It was the end of the hunt and we were trailing our packhorses out of the bush. The trail had been used exclusively by horses for many decades, until people with offroad vehicles discovered it and began using their machines to bash their way along it.
Our trail systems have been pillaged and chewed up by off-road vehicles, each year showing more and more wear and tear.
On this trail out, we have to cross one particular bog, which has no other way around it. It is muddy and slow going, but for years, we’ve never had a serious problem getting our animals across it. Until recently.
The bog, now a mud pit, is much deeper and is surrounded by trees bearing chains and ratchet systems for pulling out offroad vehicles which had bogged down. Dozens of trees have been cut in their attempt to make a corduroy platform that has been chewed to bits. It is an unsightly mess which I dread crossing.
On this trip, each horse had problems being stuck in the mud and required help getting through it. Some had to be unpacked in order to traverse the mess, then were tied to a tree, as the rest were led through.
When we had all the horses across I made a point of inspecting each animal and noticed a 12-inch laceration on Curly, our strongest packer. His abdomen had been penetrated by one of the chewed up pieces of wood now in the mud pit, and he was bleeding profusely.
We quickly tore off his pack and used a shirt to cover the wound, then fastened it with a rope around his body in an attempt to stem the blood flow. Curly was led to the road and, by that time, was in a weakened state. I put him on the horse trailer after exchanging the shirt for another one and hoped we could make it to the corral.
He made it, but was shaking in an uncontrollable manner. I stayed with him throughout the night, checking the wound, adding pressure to the dressing and changing it every few hours. Despite the care, Curly died the next day.
Upon reflecting what happened, it angers me that our government had nothing in place to regulate the irresponsible use of machines which seem to be able to go anywhere in this territory. It would certainly do us well to set in place some rules to prevent what happened to us. Curly would have appreciated it.