Six Months Old
                                                                 IN THE BELLY OF THE EARTH

Three weeks after the birth of her colt, I noticed one of our Rocky Mountain mares grazing with the rest of the herd but minus her
baby. This was not a good sign, so I walked closer to investigate.

Our mare, Bo's Blue Baby, obviously hadn't been nursed in a while as was indicated by her full udder. This occurred on a Wednesday
afternoon a couple of hours before dark.  I had seen both mom and foal the previous morning but not since.  This group of horses had
the run of approximately sixty acres, so the search wasn't going to be easy.

I walked in the area closest to the herd until dark but didn’t see or hear anything.  The next morning, my husband and I drove through
the fields,  but there was still no sign of the missing foal.  Bo still hadn’t been nursed and did not appear to be looking for her baby.  
The situation appeared grim.

Early Friday morning, buzzards were circling by a tree at the far end of the pasture.  With a heavy heart, I walked toward the tree
dreading what I might find.  The pasture grass was higher around the tree than the rest of the field, but as I came to within about six
feet, I could see a hole in the ground.  We live in an area that is located above a vast cave system, and as a result, sinkholes are not
uncommon.  This was a new sinkhole right at the base of the tree approximately eight to ten feet in diameter.  The tall grass had fallen
over the top of the hole making it difficult to see unless you were right on top of it.

I lay on the ground and tried to peer over the edge of the sinkhole but could see only blackness and heard nothing!  With the buzzards
circling above, I was sure that Bo's baby was at the bottom of the sinkhole...Dead!

Due to an afternoon appointment, I didn’t get to share this disappointing discovery until early Friday evening.  When I told my
husband, he asked if I had actually seen the foal's body.  I replied that I hadn’t, but  was sure that he was dead; never-the-less, he and I
along with a friend that had stopped by, grabbed a flashlight and went to confirm the foal’s tragic demise.

Our friend peered over the edge of the sinkhole and much to our amazement said that he could see the colt, and that he was lying down
but his head was up!  Bursting into tears, I sobbed that he must have broken his legs as a result of the fall and would surely be
severely injured even if we could get him out of that deep, narrow hole.

Despite my outburst, our friend tied one end of a rope around himself and my husband anchored the other end around a tree.  Our
friend lowered himself into the hole and managed to loop another rope around the neck of the colt.  Then he and my husband quickly
pulled the foal to the surface.  My part in all of this was to cry about the horrible condition that the poor baby was sure to be in!

Much to everyone’s amazement, the colt stood up quickly after reaching the surface and didn't appear to have any injuries except for
some very minor scrapes.  In fact, he started fighting to get away, so we removed the rope, and he took off running to find his

That baby had been in the sinkhole between 48 and 66 hours.  His mother and the other horses had given him up for dead, and so had
I!  It was August, and he had been without food or water for over two days!

RPM'S Lucky Strike (Wonder where he got a name like that!) is now a healthy six month old colt playing happily in the pasture with
the other foals!

Lou Ellen Johnson
Red Pond Meadows
Bowling Green, KY

Post Script: "Lucky" was sold shortly after weaning and renamed RPM'S Choco Amigo.  He now lives happily in Tennessee where he
is a lady's favorite trail gelding!