The Road Less Saddled – Day 2
Clay and I decide to take in some American history.
Clay and I are well rested and ready to hit the pavement. Since it’s very cold this morning, the horses are blanketed and brought out to the trailer one by one. And unfortunately it appears our little “Feist” has obtained some kind of a small puncture during the night. Who knows what she did but luckily, we’re equipped with antibiotics, Bute and Furacin.
Once Feist is looked after, we load up and go. Soon we’ll cross the Montana / Wyoming state border and our plan is to travel into a third state today and overnight in Nunn, Colorado. Since we still have many miles to go, I am surprised when Clay suggests that we stop, only minutes into our day.
“Want to check out the Little Bighorn Battlefield?” he asks me.
“Sure! Why not?” is my response. Can’t do it when we’re not here. So Clay pulls our rig off the main highway and into the National Monument Park. I had learned about Custer’s Last Stand in grade school, but never had the opportunity to see the location in real life.
With the truck and trailer safely parked in the park’s car lot, Clay and I take a quick tour of the Little Bighorn Museum and learn about the Clash of Cultures that led to battle and ultimately, one of the last armed efforts of the Northern Plains Indians to preserve their ancestral way of life. Then we hike up to Last Stand Hill. Here, General George Armstrong Custer and an estimated 41 men shot their horses for cover and spent the last moments of their lives fighting as part of the 7th Cavalry.
Prior to this trip, I had often heard that Custer’s horse “Comanche” was the only survivor of the Battle at Bighorn. So naturally, I looked for evidence of this fact at the museum. I found none. Later, I began doing a little research of my own and was quite surprised at the results. Turns out, the horse “Comanche” did exist and had been a survivor at the Battle. However, he was not Custer’s mount. When reinforcements arrived at Bighorn, Custer and approximately 210 of his men were found dead. Any horses that had survived were taken by the Indians, although Comanche was left behind because he was injured.
Comanche was then nursed back to health and he became a famous figure for the white man. The public wrongly assumed he had been Custer’s horse and that he was the Battle’s sole survivor. Subsequently, the Army and the Federal Government paraded Comanche around the country, gathering public affection and support for their efforts as he went.
The horse passed away in 1890, 14 years after the Little Bighorn Battle. He currently stands at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum. Comanche had been stabled nearby at Fort Riley and when he died, it was automatically assumed that he would be preserved. The best taxidermist in Kansas worked at the museum, so Comanche was sent there and stuffed. However, the officers at Fort Riley failed to pick Comanche up or pay their taxidermy bill. Hence, Comanche stayed. He is still there on exhibit, wearing his cavalry blanket and saddle.
But back to our visit. As Clay and I headed out from Little Bighorn Battlefield, we take a few moments to walk through the National Cemetery. We also pay our respects to the US soldiers who now rest there, many who fought in the first or second World Wars.
Finally, we hit the road again. And it wasn’t long after that, we have to pull over again. Clay steers our rig into the Wyoming Port of Entry. Our rig is weighed and we are flagged directly through.
We stop one more time to water horses. Just like yesterday, they decline the drink and instead, splash it back onto Clay. This is why I choose to take pictures today, instead of offering to help my husband.
At approximately 7 pm, we finally get to our destination for the evening: High Line Stable in Nunn, CO. Owned and operated by Mike Dalrymple, High Line is not far off the I25 and is a very happy place with fearless, horse-loving kids! Our horses will spend the night in huge stalls (12×14), bedded with newspaper.
I’ve heard of newspaper as bedding before but have never used it. However, the end result boasts very environmentally-friendly, efficiently maintained stalls.
Clay went to clean and ready the trailer for the next morning, while I get to work removing blankets and brushing down each of the horses. Mike also allows me into his washrack to cold hose Feist’s leg. Then Clay and I head over to find a hotel room for ourselves and an authentic Mexican dinner. We’ll aim to get going again for 7 am.