The plan was a good one. A nice short overnight camping trip but it all came to a halt with one wrong step. Sunday morning I received my usual morning greeting from the carrot crew and I served them breakfast. The trailer was hooked up, all the gear was loaded, and Shar loaded readily into the trailer for our adventure. I chose her as I wanted a simple easy overnight trip and she was the most experienced and really loves an adventure. At 9 o'clock we were underway and soon we exited the freeway only to be greeted by a sign that the bridge that we needed to cross was closed. Well, that was alright. The one-way trip would turn into a round trip. We arrived at the trailhead, unloaded, saddled and packed up.
At 10:45 we were underway and what a great ride it was. She was happily trucking down the trail and instead of the wild mare of old, I found she had truly matured into a free moving, wonderful trail horse. She used to be an energetic but fully controllable girl and now I could ride without holding the reins and it was a very relaxing and enjoyable ride. the day promised to be a hot one but I figured to laying in my hammock by one o'clock or so.
The trail was well marked and in fine condition but started to get a bit rougher. She is an excellent trail horse so while I would have turned around with any of the other horses I knew she could handle it. About a mile farther it was a bit rougher so I dismounted and led her. We were only about a half mile from our destination when the unthinkable happened. The trail was narrow and on a fairly steep hillside. On the downhill side was the Sacramento River and it was deep at this bank and moving fairly swiftly. I was in front of her stepping over a rock when she decided to go around it on the downhill side. The soft bank gave way and down she went. She tried to get her footing and toppled onto a horse size rock landing with her head downhill, head and front feet to the left and hind feet up in the air. She struggled to get up, slid father down the rock, and wedged the saddle and pack between the rocks. I was sure I'd lost her. I leaped down and laid over her to calm her down. Unstrapping the girth I tossed it free and removed the hackamore that was also tied to the saddle horn. Slipping on her halter I went around to the other side of the horse and tried to roll her off the rock. She, of course, struggled to get up, sticking one hoof through the hackamore headstall, slid down the rock and onto another lower rock, pivoted around and was stopped with one her left front hoof hooked to the hackamore still tied to the saddle wedged between the rocks. Sure once more that there was no way she could survive this I hustled to her once more and cut the headstall. Once again she slid down the rock onto another. Now I had a glimmer of hope. Directly below her was a flat stretch with lots of weeds and smaller normal sized rocks. If she landed in this area, had no serious injuries, and didn't continue over the edge into the river, we had a chance. She started to struggle once again and down she went with me siding right with her hoping I could stop her momentum when she landed. The yellow thing in the picture is the broken top from the fly spray and is where she was laying first.
That plan worked out and she was standing on her feet. No legs held up and I took that as a good sign. I approached her and found her scraped up quite a bit but was basically not seriously injured. I left her there and walked down the area finding that it was actually a way out to the trail home. She came up to me, I took the lead rope and we started out. I tripped, I'm not as young as I used to be, fell, and she pulled the rope from my hand. Pain shot through my left hand and I found serious rope burns. When I got them I'm not sure, as I'm also not sure about my sore scraped knees, banged up shins, and torn pants.
Shar, now free, unbelievably trotted uphill to the trail and turned toward home. Me I'm exhausted so I sat down to contemplate my next move. I came up with a plan so I headed to the trail, turned left, and back to the scene of the accident. Trying to catch a loose horse could be an adventure so I hid the saddle and packs. Filling the saddlebags with all my water, food, and valuables, I started to see if I could find Shar. About a quarter of a mile down the trail she was waiting for me with a nicker, just standing in the middle of the trail. Grateful to see her as well we shared a moment together then I gave her a thorough inspection. We were the luckiest pair in the world. I wouldn't be able to bring the pack and saddle all the way to her so I took her partway back and tied her to a tree. Retrieving the gear and as I saddled her up, I considered our situation. Water for Shar was now a critical situation, we had of people water and food and for both of us. It was now over 100 degrees and there was no place for me to get down to the river, let alone a horse. The logical thing to do was abort the mission and go home, so that's what we did. It was a four-mile walk out and I had difficulty walking uphill with my knees. Shar wouldn't walk downhill with me mounted and was reluctant to do so on the flat ground but was fine uphill. The bruises on her would be something awful so we worked together. There were only three hills I needed help with and they weren't really all that steep or long so I walked the rest of the way. She apparently learned her lesson well as she stayed right behind me all the way, breathing on my arm. Suddenly my Cel phone rang. I dug it out of the pack and saw it was a wrong number, but I had service. I placed a call to Pam and left a message. The end came suddenly and I was unsure if the call went through. I tried again but had no service. As we made progress, I tried a few times more when suddenly it went through. I left a quick message and hoped it got through before service drifted again. I judged it to be another 2 hours before we would reach our destination. There were a few rest stops and suddenly my phone rang again, it was Pam! I heard her say "Hello?" but nothing more. The service was gone and we had just under an hour to go I didn't know it at the time but she had received a partial message from me and tried to get hold of me to confirm the pickup place. Receiving no contact with her call, she rushed out, jumped in the rig, and was on her way. When I came to our destination, I tied Shar to a tie rail, stripped the gear from her, grabbed a collapsible bucket and tried to get to the river for water. Unsecufully, I returned to Shar and laid down for a bit. Shortly, Pam arrived and we keep water in the trailer so Shar finally had a good drink, Slowly at first, then more.
This is a picture of the size of the rocks we were dealing with.
This morning Shar is one sore girl, good appetite and attitude, much like her rider. Not the camping trip I had planned but all it takes is one wrong step. No more rough trails for me that's for sure. Lucky to be in one piece.