Buckskin Gelding | DOB: 9/2003 | Arrival: 10/2003 | Height: 16 hands
"I knew that if he could survive traveling 1000 miles packed into my trailer with 100 other PMU babies who were three times his size, he was meant to be yours," Virginia said as we made our way through her "new arrivals" corral. Over the years Virginia and her sister have rescued hundreds of PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) horses and brought them down into a new life in Central Oregon.
It was late in the fall and Virginia had just returned from Canada with a new load of yearlings. In a voice heavy with emotion, she recounted to me her latest trip. She spoke of how the young horses were all gathered into a large corral to make it easier for buyers to come and purchase them. While my friends were staying at the Canadian ranch, something horrible happened. During the night marauding bears entered the corral of the weanling horses. Because the young equine were so tightly packed together, they could not escape the attacking bears. Many babies were killed. Many more were seriously wounded; others mortally so.
The dying and wounded horses were placed into a separate corral to be euthanized once the public buyers left. Virginia shared with me how she could not bear to even walk by this corral knowing that all these young horses were soon to be put down. Yet, on her way to retrieve some items out of her truck, she had to pass them. She dared to look.
Of the gruesome carnage encircled in the corral, there was one foal that she just simply could not look away from. He was the tiniest of all: An infant of no more than a few weeks old. He should have still been by the protective side of his mother, not abandoned within a herd of mortally wounded babies. His hind end was seriously injured, but Virginia felt that he could recover if he was given the chance. All he needed was a chance.
Together we carefully made our way through the resting young horses. My tenderhearted friend scanned the herd for the special infant that she had just told me about. "There he is," she said as the babies parted before us. I was shocked by what I saw. He WAS tiny. He moved on gangly legs that seemed far too big and clumsy to be supporting such a little body. He was buckskin in color with the crowned head and feathered legs of a draft type. As he turned away from us his injuries came into full view. Clearly, the bear had attacked from behind by clawing into both hindquarters. Though both sides were injured, the left side was far more damaged with underlying structures involved. Individual claw marks could still be seen around an avulsion of his hamstring muscle.
I brought him home the following day. Even though his wounds were extensive, day-by-day we saw improvement. It took nine months for his injuries to heal. We chose to name him "Little Bear" to honor his humble beginnings and to encourage children to ask about his unique story.
Little Bear came to the Ranch as a frightened 300-pound infant that was badly injured. Today, he still bears the scars of his journey through pain. And it is his scars that continue to challenge and encourage those who spend time with him that if he can make it through his “personal attack," so can his human counterparts.
From his arrival at Crystal Peaks, Little Bear has grown into a 16-hand, 1,600-pound vehicle of healing. He has been an equine leader in playing horse games, trail rides, pack trips and parade participation. Few horses on the Ranch have had a greater impact on kids who’ve also experienced personal hardship. His scars are symbolic to all that what you think is beyond survivability—isn’t—when given to God. Because nothing is impossible with God.
(More of Little Bears story can be read in Bridge Called Hope, pages 44-56).