Face it: you’re a sucker for a furry face. So what would you do if you learned about a seemingly impossible situation that could surely lead to tragedy? Find out what one entire town did in “The Rescue of Belle & Sundance” by Birgit Stutz and Lawrence Scanlan.
Even in the harshest weather, the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia are gorgeous. The scenery is lush and beautiful but up-close, the terrain can be a challenge for anyone who forgets the power of nature.
In early fall of 2008, a lawyer from Edmonton attempted to take supplies to a friend hiking near the BC-Alberta border. When his two pack horses had trouble in the “foul and cold” weather, the man relieved the animals of their loads and turned them loose, believing that they would find their way down the mountain, as horses sometimes do. He notified the RCMP in McBride, B.C., just in case.
Several times afterward, the animals were sighted by snowmobilers and hikers. Pictures were taken of them frolicking in mountain meadows, and were posted online. Everyone figured that “someone” had the situation under control.
Because they believed the horses had been reclaimed, it was a shock to horse lovers in McBride when the animals were again spotted in late December. Though getting there was dangerous due to the season’s snowpack, some ventured up to where the animals stood, corralled in a small area by 2-meter-high snow, starving and waiting.
Author and horsewoman Birgit Stutz could barely sleep when she learned of the animals’ plight. It had been determined that the horses hadn’t yet given up, but the snow would impede their rescue. Frigid temperatures meant that an airlift was impossible. Predators made the situation even more dangerous.
No, the only way out would be an all-volunteer, hand-dug, one-kilometer-long trench through the snow, then a walk down a logging road for almost 19 miles to safety. Could the town pull off a Christmas miracle?
Okay, so you probably already know the outcome of “The Rescue of Belle & Sundance.” Still, getting there is a pretty great ride.
Authors Birgit Stutz and Lawrence Scanlan put readers on the edge of their saddles as they recount the eight-day effort made by dozens of volunteers on behalf of two starving animals. I shivered as the authors explain the conditions the rescuers endured, in part because of the excitement and in part because, well, -40C is dang cold. I also liked that readers get an update on what happened in the aftermath of the rescue.
“The Rescue of Belle & Sundance” is horsey heaven for any equine enthusiast. Hand this book to someone who appreciates good horse flesh, in fact, and you won’t get any arguments.