I just experienced quite possibly the scariest day of my life, aside from my dad's motorcycle accident. I honestly believed for a time that my horse was going to die and there was nothing I could do about it.
Me and Ashley went for a ride today, and decided to explore the trails. We were probably riding for over an hour, mostly at a trot, when we found a sign that side one way back to ranch and one way to picnic area. We followed the picnic area one, which will be the red line on my map. We rode for a bit until we came upon a marsh - it WAS the trail, so I stupidly assumed it was safe. We got about 50 feet in and everything was good, the water was about belly deep and all of a sudden, Zierra drops like a rock. She sunk passed her chest within seconds, and I had to leap from her back. She flailed around desperately before falling onto her side. I somehow managed to get out of it, because the bog was knee deep and I was up to my waist in water. Justus only got her front end in and was able to get out. I had to unclip one rein and stand waist deep in this marsh while my beloved mare lay on her side, face half in the water, panting.
After calling for help, and knowing NOBODY would know where we were, I made the decision to go for help. Ashley didn't know where we were, so I had to take her little 14.1hh pony and find someone. It took me over half an hour to get back to the ranch at almost a dead run the entire way (and some trotting for breaks). Shay-la was waiting for me with her THREE YEAR OLD Clydesdale/Thoroughbred filly. I was absolutely desperate at this point, I knew how bad the situation was and Shay-la didn't - my horse was trapped in a bog, surrounded by 50 feet of waist deep water on all sides and nothing but bloody marsh grass and cat tails around us.
Shay-la quickly changed saddles for me and gave Justus a drink (the pony) before we set out again at a run. The pony was starting to tire, so we had to do more trotting and it took a little longer to get back. I am PANICKING at this point, not knowing if my horse has drowned, or what if she tried to get up and hurt Ashley and ASHLEY has drowned?
We're almost back, and I hear "NIKI!" and I screamed back that I could hear her. The next words I hear are "I GOT HER OUT!" I started sobbing, and that pony galloped the last few turns to reach them, where Ashley was riding my very prancy Arab down the trail towards us. I couldn't even breath I was sobbing so hard when I started hugging her.
This wasn't just a day about saving my horse. The unbelievable heart and courage that we saw from all THREE horses today was unreal. Zierra spent 2 HOURS on her side in that bog, with Ashley sitting in a disgusting filthy bog, holding her nose out of the water and talking to her. We are dubbing her the TRUE horse whisperer now, because at some point Zierra decided she was worth fighting for and in one mighty heave, exploded herself out of the bog in one movement. Ashley had to let go of the reins because of the depth, and Zierra leaped out until she was standing in only water and WAITED for Ashley (Arabian loyalty at it's finest). She proceeded to stand and wait for the 15 year old child to climb onto her back and carried her out of the marsh and down the trail until we met them. This horse has piled full grown men into the ground who dared ride her.
Ashley's pony Justus traveled over 30kms today, and a good 15km of that was at a gallop/canter or fast trot. She never faltered, she knew I needed her, and even when she was tired, she continued on gamely. She stood quietly in the bog, waiting for us to make a move, never moving despite being belly deep in water and sunk to her fetlocks.
Shay-las 3 year old Eve was a spectacle of disbelief. She's only recently started trail riding, and she cantered almost the entire way back without faltering, without spooking, without resisting. When we found Zierra and Ashley, Zierra had badly twisted her shoe and couldn't be ridden, so Eve continued to amaze everyone by allowing me and Shay-la to double on her while Zierra was ponied back to the ranch. She accurately navigated badly boggy patches of turf, keeping us safe and stable and never taking a false step.
At the end of it all, it was a truly amazing day to witness what three women with three loyal and courageous mares can get done in a moment of pure desperation.
The map that explains our day - we began our ride at the blue dot, and rode the blue line until meeting the red line where we hung a right to explore the Hazelnut trail. The red dot shows where we got stuck, and the red line shows the route I had to gallop back on the pony to get help. We followed that same course going back to get Zierra and finally going home. The red line alone is approx. 6-7km.
Zierra stuck in the bog the way I left her to go get help. We had been originally riding in the opposite direction that she's facing, and managed to get her turned around at least this far.
This shows the "ridge" where the bog starts - we're standing in waist deep water, but it's not "boggy" where we are, or at least, it's passable.
Home from our ordeal and heading for a bath
Which one is dirtier? My paddock boots are wrecked, full of mud and water, and my jeans are filthy and drenched. My saddle is wrecked, it used to be pale tan.
The clean side of my saddle, showing the back part tan, the color it USED to be.
The dirty side - the entire thing was FULL of mud, I had to spray the hose into the tree to get all the clumps out.
Her twisted shoe - she has toe clips and the entire thing bent UNDER her foot, between the wall and the shoe and was gouging her.
We had to pry it off as no farrier was available.
She wasn't impressed at first, who can blame her? I've had enough water for one day as well!
Attempting to clean my saddle.
Attempting to clean my horse.
Her dirty tired face.
Almost clean and surprisingly in good shape - aside from her shoe and a cinch sore, she's none the worse for wear!
More pics coming.