Monday, March 15, 2010

What's next?

Over the weekend we had a bit of interesting news in the Valley of the Sun. A group of four riders went out and during their ride they ran into a problem. A rather large problem. They left their common sense behind.

We have had quite a bit of rain over the past couple of months. 13" so far this year is what has been reported. We live in a desert and sometimes the storms are referred to as a "gully washer", because the washes, gullies and otherwise small streams fill up washing everything away. The Salt River is flowing and the current can be strong in places.

So these people set out and at some point in their ride thought crossing the water was a good idea. Now I am all for a horse crossing water and quietly going where you ask them to go. But for the horses sake- use your head! They underestimated the current, one of the horses is now still 'stuck on the island' and one of the horses broke a leg and had to be shot on site by an officer.

It's a sad story that could have been prevented all the way around, had these people made a simple decision and chosen a different route. Really not a tough thing to do.

In Arizona we also have what is called the "Stupid Motorist Law" which in affect, leaves the motorist to pay for their rescue should they decide to try crossing the water in a gulch, gully, wash or roadway otherwise covered with water. If the roadway is blocked with a pylon or barrier- you are plain busted. You pay for any and all resources involved in pulling you out. You pay the wages of any officers, firefighters, EMT's or specialty rescue crews involved- however many hours it takes to get everyone out. You pay for the trucks, boats, heavy equipment, a helicopter and pilot if necessary... It can add up fast.

Another aspect of this is that your insurance company can deny the claim, drop your policy and you are SOL ($h!t out of luck) to pay for not only the rescue operation, but a vehicle that is now a total loss with a 'salvage' title and off to the wrecking yard due to water damage. If you haven't paid it off- you still owe the bank. If you have kids in the car, you face charges of child endangerment on top of it all.

The one local news station abc15 has been covering the story and in this article they are asking if the riders should be charged for paying for their rescue. It was at Yes- 73.2% / No- 26.8% when I voted. I am wondering if they also face animal cruelty charges on top of it as well? The horses didn't choose the trail.

The owners are also now desperately wanting to get hay out to the horse. In the last photo of the slide show you will see about a half bale of alfalfa sitting on the ground, ready to go out to the horse. They have tried taking it out by boat. To me this translates into putting more people at risk and possibly another rescue mission in the making...

The horse has been there since Friday. Dumping a half bale out there he will likely dive into and consume it all and could resultingly colic. Are they going to get a vet to the island if he does? Could the current turn that into another rescue mission too?

I want what is best for the horse. I understand it is one they raised from birth, but had they cared so much about it- this whole situation never would have come up in the first place. The people? They all got out with no injuries. Maybe I am being a bit harsh. I can handle that. But where does their accountability and responsibility lay?

Our horses are not in that situation. They won't be, either. Not if I can help it. don't know if they asked for any of the media attention, but they don't seem to be turning it away either. I don't need my 15 minutes of fame that badly. I will go without if it ever meant the life of one of my horses and possibly another.

*Just to add to the story a bit- more on the story or maybe it should be MORON in the story- "My wife lost everything she owned... her boots her sunglasses..."

So much for sympathy about losing the HORSE!


  1. I firmly believe in the "you play you pay" theory. And I would, like to see more rules applied to reckless or careless actions costing the party involved and not the gov't or public. Water crossings can be extremely dangerous. Our rule of thumb is to call the conservation officers in the area and ask if there is any question of river crossings being high risk in an area in the spring. Not only can mountain watercourses be running fast and high, they are dang cold as they are fed by snow melting in the high country, so ad to all the other risks Hypothermia as well. We have cancelled or relocated ride based on just these issues.
    At the end of the day though you just can’t legislate common sense!

  2. FV- I just checked on Mikeys blog and there was another link. I added it to the OP at the end.

    They did face hypothermia and the water was about 6 feet deep. They had already crossed once, but had to cross again to get home.

    You can see the strength of the current if you take a few seconds and watch before entering. Rushing water does not pass you by slowly.

    I have known people to stop their cars, find a big rock and toss it in the water. You can't see the rock? Forget crossing the water! This is allowing for the road being built up and the sides dropping off too.

    There are washes in the east valley with marker posts at the edge of the road. They are painted black and white, marked off by foot. 1 foot is black with a white 1, the next foot is white with a black 2 and so on up the post. No guessing how deep the water is, just look at the post before trying.

    Just because it is shallow doesn't mean it isn't flowing and has a strong current. This can easily take a car (or truck) off the road and into serious trouble. As Mikey said on her post- the water and currents can make for big holes or even ruts in the road and spell disaster in nothing flat.

    I am all for accountability in things people do. Darwin can't always be around.

  3. Very sad a horse had to die due to their owner's very bad decision.
    I wish we had that law here in the Pacific Northwest when it came to mountain rescues. I think we should tell all mountain climbers that if you climb between November and April you are on your own! But if we do come looking for you the $80,000 bill is all yours.

  4. Isn't that the craziest/dumbest thing to do? (not that I haven't done my share, but dang!)
    I feel for that poor horse left out there. Hope these folks learned a valuable lesson. Don't mess around in these washes. They'll eat you alive.

  5. Sheesh.

    I hate people who treat horses like nothing better than quadbikes.

    I'm listening to a very interesting interview right now regarding animal sentience, and my zero tolerance for that mindset is being reinforced.

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  7. I am finding more and more people are becoming somewhat withdrawn and reclusive with their horses, their knowledge and basically their lives. They just cannot be bothered with people like this, people who wish to learn, but don't follow directions, don't listen and really do exactly the opposite of what they are told.

    We all make mistakes, but hopefully a bit of common sense keeps them limited to minor mistakes, small errors and little issues. Hopefully we learn from them and nobody is seriously injured or killed in the process.

    Sometimes those who withdraw are viewed as snobs or elitists. So be it. Maybe we are. But how can we be regarded as such when we expect our horses to behave, are fair in their training and only really expect others to respect our horses, what we have put into them, including our tack, trailers, equipment and what we have spent to acquire each? I never knew that was too much to ask.

  8. A couple things.

    First in AZ if you roll your car on old hwy 66 between Williams and Parks, your car blows up and torches the national forest....You get to pay for the equipment use and labor for the Forest Service to put the fire out. If the Ponderosa pine tree should die, you'll get to pay for that too. So, you religiously go and water it, and poor Miracle Gro to make sure it lives.

    Second. Some years ago a girl that kept her horses where I have mine, tried to cross Little River on her horse at flood stage.

    From reports from witnesses on the beach the 5 year old Arab gelding didn't want to go in the river. She finally got him to go in, and he went under. She slid off him, and he started to swim away. She grabbed the reins, and turned to swim toward shore. This put the horse directly behind her. His hoof caught her where the neck joins the skull. I think it severed the brain stem. It didn't even break a bone. She was only 15, the bones hadn't set yet. Good kid, good rider, but she had 15 year old judgement. She was helicoptered off the beach, but they couldn't save her. It was just horrible tragic. The horse is still at my place. He's a really good boy. He'll be 19 this year.

    Some people thought the horse should be destroyed, or the girl's mother should sell him. The mom said no. That he was her daughter's bestfriend, and it wasn't his fault. Her daughter wouldn't want her to get rid of him, or blame him.

  9. Horspoor,

    Good on the mother. It seems a rare individual nowadays that can see an accident, a mistake in judgment, for what it is. It's great to see someone do right by the animal that "caused" the tragedy. So sorry, of course, for the loss of the girl... as her mom said, her daughter wouldn't want her best friend blamed. Sounds like a pretty mature kid, just a little too cocky like kids can be.

    As for the ones in the post, well, it's so sad they didn't use common sense and a little compassion, but hopefully they will have learned a lesson. And true, we all have to learn some lessons.

    As a youngster, I held my dog's leash as she was nearly swept away in a spring rain swollen stream, but luckily was able to get her out before the collar slipped over her head. I remember like it was yesterday the panic in her eyes, paws scrambling for any purchase and not finding it, and my struggles to lift her out up the steep embankment.

    I have crossed water with horses, even a very small river, but I am super conscious of current. It sounds like they were asking for trouble doing that at this time of year with the weather you've all had.

  10. HP- I know of a similar incident, but not so much the final outcome for the horse.

    There was a horse there named BitterCreek Bill who had come off the track and could on occasion get a bit hot and difficult to handle. His new owner, her SIL and SIL's daughter went for a ride one day and as they were returning home Bill started to get wound up.

    They were halfway across the feild, across the street from the barn. They were riding along the farm road bordered on one side by a shallow irrigation ditch, the other a large feild. SIL and daughter moved their horses down into the feild and advised Bill's owner to do the same. Nothing difficult to do, nothing in regards to anyones skill or riding experience, but something which could have saved the womans life.

    Bill went up, was essentially pulled over backwards and they crashed down into the cement ditch. I'm doubting a helmet would have helped at that point. Bill scrambled to get up and out of the ditch, like any horse would. In doing so he fell back in, landing on the woman- 3 more times.

    There was nothing the Air Evac crew, ambulance crew or the rest of the emergency response teams could do when tehy arrived on scene. Her SIL insisted it was not the horses fault, yet her hubby- the womans brother- wanted Bill put down that day. He had brought his gun to do the job himself.

    I never was informed of where Bill went when he quietly left the barn one day while nobody was around. He was a really nice horse and one I wouldn't have minded owning. myself.

  11. Sad, sad, sad.

    Hope that Bill got a good home....