Spring thaws and heavy rains would often cause the winding creek to overflow its banks, making it necessary for the county to pour a concrete high water bridge on this rarely traveled road. The concrete allowed local traffic to ford the creek and continue on their way – unless, of course, the mud made the road impassable! No one lived on that road, and very few vehicles were on it, but the creek provided a great place for trail rides! Our neighbors would often see deer nestled down in the underbrush, or squirrels scampering from tree to tree overhead while riding their horses through this area. Today was no different!
It was a chilly day in early March, as the sunshine was trying to bring some welcome warmth to the earth. It had been a long winter, and at the first hint of Spring, our neighbors decided to saddle up some of their horses for a trail ride. They enjoyed sharing their horses and invited my guys to join them on today’s ride.
Though we lived in the country, we didn’t have horses – until recently! Our 16-year old son, Travis, worked out a deal to buy our neighbors’ adopted Mustang, Cherokee. Travis had learned a lot about horses from Bruce and Bev, and seemed to be a natural. He had a keen understanding for horses, and a natural ability to work with and train horses. He’d been working with Cherokee a lot at home, and spent almost as much time on horseback as anywhere else!
My husband was riding one of our neighbors’ horses – Lad – their much-loved, older horse which was often the one they picked for a novice rider like Jim. He was their biggest horse, and was both trustworthy and mild-mannered. With horses saddled, they headed out for a trail ride along the creek. It was a trail they took many times with their horses. The horses were familiar with this trail.
It hadn’t been a very wet winter, but the creek was almost up to the top of the concrete, and part of the road had washed out near the concrete’s edge. As Lad followed the other three, he got too close and his back leg slipped off into the creek!…followed quickly by the rest of him! Jim quickly scrambled off, and hollered at the others for help. Lad’s front feet, and belly were on the concrete, but his back legs were dangling off the bridge, into the water. Not a good position for a horse.
The scene was intense. Lad was in distress, and the longer he was stuck, the worse it got. He was in real danger of not surviving, with his breathing becoming shallow and labored, and his eyes becoming glassy. They couldn’t push his front end off the concrete, because a t-post was in the way – his rump was up against the creek bank. They had no time to get help.
All the coaxing in the world didn’t help. Lad was stuck! With his rump against the creek bank, a t-post prevented them from pushing his front end off the concrete. Bruce, an amputee with an electronic prosthetic leg, couldn’t get in the water. If Lad didn’t get free soon, he wouldn’t survive, so Travis jumped in the thigh-high frigid water and worked to free Lad. After many attempts, he was finally able to pull one of Lad’s legs up, and put it on the concrete, but one leg remained. Travis squatted down again in the now murky, and increasingly cold, water to pull on his other hoof. It was an exhausting, and dangerous task. Lad was a big horse, and an old horse. Finally, though, Lad lay on his side on the concrete bridge. Wet. Cold. And, nearing exhaustion. Travis was in much the same condition. For a few minutes, the thankful riders just sat, realizing just how close to disaster they had been.
With Bruce leading the way on his horse, the other three followed behind, leading their horses back to the barn where Lad would surely get some extra pampering! Travis, was thoroughly soaked and with every step, his wet socks squished inside his wet boots. Finally, his cold feet would no longer let him walk, so he climbed on Cherokee for the rest of the way.
Somehow, the trail ride hadn’t been all they had anticipated. But, they were all thankful for the outcome! Travis was exhausted, but grateful he was able to save his four-legged friend. This day could have ended much differently had it not been for the cool head, quick thinking, and persistence of one young man. He, too, got some extra pampering once he was home, by his thankful and proud mom – me!