CHEYENNE, WYO. — On a 16-mile trek off a mountain, a young horse lay down — she could not go another step. The mare looked deathly ill to the men leading a train of horses out of a base camp for hunting and fishing excursions.
In a race against the weather last fall, they left behind the horse they named Valentine to get the rest of the animals down. When they went back for her the next day, she had vanished into the vast Wyoming wilderness.
Six weeks later, a worker spotted the 6-year-old mare, and her owners helped guide the healthy horse out through a storm and deep December snow. Not only is this grizzly bear country, a domesticated animal like Valentine had to find food and survive the harsh winter conditions.
She didn’t even need veterinary care. But when the story spread last week in the horse-loving resort region of Jackson Hole, it unleashed a fervent debate among residents over whether the outfitting company did the right thing in leaving the horse, did all it could to find her or should have put her down to spare her suffering.
It has culminated in a state criminal investigation that aims to find out if the outfitter’s actions were cruel or helped lead to what some call the miraculous survival of an animal that’s iconic in the American West.
B.J. Hill, who owns Swift Creek Outfitters and the horse, said he has received angry phone calls from across the country.
“People are so quick to judge,” Hill said in a telephone interview from his ranch. “Who knows what’s going to happen. It’s not over with yet. We’re just trying to survive the moment that our horse is home.”
Hill, who owns 125 horses, said Valentine is doing well and is happy. It’s unclear why she got sick.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Edgar’s Mission and the folks at Horse Shepherd Rehabilitation Center, an orphaned foal named Custard has been given a second chance to grow up with a loving mother. For those of you who are meeting Custard for the first time, here is a little background about our hero.
Custard’s mother is a thoroughbred mare who was ripped away from her baby and forced to foster another foal. Custard was only two-and-a-half weeks old when this happened. This is common practice in many facets of the husbandry industry and one that leaves many animals without mothers.
Thankfully Edgar’s Mission took charge of Custard and got in touch with the Horse Shepherd Rehabilitation Center. As luck would have it, the rehabilitation center had a mare who had recently lost her own foal to natural causes. When we left Custard, she was on her way to meet Meg in the hopes that she and her foster mother would accept each other.
Custard and Edgars Mission Director Pam Ahern (pictured at top) stepped in to give Custard the reassurance and love she needed until a long-term home could be found for the foal. Thanks to the loving team at Horse Shepherd Equine Sanctuary, she was able to be bonded with foster mare, Megs, who is now giving her everything she needs to grow into a happy and healthy horse.
There are so many wonderful examples of people rallying together to help one another and animals threatened by the flood waters in the Houston, Texas area. They have a great community there and it warms my heart to see their caring and courage on display. Our prayers are with you.
HOUSTON – Emergency responders helped to rescue nearly 100 horses trapped in high water near a Houston-area stable where flooding nearly reached the roofs of some buildings.
People driving by on a road near the flooding around Cypress Trails Equestrian Center on Cypresswood Drive stopped to yell encouragement to animals struggling to keep their heads above water Monday.
The horses were seen trying to get over what appeared to be a flood-inundated fence in the area near Cypress Creek.
Harris County officials called the Texas Animal Health Commission to get a rescue team to the stables just north of George Bush Intercontinental Airport. A number of roads near the airport were flooded Monday.
Around 2 p.m. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett posted this updated to his Facebook page:
For those of you that may have seen the news reports of horses trapped in the water at Cypress Trails Equestrian Center, all but a few of the horses have been rescued or have been seen on higher ground. 3 or 4 are still loose but don’t appear to be in grave danger.
Witnesses say there are still residents swimming and wading through high water in the area to help the remaining horses.