The sun is just starting to rise. You’re the first one up, the fire is going and you turn the stock out to graze, you turn and pour that first awaited cup. As you turn back to enjoy the sunrise, that big hot cup of joe, and the beauty of grazing horses in that glorious meadow you picked to make camp in…you realize you’re all alone… Where did they go?, they couldn’t have left!!! They were just here. They couldn’t have disappeared that quick. I only poured coffee…one cup of coffee, just one cup!!! What the ……you’re yelling their names, you have now woken everyone up in camp. You retell the story and you keep saying I only poured one cup, just one cup.
So, what’s next? The search begins… Some folks go and become trackers some go back to the fire and pour another cup hoping their faithful steed will wonder back through camp. All I know is we at Trailhead Supply get multiple calls every packing season about lost stock. I myself have found, or I should say someone’s stock has found me numerous times in the back country. The Bob Marshall Wilderness is over a million and a half acres, that’s a lot of real-estate to look for a lost horse or mule. Most of the time they’ll wander back to camp or back down the trail to your horse trailer, but not always. One day I turned around in the saddle to check my pack string, about a mile from the trailhead, I had 3 extra horses in the string they stayed with me to my trailer. After I loaded I tied them to a hitch rail and as I drove by the forest service office I told them along with asking if they could put them in their corral. The next week on my way back I stopped and asked if they had found the owner of the horses. They did, the owners were looking for them 100 miles away from where they found me…
In the event you can’t find your lost horse or horses who do you tell? For starters the land manager of the land you’re riding on. Forest Service, BLM, State, etc. Live Stock or Brand Inspector, local tack shops, post on social media, and animal control, Yes! the dog catcher there is a good chance someone will see or find a lost horse that doesn’t know about horses so they call the folks they know. Lost horses just don’t get lost in the back-country. Gates get left open all the time and down the street they go. Do us all a favor and know what your animal looks like, it is not just brown. There is a lot to learn when traveling in the back country and if you are new to all this don’t be embarrassed to ask how to safely tie up your horse. Have a great summer!
See you on the trail.
PS- have you ever lost or found a horse or mule? Share your stories and tips in the comments!