- December 13, 2015
- Posted by Mary Ward, Youth Expedition Member
Slowly, the great flaming circle crested the mountains and began to burn away the mist from Flathead Lake and painted the waters a soft orange as we skimmed along the undisturbed surface on our way to Wild Horse Island. Our mission was to locate and capture the hidden metal snakes (old fencing wire) that were coiled beneath cloaks of grass and moss, waiting to strike their unsuspecting victim.
Kayla and I were sent off to battle the wire that rested near to the island’s famous inhabitants, the six “wild” horses. As Kayla and I fought with the wire snakes, the horses gathered beneath the spotted shade of a pine which made their colors more difficult to discern. After a time, they started to wander over toward where we were working on the side of a hill.
We paused our assault and admired the creatures. The sun hung high in the azure skies and made the horses pelts gleam. Four of them were jet black and the oldest was a deep brown, almost the color of wet earth. As for the sixth, it was a shock to see her against the darkness of the others. She was a beautiful paint, white with light brown spots and a soft pink nose.
With a glance in their direction every now and then we got back to work with Kayla keeping an eye on the horses who were a mere one hundred feet away. It was a beautiful morning and very peaceful with the only sounds being the soft voice of the wind through the pines and prairie-like grass, as well as the chirping of the occasional bird.
Suddenly, Kayla starts hitting the helmet I’m wearing like a mad woman, shattering the illusion of calm. I look up and see not one but seven full grown male big horned sheep lined up on the top of the hill above us just in time to watch them as they begin to charge towards us. Frantically, we began to scramble out of their way only to find ourselves blocked in on one flank by the horses. Quickly we change directions and back up so that we can keep an eye on the thundering beasts, but forget to watch our footing so we nearly did a painful Gravity Check while escaping being trampled.
The sheep ran right past us and made a beeline for the group of females we spotted earlier. We looked at each other and laughed with disbelief. If we hadn’t moved, our crew would have found us trampled. As it turned out, we didn’t get all the fun. Two others on our team, Michael and Daniel, nearly got squashed beneath a fury of hooves as well.
This went on for nearly an hour until finally we were able to draw the horses away from our tools after I got backed into a tree by the paint. I was rescuing some item or another when the paint took notice of me and headed in my direction. I slowly rose into a crouch and began to back away with my hand outstretched in front of me and talked soothingly, or so I hoped, to the horse. I think I scared a few members of my crew quite a bit as I unknowingly backed into a tree and got my hair tangled with the lower branches.
The paint kept plodding forward but wasn’t acting aggressive so I wasn’t too worried. As I struggled to free my hair, the paint stopped a few feet away from me. Wary of startling her I held my hands back out in front of me and held a nice little, if one-sided, conversation with her. Apparently she liked me as she came forward and rested her soft, pink nose on my hand. I sucked in a quick breath and then smiled. She was beautiful. But I knew I had to go so I wriggled loose and continued my retreat, but she kept following me! It sure must have looked odd. After a bit of following me she lost interest and I was able to finish retrieving our tools so we could get back to work.
The horses kept us from work for about an hour and a half and stuck around for the rest of the day. We even named them all. The paint we called Rain and the wise old horse we named Tyson. At first we figured the black horses were all the same until we saw the white markings. The one with a large white spot on his forehead was Everett and the one with the smaller dot was Shadow. The third black horse had a little white sock on his back right hind leg so we decided that one would be Ninja. The last one was a pure midnight black so he got the title of Coal.
So much for a “boring” day of tangling with the rumored vicious metal snake infestation of Wild Horse Island.
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