one who has taught me more than any other. I just was not ready to part company with her. I do know that there will be a time when we part company and I rue that day. But no, right now, I could not deal with this

So we have two days of camping and two days of travel left. The return trip to basecamp is a straight shot, down a well-trod trail. If anything happens to Pete, I’ll be able to find my way back to our starting point. The next guard station is just a mere six miles from where we are now camped.

* * * *

It was a very hot ride today. Fortunately, it was not all that strenuous. We did ride along a canyon ridge, and there was a ledge – but plenty of room on the drop off side. Raudi carried on as if nothing was amiss, so much so that I momentarily forgot about her mishap.

Once again, we had to deal with the uncertainty that comes in seeking a campsite. We found one, near a stagnant creek – I called it the Fetid Creek Campsite. Actually, the bugs weren’t too bad – and the horses seemed to enjoy chomping on the Creekside greens.

Today we passed an outfitter or rather the outfitter passed us – he was leading a string of eight mules and passengers. He said he was on his way to the Chinese Wall, which is way north of where we were. One of the mules was not carrying anyone or anything. Pete said that was an extra mule and surmised that he was leading it just in case anything happens to another one in the pack string. I replied that we did not have an extra – and that I would call it quits if anything happened to one of our mares.

Next: 210. 8/1/19: In Search of the Elusive Perfect Campsite

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