Wyoming – While packing for a hunting trip, 6-year-old Valentine got too ill to continue to trip, so she was left to fend for herself. BJ Hill, owner and operator of Swift Creek Outfitters, told reporters “She got sick in there really bad. She had all the signs of dying.” He knew she wouldn’t last long in the forest, and expected carnivores to kill her and eat her.
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She was seen again in mid December, when a trail groomer was clearing and packing snowmobile trails. She was emaciated and had been pawing through the snow, trying to find little bits of grass to eat. The groomer reported the lost horse to the Forest Service. Officer Dirk Chalfant started working on a plan to rescue her. Chalfant tracked down her owner, BJ Hill, and also found that she had been living in the snow for at least 6 weeks, with 5′ of snow and often 30 degree below zero weather.
Chalfant, BJ Hill, and Hill’s son organized a rescue plan and headed out on snowmobile to rescue her. The terrain was particularly difficult for snowmobiles, despite having the latest machines. The trio finally found Valetine, and she made it very clear she wasn’t going to be left behind again. “She didn’t want to spend another night back there alone,” Chalfant said. “If we had to leave her and drive away, I think she would have been heartbroken.”
The horse followed the snowmobile tracks, as one person led her. She would often fall through the track and be buried in 5′ of snow, but 8 hours later the trio and Valentine made it to a better packed road. After nearly 20 miles of travel, the horse was finally loaded into a trailer and taken to a winter home in Pavillion.
No word as to whether BJ Hill will be prosecuted for abandoning Valentine in the forest.
Original Story and Photo: Jackson Hole News and Guide.Author: Dale Williams <-- Become my friend on Facebook! - Phone: 724-964-6773
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