If you have followed my blog since I started writing it in February, you know that I have a very strong feeling for one horse, Lakota. If you have not read my posts about him, just click on the title and it will take you to them. Lakota. The Gift. Finding Lakota. We seem to have a connection.
The first evening after arriving on the mountain top to camp, I received a message from Matt. We talked for a while about the horses and what I had seen that evening. The last thing Matt said to me was “Lakota is injured.” He told me the area that he was in last when he had seen him the day before. It was dark by now and so I would have to wait until the next morning to look for him. I didn’t sleep.
Lakota is a strong and wise stallion. He lost his band last summer and seemed to take the loss hard. He recovered from that and when I saw him in May he had gained weight and looked really good. I heard that for the last couple weeks he had been following his old band, whom the stallion Grijala had taken from him. I was proud of him and hopeful he would be like the stallion Chino (who is 21 this year). Chino lost his band a couple of years ago and got them back. I wished the same for Lakota. Lakota is 20 this year.
The next morning my friend Linda and I went to look for Lakota. The first band I saw was Lakota’s old band with the stallion Grijalla. They were down in a deep meadow below. I went just a short ways and saw Lakota on a cliff above them.
Then he started to move.
He put no weight on that leg. It was painful to watch him try to walk, but he did. He would pivot around on his back legs and hop with his front leg. He moaned.
At first I thought his leg might be broke. But it appears to be a deep wound down low on his leg.
I felt my tears start, it was so hard to see this strong stallion hurt. I wondered if he would survive this. I was not ready for him to leave this life.
He was about one mile from any water hole to drink from. I doubted he would be able to make it that far. I felt a bit better when I looked around and saw two large mud puddles with water in them that he could get to. I was thankful for the recent rains. He was in an area that had a lot of green forage, so if he was able to eat, he would have a chance. He started to graze a little, but not much. It wasn’t long before he decided to lie down. Would he be able to get back up?
It was really hitting me hard. I know he is a wild horse. They get injured, they die. Life is not easy for them here on this roughed range. But I had seen him recover from the loss of his band last year and I just wished for him to have a few years of contentment and peace before he died. AND I wanted him to be here. I did not want to think what it would be like if he was not here. I watched him sleep for a while and hoped he could get back up. It was difficult to listen to his moans.
I don’t know how this injury happened. We can only guess. My guess is it involved Grijala somehow.
As the tears continued to fall I kept whispering to him “You can do it Lakota, I know you can.” I hoped somehow my words would help him heal.
Then I watched him rise to his feet. It is difficult enough for a horse with four strong legs to get up off the ground, but Lakota did it with only three.
I stayed with him for a while more. We would check on him several times a day while we were there.
The next day when we saw him he was lying down. After a few minutes he got back up. It seemed to be a bit easier than the day before. He seemed to be eating with more intent today. He seemed to be moving just a tiny bit better. He put a very, very, very slight bit of weight on his injured leg. He seemed to be healing.
That evening when I checked on him he had moved more than I had seen him move over the last few days. I was hopeful.
Our last night in the Pryors brought a snow storm and strong winds. It was 31 that morning with 20- 30 mile an hour winds. For a brief few minutes the wind stopped and sun came out. Then the wind started again. I knew we should head down the mountain as soon as we could, while we could. I wanted to check on Lakota one more time.
I was happy for the snow. This meant that Lakota would have plenty of moisture for at least one day. The puddles would fill up more.
I could see his tracks in the snow. It was easy to tell it was him. One of his hoofs would make a drag mark in the snow. We followed his tracks for a while, but never found him. His tracks would go in and out of trees and it was hard to determine which way he had gone.
It was really hard to leave not being able to find him. But I knew we had too. Staying up on the mountain any longer in this weather was not a wise thing to do. Even though it was June, it could snow enough to keep us from being able to get down. So we left.
I cried off and on for Lakota on my drive home. I hoped I will hear soon that he is healing.
I hope I see you soon Lakota. Remember how great you are and try to stay strong.