Searchers find horse missing for week in Chugach

nherz@adn.comSeptember 7, 2013 

Thirsty and missing three shoes, a horse that went missing for a week in the Chugach Mountains has been rescued, according to its owners.

At about 5 p.m. Saturday, Christene Gravley said her husband B.J. and a friend, Rose Brigmon, had emerged from the Chugach with Windy, the animal that escaped from a sheep hunting camp last weekend.

"Oh my here they come she is here!!!!!!!" Gravley wrote in a text message.

After B.J. Gravley had spotted the horse from a helicopter on Friday evening, he and Brigmon rode in on horseback and retrieved Windy a day later from the meadow where her tether had snagged on a tree.

She looked a little dehydrated, Gravley said, but filled out after some oats, some grass, and a few gallons of water. Then, in typical headstrong fashion, she "basically led us out on the trail" Gravley said.

"She wasn't going to be left behind -- that's a fact," he said.

Windy,  half American quarter horse and half Belgian, had vanished from the Gravleys' hunting camp near Ship Lake, an eight-mile trek into the mountains from Indian, off the Seward Highway. The area is in Chugach State Park.

A search party on horseback on Friday had to turn back short of the campsite. But later that day a volunteer, Andy Fowler, alerted by an article in the Daily News, flew B.J. Gravley to the site in a helicopter. That's when Windy was finally found -- about three-quarters of a mile from the Gravleys' original campsite, said Christene Gravley.

She had nibbled away part of the tree, a 10-foot spruce, while stuck in the hole, B.J. Gravley said, but didn't appear uncomfortable or alarmed.

"She was just patiently waiting for me to come free her," he said.

Michele Poole, a friend of the Gravleys who coordinated the search, said that Windy's survival for a full week in the Chugach was not unprecedented.

"I've heard stories of horses being gone for a whole summer, and not even be found until the leaves start getting off the trees," said Poole, a veterinary technician.

Still, she said it was "wonderful" that Windy was safe, adding that she was grateful for the volunteers who helped with the search effort.

"Half the battle of finding a lost pet is getting the word out so people know," Poole said. "Once they do know, they want to help."

Reach Nathaniel Herz at or 257-4311.


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