There was yet another time Montana proved to be a dangerous state for us. I nearly drowned while crossing the Powder River. This is how it happened.
Ray the singer, who the other men called “Fat,” was always the first to cross any river we came to. He took a long pole and poked it into the water to test the depth. He plotted the course across the river and the rest of us followed.
This method worked quite well until the day we crossed the Powder River. Fat had my lead rope, as he often did when we were to cross a river. In the past, I obediently followed right behind him as he rode Blaze across the swiftly moving river. But today was different. As we approached the river’s edge, I felt my pack shift just slightly to one side. Something was wrong. I knew it. Fat entered the water, his horse walking confidently. It didn’t seem like there would be any problem. Yet, I became nervous. The pack wasn’t right. It wasn’t centered on my back the way it should be.
I stopped at the edge of the water. When Fat got far enough away to remove the slack from the lead, it jerked my halter. Still, I remained right where I was, my hooves planted on the sandy shore.
Fat must have felt the rope get taut. He turned around. “Pinto, come on, boy.”
I remained in place, bracing my thick neck against the pressure the rope and halter were putting on my head.
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