Dan escaping the bear.
One cold winter night I was awakened to a loud snort from Danny. That is what horses do if they feel threatened. I jumped up and climbed down the ladder from our loft. I threw on boots and coat, then grabbed a flashlight. In the thin light of a half moon, I could see Dan and he seemed all right, but very upset and prancing around in a small circle on top of the hill. He was pointing his nose and ears in the direction of the thing he feared. I pointed my flashlight that way and saw two glowing eyes that seemed far apart and two or three feet off the ground. I shouted to Bob to get the gun. I took my big wash basin and a ladle out onto our porch. Whatever it was had moved to right across the gorge from our cabin. Dan was still snorting and racing around the big corral. Bob came out with the rifle but it was only a twenty-two. Unless he got a perfect shot it would only make a large animal more dangerous with a wound. I banged on the wash basin and the eyes moved away. So we waited and watched Dan. He moved like a compass needle. Each time he stood still and stared at a spot in the woods, I would shine the flashlight there and see those glowing eyes.
Bob fired the rifle a couple of times into the air. The animal circled our whole clearing and finally left as the sky brightened with the sunrise. I got the fire going and made coffee. Bob had to leave to work at a carpentry job with Edie’s husband, Mike. After breakfast I walked with him across the gorge and we looked for tracks. As far as we could tell, a bear had investigated us the night before. It could have been a mountain lion but we didn’t know tracks well enough to be sure. Bob left the loaded gun with me, just in case the animal came back.
A few months later I was picking black berries up on our hill with my friend Debbie. Our buckets were almost full when we heard heavy breathing. Then a few bushes rustled and the breathing turned into a hoarse chuffing sound. I said “We’re not alone, I think it’s a bear. Run!! We ran down the hill back to the cabin, I don’t think I ever ran so fast through the woods.
Another incident like this happened the that summer. On hot summer days I would take Danny’s harness and bridle off and ride him with just his halter and twine for reins to find a place to swim, or at least get wet. We went up the mountain to a power line that crossed a swamp. This was one of his favorite places. The water formed large puddles deep enough for Danny to lie down and roll to cool himself. As I stood on the bank, holding onto the baling twine tied to his halter, Danny was rolling in the water. All of a sudden he jumped up. His eyes were wild and he was shaking all over. I knew something was wrong. Out of the corner of my eye I saw mud floating out of freshly made footprints in the water. I jumped off a big rock onto his back and grabbed hold of his mane. A second after I hit his back he reared up and turned around all in one motion, water and brown mud flying everywhere. As Dan turned I looked back and there was a black bear standing up on his hind legs not fifty feet from us. Danny waited for me, just a few seconds before he bolted. If he hadn’t waited, I would have been in big trouble.
Danny took off at the fastest gallop I had ever known him to do. I had little control without a bridle on him so I just lay down on his back and hung on. I tried to direct him toward the logging road and luckily he went straight home that way. If he had gone through the woods one of us could have been hurt.