Horse Survives On Its Own For 6 Weeks In Wyoming Wilderness
In a race against the weather this last fall a young horse named Valentine laid down and was left behind. Men had been leading horses out of a base camp for hunting and fishing excursions when the horse appeared too ill to go on.
The men returned the next day to help her, but she had wondered into the Wyoming wilderness. Now six weeks later the 6-year-old mare was spotted by a worker and her owners have helped guide the horse out through a storm and deep December snow.
While the horse battled harsh winter conditions, she also was in the middle of grizzly bear country and being the domesticated animal that she had become, had to find food on her own to survive.
Even more of a miracle though was that Valentine didn’t need any veterinary care. Despite the miracle, a fervent debate among residents over whether the outfitting company did the right thing leaving the horse, did all it could to find her or should have put her down to spare her suffering broke out as news of her finding surfaced.
Such a debate that a state criminal investigation aimed towards the outfitter’s actions has now been launched.
B.J. hill owns Swift Creek Outfitters and the horse. He told the Associated Press that he has received a number of angry phone calls from across the country.
“People are so quick to judge,” Hill said in a telephone interview from his ranch to the AP. “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 owns 125 horses and said that Valentine is doing well and is quite happy. He said it is not clear as to when she got sick during the departure from the camp.
Valentine survived on grass until the snow fell, then she would paw at the powder to get the food underneath it.
Many residents argue Valentine should’ve been put down because it is humane to put down a horse that’s severely injured or disabled by old age. From the information provided it sounded as if the mare was near death.
But Hill says people do not know the whole story and attempts to find her over the following few weeks provided fruitless. The the harsh winter came and the snow piled up by foot.
In mid-December a working grooming the trails in the Bridge-Teton National Forest spotted Valentine and called the U.S. Forest Service.
Hill said the worker and his son spent nine hours walking Valentine back home and out of the wild.
“She was quite a ways from where she went down,” Hill said to the AP. “She went way down country.”
The Wyoming Board of Livestock is leading the investigation. They are looking at what happened and why the wranglers left her. Senior criminal investigator Ken Richardson said told the AP said it would take about two weeks to complete the review.
There are no previous wrong doings by Swift Creek Outfitters.