The story of a town in northeast British Columbia that came together to rescue two horses trapped on a mountain’s snowy summit.
With co-author Scanlan (The Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat, the World's Greatest Racehorse, 2007), horse trainer and riding instructor Stutz opens with a kind of fairy-tale tone that hints at sublime imagery, suspense and creatively drawn characters. Despite sincere, balanced efforts by the author, the story—while impressive and inspiring—ultimately fails to deliver on these literary counts. Still, there is certainly something here for animal lovers and those for whom life in the Canadian Rockies is either familiar or of interest. In September 2008, a lawyer from Edmonton took his two pack horses, Belle and Sundance, up Mt. Renshaw to deliver supplies to a friend hiking there. When the weather turned foul, he made a wrong turn and led the horses through two treacherous bogs, after which they refused to follow him. Figuring the horses would come down the mountain when they were ready, he abandoned them and headed for the valley, not to find them again for 12 weeks. By mid-December, “the verdant mountain meadows…gradually transformed into…a cold, white prison” for Belle and Sundance. The owner determined them too weak to make it through the deep snow, and decided to “let nature take its course,” a decision for which he would later be charged with animal cruelty. Meanwhile, snowmobilers had spread the word around a nearby town that two emaciated horses were trapped at Renshaw summit. After ruling out euthanasia due to the glimmers in Belle and Sundance’s eyes, the locals mobilized in a collective act of community spirit to orchestrate a rescue attempt. Over seven days, they dug a “tunnel to freedom” to lead the horses down the mountain to the logging road nearly 20 miles away, and eventually to health on separate ranches in the region. Stutz emerged as the lead horse handler and spokesperson for the effort.
A bit narrow, but worth the read if the topic appeals.