Our intention was, of course, to take the short way. But then God intervened and sent us a friendly local game warden. He informed us that the short way around Lake Vallecito was blocked by several private road gates because of hunting season and we would not be able to get through. That saved us some serious backtracking miles- but meant we had to take the long way around the lake. It was a pretty ride, but we were overwhelmed by the change as there had been a huge forest fire there the year after we worked at a guest ranch by the lake. We had also never seen the lake in the fall after they let water out for irrigation, so it was extremely low and looked very different from our memories. This did, however, create a shortcut for us, as there was a dry enough path through the lake-bed that we were able to ride across it and save a mile or two.
The trailhead we were aiming for was one we had used in our time at that guest ranch for the starting point of some of our more memorable pack trips. The scenery was stunning and I couldn’t wait to go down this trail! We were informed by another trail user that the weather forecast was still looking good for us, so we proceeded with excitement.
Then we met a distraught man on the trail. He was standing there holding an obviously sick and very beat up horse. We stopped to see if we could help and he told us that he had owned the horse only a few weeks and that it’s leg had just buckled underneath it and it had rolled down a short hillside and was stuck upside down. He didn’t know what to do and had walked to the truck to get his gun figuring the horse would be dead when he got back anyhow- but to his surprise- it had a will to fight for its life and it was standing up in the trial. The man’s friends continued on their hunt and left him by himself to try to walk the horse to his trailer to get it to a vet, but he was having difficulty. I looked the horse over- no obvious broken bones, no serious bleeding though it would need stitches in a number of places- but it was obviously colicing. So we got out our first aid kit for the horse, gave it some medicine, then showed him how to get a colicing horse moving (the vital thing to do to keep it alive. Colic is a serious stomach ache that has many causes and is the number one killer of horses.) We watched as he headed down the trail to make sure he’d be ok, and it was quickly obvious that he needed help keeping that horse moving. So I held our horses while Richard was gone for nearly an hour helping the man get his horse out of the woods and into his trailer. He reported to me that the horse was doing much better when the man drove off after promising to let us know how the horse did, but we have not heard from him yet. We will let you know if we find out. That was a pretty sobering moment to see a horse that took a fraction of a fall that Tiska, Satchmo, and Richard did so many months ago, yet it came out in much worse condition. We are so grateful for God’s protection in that incident.