Horse led her through brutal snowstorm

From our April 2012 issue

By Marina Antonenko – Saskatoon, Sask.

It was a fine fall morning. We’d decided to process some turkeys and take them from the farm into Saskatoon to sell the next day. We had raised over 100 that year.

I went to the house at noon to fix us a bite to eat. While there, I turned on the news. It had already begun snowing and upon returning to the barn with lunch, I told my husband I thought we should stop.

He believed the snow would clear up by evening, so he kept on cleaning the turkeys. The milk cows knew better, however, and were already at the barn door, so we let them in.

Our son had a half-mile to go to Asgard School and our daughter was in high school five miles away in the town of Sonningdale. He came home early, before the storm had turned bad.

Left the light on

Our girl would often ride her horse to the neighbour’s farm and stable the horse in their barn. She’d drive the rest of the way to school with the neighbour’s kids in their car. On this day, however, she was a running late, so she rode her horse all the way to school.

The storm picked up force. Soon we couldn’t even see the barn. The yard light was halfway between the house and barn. With some gusts, we couldn’t see it either – but we left the light on, just in case.

That light shook violently with the strong gusts of wind. It would’ve been suicidal to go into that storm. We hoped our daughter was at the neighbour’s, but that little doubt came in and there was no phone line between us and the neighbour’s.

The kids started home from school by car, with our daughter’s horse tied behind. They had to turn off of the road into a field due to a bad spot blocking the road. The car stalled and they couldn’t get it started again.

Too agitated to ride

Being suitably dressed for the weather from her morning ride to school, it was decided our daughter would go for help. Her horse was so agitated by the storm she couldn’t mount it, so she put the lines over her arm and let the horse lead her to the neighbor’s barn.

Once there, she informed our neighbour of the predicament and he started out on foot. He thought he’d get the car started and bring them home, however he was soon disoriented and lost.

Walking until he felt road under his feet, he followed it back to the farmyard. There, he hitched up his team of horses to his sleigh and went off in search of the car.

We had no news of our daughter and her schoolmates fate for days. On the third day, the wind was still blowing hard, but the snow had eased up, making travel possible. My husband, Jack, hitched his team and went to see where our girl was. It was a relief to finally see them coming over the hill, her saddle horse tied behind the sleigh.

Our daughter only suffered a little frostbite to her face and a bare spot of the wrist of the arm she’d put the lines over. It healed soon enough.

And about those turkeys? We couldn’t possibly eat them all, so Jack hitched the horse team up and went peddling turkeys door to door. He managed to sell them all. I didn’t ask at what price.

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