Zorro and I went on another camping trip with the Ten Mile Drivers this weekend. I made a pact with Hubby and said I would go up and camp Friday afternoon/night and come home Saturday evening. We have a TON of work to get done around here and he has the next week off so we can get going on it. He was chomping at the bit to get started and not too happy to have to postpone by a day, but agreed that I should go camping. And this trip was closer to home… we were camping at Cottonwood Campsite in the Gravelies! I love the Gravelies so was excited to take Zorro and enjoy the “weekend”.
Most of the road up there is a pretty decent gravel road, but the end was a bit rough. Made for a bit of a slower drive! When we got there I unloaded Zorro and put up the high line. I had to tie off to the Tahoe and a tree as there weren’t too many trees up there and I love to be close to him when he is high lined. Molly and I sleep in the back of the Tahoe on a blow up mattress and foam mattress toppers. It’s so comfy!
There were a few members there but while we waited for more to show up, Zorro and I explored the creek.
Molly wasn’t expecting to get up the camp site until late, but was making good time and got there with daylight to spare so we hitched up and went for a quick drive!
Gracie looks so cute in her unicorn horn! We were out until after dark. The temperatures dropped quite a bit, making it a very chilly night sleeping in the Tahoe! My Hyperbike was covered in frost when I woke up. And the ponies were very hungry. I couldn’t wait for that first cup of coffee!
We had our breakfast and then everyone got hitched, or saddled up and off we went!
It’s so beautiful up there!
It’s amazing how fast a day like today can change. Not far into our ride we had to go through a gate. There was a cattle guard across the road with a wire gate beside it. One of the guys that was riding in a wagon was manning the gate and as we all go through a gate we pull forward so the vehicle behind us can also get through the gate. Everyone stops and waits until the gate is shut and the gate opener is back on a vehicle. This way none of the horses get anxious about being left behind. It’s a safety precaution. We are always trying our best to keep everyone safe.
Today in just a few seconds all hell broke loose. The Fjord team had gone off the side of the road and up a little hill. When it was time to come back down to the road their marathon vehicle got jack knifed. And before we could blink the vehicle tipped over, spooked the Fjord team and they bolted.
They were running straight towards Molly, Gracie, Zorro and I but turned and took on the cattle guard instead. The bigger of the two leapt the cattle guard, dragging the smaller gelding across AND NEITHER OF THE HORSES WERE INJURED IN THE CATTLE GUARD!!
As they crossed it, they took a hard right, which righted the vehicle but also tossed the dog and the husband off the vehicle while the driver disappeared from sight. The dog leaped up and took off for the vehicle so I knew then, the driver was still with it.
The Fjords turned again and ran straight into a big juniper bush that was grown into a barbed wire fence. The fence stopped their flight and that was when everything started up again. One of the outriders tossed her reins to me, I hopped out off the bike, Molly dropped her bike off of Gracie and tossed me her lines and they ran to the horses. Another outrider was already heading the two horses and the men had leapt off the other vehicles and were busy trying to untangle the driver who was wrapped in her lines and under the front wheel of the vehicle.
–>All of the horses were quiet and calm during this entire thing. A few of the horses didn’t quite know what to do when the team was on the run but they all held it together. During the aftermath, the rushing around, cutting the fence, unhitching the team, and the hustle and bustle that goes with a wreck of this type, the horses stood calmly.
As the Fjords hit that bush I looked up in time to see a Forest Service truck come around the corner and pull up to us. I couldn’t believe it! We did NOT have any cell service and would have had to drive several miles to the nearest ranch to call 911. We hadn’t seen a Forest Service person anywhere and exactly when we needed him he appeared. He had a radio and training and jumped straight to it! He radioed for an ambulance and proceeded to check the driver over. She never lost consciousness and was talking, but they kept her still for fear of a head/neck injury.
The accident happened around 11:15 or so, about 2.5 miles into our drive. We were back at the campsite by 12:30. It was amazing how quickly both an ambulance and the Life Flight helicopter were on site. Both flew up from Idaho. We boogied all the driving horses, including the Fjord team who were ponied off the back of one of the wagons, out of there before the helicopter landed and headed back down the mountain. We did encounter the ambulance but all the horses (and mules!) did great. Two of the outrider horses were present when the helicopter landed and took off again and I hear they handled it very well.
The driver has a broken wrist, a broken rib and some gnarly road rash but SHE IS ALRIGHT! Her team had minor cuts and scratches but, THEY ARE ALRIGHT. Her husband was doing alright as well, though very banged up. The dog was fine as well, but very stressed.
I can’t believe how quickly this all happened. I can’t believe the timing of the Forest Service person. I can’t believe those Fjords were able to clear that cattle guard. And after looking at the surrounding area, I can’t believe how very lucky she is that they chose the path they did. They missed the piles of rock and sage bushes that were EVERYWHERE up there. The entire thing was a miracle.
I have to commend the Ten Mile Drivers as well. Everyone stayed 100% calm and competent. They sprang into instant action and everyone had a job they performed wonderfully.
The outriders are invaluable at times like these. All of these ladies were awesome. The training of the horses involved and the horses and mules watching was to be commended as well. Even after all of that, those Fjords were perfect gentleman and stood calmly, while tangled in barbed wire and stuck in a bush, harness and ropes digging into them, for the people to get them loose. They did not thrash or fidget or whinny. They were calm as can be.
The mules stood tied to trees during the entire rescue and never moved. The outrider horses were so mannerly while being held by myself and the other outrider. Our ponies were total rock stars. They never even tried to eat the grass but cocked a foot and took a nap.
I truly think that horses know when things have gone wrong. They will either make things worse, or their training will kick in and they will stay calm and take a nap. I was so pleased with all the horses involved today. This could have gone so so wrong in so many ways.
This is a good lesson for us to keep in mind. These things can happen even with the calmest and most well trained horses. Are you prepared if things go south? We had wire cutters, knives, first aid kits, water, extra jackets, halters and lead ropes. We were able to handle the situation – though were very grateful for the Forest Service guy’s radio!!