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A very close call on our last day in Chile

88 °F

Pearl and her horse Moro. He looks so calm and gentle. He was a BITER! Constantly nipping at the butt of the horse in front of him. But Pearl loved him, and they were an awesome team.

Yesterday on our final full day of travel, we took a horseback ride up the mountains. An international group of women—the guide was Dutch, and the riders were two Americans, a German, and a Japanese—all fairly inexperienced riders. Our common language? English!

The view from the top: Volcan Villarrica, our local active volcano with smoke coming out of its mouth. (Here you can hire a tour guide company to hike you to the rim. That’s a little to exciting for my taste, given recent news from New Zealand.)

Sue on Puelche, Pearl on Moro

A simple snack was served at the top with a view of three more volcanos (on the far right of the photo)

Our trail went over private lands through gates, streams, and bridges as we constantly climbed. Sounds like perfection, but honestly, the trails were in varying, but poor condition.

And then tragedy struck.

I was riding last as we approached a rickety bridge. Our guide clearly told us to “stay right”, and as the rider in front of me crossed, her horse went left and started to struggle with footing. I yelled “HORSE DOWN, HORSE DOWN”, as horse and rider (the German woman) sunk into the heavy bamboo under the bridge.

By the time I was off my horse, the rider’s leg was trapped under the body of her horse who was continuing to sink into the gulley. The guide and I formed a human chain to pull her out (thankfully unhurt), but the horse continued to slip down and out of sight into the thick bamboo. Immediately, the guide grabbed her machete and started whacking at the undergrowth, and quite remarkably, the horse remained fairly calm with only short bursts of panic. Apparently he was laying on his side as he sunk down in, but it was obvious that this gulley was actually a very steep descent down the mountain, and the only thing holding up the horse was the thick bamboo under him.

Pearl was very helpful as she tended to the three horses in front—keeping them calm, making sure they were tied up. For the most part, I stayed on the other side of the rotten, broken bridge with my horse, keeping him calm and trying to help by hauling out cut bamboo.

Help arrive after forty-five minutes—Four or five more guides from the ranch, armed with machetes, ropes, and a chainsaw. Eventually, one of the guides led the four of us back down the mountain, although I had to ride a different horse. It was too risky to even walk my original horse Puelche across the rotten bridge in case he should also fall in.

The rotten bridge

The fallen horse was somewhere down that hole

Goodbye sweet Puelche

Hoping that both Puelche and the fallen horse Treintayocho return

On our drive back to our cabin, we found out that the fallen horse was rescued and that all would be well. Thank goodness. Thank goodness it wasn’t Pearl who fell. Thank goodness no one was hurt. I will never forget this, nor probably ever horseback ride on such poorly maintained trails.

Today we begin our journey home, which ends tomorrow morning. We are looking forward to being home. Home where cold is always on the right and hot on the left. Home where you can flush tp. Home to our sweet old Daisy dog (thank you Aunt Betsy and family!) And home where we are safe.

Pearl and I are looking forward to seeing Dave when he finally returns from the CSO European tour in a week.

We will miss our simplicity of life here, uncomplicated by work, school, and home chores. I will strive to remember to not let the little things that seem so important back home take over my life.

My favorite takeaways from this trip:
Spending time with my family—laughing about memories, struggling AND figuring out problems.
Really noticing that both of my kids are bright, stunning individuals—unique from one another and unique from all others.
The privilege of seeing gorgeous and fragile parts of our planet—Patagonia, Antarctica—and understanding our responsibility.

Thank you all who have followed along on this blog. Your presence has given me warmth in lonely moments. We have vague plans for more travel coming up. See you on the road!


Posted by skwclar 02:11 Archived in Chile

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Oh my gosh, sooo glad that you were not hurt and the horses were rescued. I think your guardian angels were with you on the trail. Your family adventure has been so exciting and memorable. Safe travels back to Home Sweet Home

by Joyce Gilliland

I only read this last story. Remarkable that everything turned out well.
And you, Susan, are remarkable and very brave to make this journey with your kids. Love you! ❤️

by Eva-Carol Beck

Hi Sue,
Thanks for taking us along on another of your incredible journeys. So glad you are safe. Enjoy your home time.

by Roberta Miles

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