Finding Lakota, May 19, 2012

Sorry for not posting for a while.  I just got back from several days in the Pryors.   It was a wonderful trip and I have a lot to share.   I saw several foals and I promise to update you on all of that and more.  But right now I want to tell you of a special encounter that I had with my favorite horse Lakota.  You can read more about Lakota on my posts : LAKOTA and also THE GIFT.  Click on either of those and it will take you to those posts.

I hesitated sharing this story.  It was a very emotional and moving experience and I was not sure I wanted to share it.  But I decided I should.

The last time I saw Lakota was in March.  I did not see him when I was there in April.  He looked good when I saw him in March, so I knew he had made it through the winter.  I was not worried about him.  But I was relieved to see him.  He will be 20 this year, so I know my time with him may be limited.  I hope he ends up being one of those horses that everyone refers to as ” the oldest horse on the range”.  But I want to cherish every encounter with him and not assume that he will be one of those horses.

I don’t know what it is that makes our connection special.  If anyone has horses or any animals, you may know what I mean.  We are lucky to have these connections with some of the many animals that pass through our lives.  But there are a few that are more special than others.  A “heart” animal, is what some call it.  I have never experienced this with a wild animal, but I believe that Lakota is one of those.

My husband Bill was joining me for this trip.  This would be his third trip to the Pryors.  I was excited to show him Burnt Timber road.  He had never gone up it before.  I will share in another post who else we saw that day.

We parked the ATV and set out to hike down to one of the water guzzlers off of Burnt Timber Road.  I was leading the way.  Just as we started out I heard Bill whispered loudly “Sandy”.  I turned and he pointed to a horse that was just up the road from where we had parked.  I am not sure how I missed seeing him.  But I turned and there stood Lakota.

Lakota, May 19, 2012

What I am about to tell you, many may think it is not true.  But I swear to you it happened as I am about to describe.

Lakota appeared to be napping in the sun.  He did not move his head or look in my direction for the first few minutes.

I slowly walked around him and went across the road on the other side.

I spent several minutes taking photos of him.  It was so good to see him.  He looked great.  What happened next will always stay fresh in my mind.  I can hardly believe it happened.

I whispered very softly,  “Lakota it’s me”.  I did not really expect him to react to that.  But he turned his head towards me and opened his eyes.

Then, he slowly walked across the road towards me

And then he did something that really surprised me…he laid down.

He seemed to go back to sleep.   I relaxed and enjoyed the time I was given with him.

There were no other horses or people around.  It was a very quiet and peaceful time.

After a little while ( I never looked at my watch), he even flopped over on his side.

I stopped taking photos and just sat on the ground and soaked up what was happening.

Lakota only stayed on his side for a few minutes.  Very briefly the thought occurred to me that maybe he was sick.  It seemed so unusual for a wild stallion to lie down in the presence of humans. But he looked good and did not appear to be sick.

After a while he finally got up.

This time when I looked at Lakota I saw that not only had his outside battle wounds from last summer healed completely but it appeared that his inside ones had too.  As you will read in my Lakota post, he lost his entire band to a young stallion named Grijala.

Lakota seemed to be content and relaxed with his new quiet and uneventful life.  Maybe after 15 or more years protecting and fighting for his band it felt good to be on his own with no other horse to worry about except for himself.  It was nice to think that, and I was not sad for him like I was when I saw him in October of last year.

I spent a while longer watching him.  We then decided that we should leave him alone and move on.  I then realized that I was in the wrong spot to hike to the guzzler.  We got in the ATV and slowly moved past Lakota.  He continued to nap in the sun.

I parked the ATV again and we hiked down to the guzzler.  There were no horses there.  It had been so dry here, that most of the water was gone in the guzzler.  There were only a few inches at the very bottom.  I hoped it would rain some more before the hot summer months arrived.

When we got back up to the ATV, I turned and there was Lakota.  Slowly working his way towards us, grazing along the way.  He briefly left and greeted the 4 bachelor boys, Hamlet, Hernado, Inali and Knight.  Then continued down the road.  We once again passed him.  Every time we stopped, I turned back and I could see Lakota making his way towards us.  This went on for a few miles.  I stopped and took some more photos of him and we continued on our way.  We were gone for a couple of hours and were headed back down the road.

As we came to the open area, there was Lakota again.  It seemed like he was waiting for me.  I stopped the ATV and got off.  We looked at each other for about a minute and then he turned and took a path into the woods.

Lakota, May 19, 2012

I was extremely grateful to have the time I had with Lakota.  He seemed relaxed and I think he enjoyed spending some time with me.  Once again, (I said this in my first Lakota post),  I try not to humanize these horses, but sometimes (and it always seems to be with Lakota), I can not help it.  I was filled with love and emotion for this stallion.  I was moved to tears.

I don’t know when I will see Lakota again.  I hope it is soon.

Sandy

ps: Just wanted to let everyone know that at all times I remained at a respectful distance from him.  He is a wild stallion and I respect him and always give him his space.

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