Lost Competitive Trail Horse Located by Luck

A 21-year-old chestnut Morgan mare was found after being missing for over 40 hours in the Blueridge Wildlife Management Area of the 65,000 Chattahoochee National Forest.

Wildflower in competition
Wildflower's return to camp

Top: Wildflower in competition. Bottom: The escapee's return to camp after her night in the wild.

Owner Martha Findley of Seymour, Tenn., had taken Wildflower to compete in a competitive trail event May 21, 2008. After successfully vetting in Friday evening, Wildflower was securely tied to an overhead tie line for the night. When Findley awoke near dawn Saturday morning, an empty halter hung from the line.

Ride managers Debbie and Mark Jones of Canton, Ga., mobilized forces immediately, including the Sheriff's Department of Lumpkin County. Mountain bikers in the area and other riders were enlisted to help in the search.

"I've never had a horse get away from me," said Findley, who has tallied more than 6,000 competitive miles.

Owner Findley even borrowed a competitor's stallion after the competition ended and went out looking because, "Wildflower is just such a harpie, I thought I would find her," Findley reasoned.

Devastated, Findley had to drive home Sunday to attend to an urgent family matter. She left the search to others until she could return and left on roads she had traveled upwards of 10 times. Blinded by her tears, she missed the first left turn only a half mile from camp. Through her tears, she noticed she was on an unfamiliar road and searched for a place to turn her rig around.

A man mowing his lawn near the driveway Findley selected for her reversal asked what was wrong. He found her story interesting since he had discovered horse manure and horse tracks all over his yard early Sunday morning. He didn't own a horse.

Searchers were immediately summoned and calling "Wildflower," the mare was found "in pristine condition," according to her overjoyed owner.

Before her journey home, Wildflower was returned to and paraded through camp to the cheers of all involved with the ride and search. Wildflower's baffling disappearance and "happenchance" recovery left Findley with a weekend she would never forget.

About the Author

Marsha Hayes

Marsha Hayes has been covering endurance, trail, and other equine topics since 2005. She believes every horse has a story.

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