Akitas and Caseys and bears...

The Snark

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Had to add this to some thread so why not here?
Casey and the River, or, anti-evolution - return to the primordial ooze. With dog.

I packed a group of about 6 people into the high country. Not all fun and games when working as pack station ramrod. On my previous trip in I had cut some log rounds for future firewood as I didn't have an axe that trip. This trip I had the axe head and a new axe handle I had to fit to the head if we were going to have campfires. The seasoned solid ash handle had apparently been originally designed to fit a 4 handed medieval war hammer from the looks of it and my knife was barely able to pare off the thinnest of shavings. I had three hours before sundown to get the thing fixed and the wood split. At 9,000 foot elevation the temperature drops like a rock when that sun goes down.

So I'm sitting there in the dirt, whittling away. The rest of the group had decided to go up to the flats while the remaining member, Casey, stayed to have lunch. Some sort of dehydrated horror trail food. Finishing up she went to toss what was left in her bowl into the river. NO FOOD LEFT OUT and NO GARBAGE! We have bears. Feed the fish.

I see out of the corner of my eye her try to flip the bowl empty and the third time was a charm as she tossed the bowl into the river. Quickly rolling up her pants she went in after it. Third step was on what I call a slither rock and she went down on her back, all but her head under water.
Well, in April that isn't water in the river. Pure snow melt. Out she comes, gasping, and dashes for her pack. I've seen worse foops, done worse foops, so I idly watch as she dashes for her pack, pulls out her towel and dries her face, the only part of her that didn't get wet. She then digs out a change of clothes and I swivel about, turning my back to give her some modesty. A few moments later I hear a loud odd sound. ONONONONONONONON!!!!!! I turn to look and she has backed into the middle of our campsite, naked and clutching her clothes to her chest. The ononon stuff didn't give me much to go by and she wasn't offering up anything else so I went and looked. Okay, rattler. Grab my gun and deal with it then get back to whittling.

Dressed once more I again see her out of the corner of my eye approaching the river. She again rolls up her pants and very carefully steps into the river. She had seen the spoon she dropped earlier. This rock was what I call a rocker I think. See saw. She felt it tip, tried to compensate, and what I saw was her diving head first into the river in a belly flop.

I decide to take a short stroll a little ways down the river. Give her some modesty and facilitate my whittling without an ongoing comedy routine in my face. Need to concentrate. A while later I stroll back to see her, now dressed in the last of her dry clothes, bikini top, heavy jacket and hiking shorts talking my dog into accompanying her for a walk. Ah, peace and quiet. For maybe five minutes. I hear in the distance her calling my dog's name over and over and over. What in heck? Down tools and walk up the river to check. She is standing there exhorting him to follow while he is circling around and around a tree making his weird Akita growl/hum/yodel/hiss sounds. Aha. I move in, time things, take careful aim and as he passes I give him a good solid kick in the butt and yell. "YO!! NUFF! LAY OFF!" It's our tried and proven communication method. He faces me down, hissing. I charge-challenge, he backs off, repeat, repeat until I get him the required distance. He finally decides I'm serious and goes off, back to his meanderings.

I walk back to Casey who appears to be royally confused about my animal abuse. I've got to get back to my whittling and am not going to get into the lengthy explanation of how to get a primal headstrong self willed Akita to cooperate. I just point out the bear cub in the tree that he had cornered. Casey goes wide eyed and gasping, takes some quick steps backwards and of course, splat on her butt in the river. I drag her out and hurry her back to the camp site to let the cub escape before my dog gets back.

I had found a nice rough rock and was making more progress grinding away at the axe handle than my knife was making. I was also extra motivated as Casey was now wearing my coat along with my change of pants and all I had to keep me warm during the night was two long sleeved shirts. The group returned to take note of all of Casey's clothes draped out on the bushes to dry. I finally got the axe put together, split enough wood for that evening, got a fire going in a quick hurry and dashed off to check on the horses.

Coming down the trail back to the river I heard a lot of excited chatter and a couple of little shrieks. Rounding a bend I see a couple of people on my side of the river across from our camp site. The rest were on the bank of the river making a lot of silly stupid noises. They had all waded the river and were wet from below the waist down. Across the river mama bear had put in an appearance, looking for her missing cub mostly likely, and her and my dog was having a face off. Oh frack. My gun is in my pack at the camp site. Not much I could do but wait until my dog trees her or chases her off. I crossed the river on the stones, cheating of course as my boots have Vibram soles and I was an old hand on those treacherous rocks, circled the camp and face off and waited.

It's fun and informative in a way to watch an Akita in action and I enjoyed having a ring side seat on that occasion. They look a little like a lumbering uncoordinated bear but that's a complete sham. Their sideways dashes are reminiscent of rattlesnakes and several dogs learned the hard way just how fast my dog was, along with the fact he was a cannibal. Feint, dodge, back, lunge... Olympic fencers should study them. Supposedly way back in time the Japanese used Akita's to hunt bears as a sport.
It might seem that this match was one sided with the bear several times stronger and 150 pounds heavier. One swipe of those claws and it's meat time. But that isn't taking into account the Akita. An apex predator with hundreds of generations dating back to a primal wolf that has honed it's fighting skills into a fine art while the bear is just a shambling omnivore with very minimal combat skill.

I knew what the outcome would be and circled, waiting for my chance to get to my pack. My dog finally had the bear backed far enough away and I was able to get my gun. Now came the tricky part, when I fired the dog would probably think wounded bear and move in for the kill. So I started my yelling again to get it to back down. When he did, starting a wide circle, I started firing into the dirt at the bears feet. She had enough and blitzed. I got the dog to not give chase and he was hyped. Hadn't had so much fun in months. He went into his romp mode, bouncing happy, and celebrated with a quick swim in the river.

As I was getting the fire built up I missed when Casey almost went down in the river again as the group came back across. She was soaked from the waist down this time and borrowed a pair of pants from someone. I suggested on her next trip she bring a wet suit.

Peace and quiet set in and all was right with the world. Scents of pines and sagebrush, the gurgles from the river and the desperate anguished moan from Casey as she discovered my dog had sacked out on her sleeping bag.
 

Najakeeper

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Great story but why kill the rattler?! Knowing how you care for snakes in Thailand, doesn't makes sense really.
 

Ran

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Great story ;)...I had a male brindle Akita a long time ago...they are definitely a headstrong breed built to do what you said without much noise!
 

The Snark

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Great story but why kill the rattler?! Knowing how you care for snakes in Thailand, doesn't makes sense really.
Because I'm an asshole.
Expedience: the situation in which something is helpful or useful in a particular situation, but sometimes not morally acceptable

I killed several hundred rattlers in my time spent up there. A blatant, obvious failing on my part. I could have, would have, should have... but I didn't. I had the campers, assorted dogs, and the horses to protect. I can't completely justify it, and I have regrets about every animal I've had to kill or it's death I could have prevented. I still have vivid flashes, images, of sighting down a barrel at an animal. Wakes me up sometimes. I believe this is the way it should be.

On a consoling note, the memory of a camper in my arms in extreme agony, close to going into convulsions, as I rode bat out of hell down the mountain. My own tag by a rattler, think bee sting x 10,000. I wouldn't hesitate to squeeze a trigger to this day to prevent that.
 
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Najakeeper

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On a consoling note, the memory of a camper in my arms in extreme agony, close to going into convulsions, as I rode bat out of hell down the mountain. My own tag by a rattler, think bee sting x 10,000. I wouldn't hesitate to squeeze a trigger to this day to prevent that.
This is where we differ I think. I don't give a rat's ass if someone goes to a wild animal habitat knowing the risks and suffers the consequences. And I am saying this as a snake bite survivor.
 

JumpingSpiderLady

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On a consoling note, the memory of a camper in my arms in extreme agony, close to going into convulsions, as I rode bat out of hell down the mountain. My own tag by a rattler, think bee sting x 10,000. I wouldn't hesitate to squeeze a trigger to this day to prevent that.
I didn't read your story. It's early and I'm too lazy right now, but I agree with this 100%. I love snakes, but humans and dogs are more important.
 

The Snark

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This is where we differ I think. I don't give a rat's ass if someone goes to a wild animal habitat knowing the risks and suffers the consequences. And I am saying this as a snake bite survivor.
No, I don't believe we differ, at least not to a great degree. I've had a number of long talks with myself, so to speak. And recrimination, which I abhor when others do it but I apply freely to myself.

I took a job where a part of my duties were protecting the horses, the domestic animals, and the campers. I took the job knowing full well I could be called upon to kill wildlife. As it turned out, the location we were in called upon me to deal with rattlesnakes on an almost daily basis. I was also obligated to protect myself as I was the only person competent and capable of protecting the campers and the horses.

Conversely, it could be justly claimed we had no business being there. It was designated a primitive wildlife area. But if I didn't do it, someone else would have taken the job.
So I could have shirked and let someone else do the job.

But I also view things from another perspective. I disliked killing animals and when the job required it I did my utmost to assure they were killed in as fast and painless manner possible. ALWAYS. Would someone else have been that meticulous?

This extended beyond snakes. I was required to carry a high powered rifle if I had to deal with bears. I chose the most powerful rifle I could afford. If I had to put down a large animal I wanted it dead instantly.
In the time I worked there I had to put down two bears, 3 wounded/maimed deer and 7 horses. None suffered. I also, on numerous occasions, found ways of scaring off animals that presented a hazard though I was fully within my rights, and even obligated, to put them down. As the mom and cub in that first post on this thread.

Am I justifying my actions? Yes. But I strongly feel I was the lesser of evils.

About a year ago we had a kitten. A loved that litlle snork. She would insist on riding in the basket on my bike. Rode with me the day before. Then there she was, mangled in agony having been ran over. All I had was a heavy machete. She died instantly with my first hit. Much faster than going in and getting the gun. At least an hour faster than taking her to a vet. What would you have done?

I would very much like to hear more of your take on all this, as honest as you please. I doubt if you could chew me out more than the rations I have given myself over the years.
 

Najakeeper

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No, I don't believe we differ, at least not to a great degree. I've had a number of long talks with myself, so to speak. And recrimination, which I abhor when others do it but I apply freely to myself.

I took a job where a part of my duties were protecting the horses, the domestic animals, and the campers. I took the job knowing full well I could be called upon to kill wildlife. As it turned out, the location we were in called upon me to deal with rattlesnakes on an almost daily basis. I was also obligated to protect myself as I was the only person competent and capable of protecting the campers and the horses.

Conversely, it could be justly claimed we had no business being there. It was designated a primitive wildlife area. But if I didn't do it, someone else would have taken the job.
So I could have shirked and let someone else do the job.

But I also view things from another perspective. I disliked killing animals and when the job required it I did my utmost to assure they were killed in as fast and painless manner possible. ALWAYS. Would someone else have been that meticulous?

This extended beyond snakes. I was required to carry a high powered rifle if I had to deal with bears. I chose the most powerful rifle I could afford. If I had to put down a large animal I wanted it dead instantly.
In the time I worked there I had to put down two bears, 3 wounded/maimed deer and 7 horses. None suffered. I also, on numerous occasions, found ways of scaring off animals that presented a hazard though I was fully within my rights, and even obligated, to put them down. As the mom and cub in that first post on this thread.

Am I justifying my actions? Yes. But I strongly feel I was the lesser of evils.

About a year ago we had a kitten. A loved that litlle snork. She would insist on riding in the basket on my bike. Rode with me the day before. Then there she was, mangled in agony having been ran over. All I had was a heavy machete. She died instantly with my first hit. Much faster than going in and getting the gun. At least an hour faster than taking her to a vet. What would you have done?

I would very much like to hear more of your take on all this, as honest as you please. I doubt if you could chew me out more than the rations I have given myself over the years.
I understand your reasoning mate and it is good to have someone who knows how to dispatch an animal properly and humanely when it needs to be done. As for the kitten, once I was sure that the animal would die of the injuries, I would probably kill it as you have done. The only difference is I would probably mangle it as I am not at all experienced in killing things.

On the other hand, I am a weird guy when it comes to animals. Even feeding live insect prey bothers me and I cannot feed live vertebrate prey to snakes anymore unless absolutely necessary. If I was in your position with the rattlers, I would collect the snakes and relocate them where there are no camps/people/horses/livestock etc. I understand that it is a monumental task in that case but I can't help myself.

Internally, I hate the fact that we have multiplied so much and we are destroying the planet. And I know that with the habitat destruction happening rampantly all around the world, one guy moving snakes a few kilometers doesn't mean shit but that's me. One example, we had a great worker in my father's property and he took care of the plants and the sheep we had. We have had lost 2 sheep to snake bite that year and he was looking for the snake. I have clearly told the guy to call me if he sees the snake and not touch the animal. He found a Vipera ammodytes and killed it with a shovel. I fired him immediately knowing that he was a great worker overall and I don't mind people disobeying what I have instructed but he had killed an animal that could have been relocated out of anger, because of the dead sheep.

Anyway, I am not out there to criticise you. I am sure you have done a lot more than me for animals. Just my perspective of things.
 

The Snark

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I didn't read your story. It's early and I'm too lazy right now, but I agree with this 100%. I love snakes, but humans and dogs are more important.
Who are we, to judge so casually the value of a life? The poorly educated yeehaw goes out and pops a few squirrels and rabbits. I go out, well versed in the stern eternal laws as written in the Upanishads, holding the tenet of life safety and the alleviation of suffering alongside my compassion for other travelers on this ball of dirt. I've probably killed more animals than the yeehaw. Who is more right?

A wise man once said, "Within each man lies a lesser man whose presence stinks in the sun." I've always tried to not reek too bad.

And the other ironies of life. I've been the scene commander on three occasions where I was in charge of triage and I decided three humans should be left to die for a greater good. Playing god, perchance, old bean?
 

The Snark

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On the other hand, I am a weird guy when it comes to animals. Even feeding live insect prey bothers me and I cannot feed live vertebrate prey to snakes anymore unless absolutely necessary. If I was in your position with the rattlers, I would collect the snakes and relocate them where there are no camps/people/horses/livestock etc. I understand that it is a monumental task in that case but I can't help myself.
I'll quote Stoppard here. "Life is a gamble at terrible odds. If it was a bet you wouldn't take it."
I'm never going to call answering to the highest quality a person can possess, compassion, being weird.
 

JumpingSpiderLady

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Who are we, to judge so casually the value of a life?
Importance of animals is in the eye of the beholder. I love the dog, horse or whatever, therefore, it is more important. Does this mean I don't hold any value to the life of a snake? No.
Why are humans more important than snakes? Well, my view on that is Bible based, so I won't discuss it here, but I will say, it's not a judgement I made, just one I agree with.
We are individuals with individual views. Neither of us is going around killing things willy nilly, so it's a comfortable disagreement.
 

The Snark

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Importance of animals is in the eye of the beholder. I love the dog, horse or whatever, therefore, it is more important. Does this mean I don't hold any value to the life of a snake? No.
Why are humans more important than snakes? Well, my view on that is Bible based, so I won't discuss it here, but I will say, it's not a judgement I made, just one I agree with.
We are individuals with individual views. Neither of us is going around killing things willy nilly, so it's a comfortable disagreement.
I doubt it would be possible to find any book more hypocritical than the bible when it comes to the value of a life. But consider this,

The bible in between advocating violent murders, "Ye are all gods and all children of the most high."
Or Arjuna has Krishna draw his chariot between the two armies. He looks upon those opposing forces and sees beloved family and friends upon both sides and Krishna, the highest divinity and his sage council, bids him make war.
Right thought, right mind, right actions... the eigthfold path of Buddhism taking into account the tenet, 'Within each man lives an unborn or unawakened divinity.

So we possess both godhood and demons and the onus is upon us to ever better understand and realize that divinity that dwells within us. Life is sacred, yet we must kill to survive. The choice lies before all beings and in the end, we all walk Hel's paths and are judged by our actions in accordance to the degree of dignity that we live our lives.

(Feel free to call me a pantheon jumper. )
 
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JumpingSpiderLady

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You are free to your thoughts. You don't have to agree with mine. I won't go into this further here. Feel free to send me a pm if you'd like to allow me to defend my beliefs. I won't be at all offended if you don't want to though.
You seem to be an intelligent, respectable person. My view on that has not changed. I don't know what you thought of me before, but I hope your opinion on my religious views doesn't overshadow your previous thoughts so much as to change what you think of me as a person.
 

The Snark

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You seem to be an intelligent, respectable person. My view on that has not changed. I don't know what you thought of me before, but I hope your opinion on my religious views doesn't overshadow your previous thoughts so much as to change what you think of me as a person.
Your religious views mean very little to me. A tenet from our belief: Heed the mans words yet listen to his heart. What you type are just words but your heart comes through them for those who would listen. We do not need to know @Najakeeper's religion to hear the compassion in his heart in what he typed above..
Adherence to a religion is nothing more than aspiring to a higher set of established principles. In and of itself neither good nor bad. It's not the religion but what you do with your religion. Gott Mitt Uns was a true and real to one person as 'All life is sacred' to another.
 
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JumpingSpiderLady

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My view: killing a snake=wrong
Killing a snake to save a human or dog=justified. Not wrong
If there was another option, such as relocation, sure. I'd do that.

Your view: killing a snake=wrong
Killing a snake to save a human or dog=justified, but still morally wrong.
If there is another option, such as relocation, sure. You'd do that.

Am I understanding you correctly? It seems we mostly agree.
 

The Snark

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Am I understanding you correctly? It seems we mostly agree.
We agree. Beyond that, I don't know myself well enough. I can casually kill an animal or even a human. Then the other day I put my foot down with my other. We will never get another dog or allow our cats outside. I've buried 7 animals in our yard and have drawn a line in stone: enough is enough. Maybe I've gone le fruitcake.
 

Najakeeper

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The part I don't agree is that killing a snake to "save" a person or a dog scenario doesn't exist in a practical world. It is just an excuse to kill an animal.

For Ex:
-You see a toddler toddling towards a venomous snake
-You are not close enough to grab the kid
-The kid will not listen if you shout
-You happened to be armed at that moment
-You are a great shot

Yeah maybe that one in a million fluke. :)

In almost all cases snake can be grabbed, bagged and released somewhere else. We humans are masters of pre-emotive strikes when it comes to wildlife and if we see a snake where humans can venture, boom the animals poses threat and must be dealt with.

As for Abrahamic religious texts, the amount of human lives lost everyday explains what they have thought to the world when it comes to respecting life. An average Stephen King book would be less destructive.
 

The Snark

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The part I don't agree is that killing a snake to "save" a person or a dog scenario doesn't exist in a practical world. It is just an excuse to kill an animal.
Well..... I'm not debating you. A one in a million under those circumstances. And I reiterate, I used a lot of expedience.

Now let me run a VERY typical scenario by you. I could cite well over 100 similar. Thinking back. June, normal load of campers. Only had 22 horses. I'll pick a pack trip that Casey was along on! That'll work fine.
-Okay, recalling. Start my day at 05:00. Feed all horses and get grain in all horses except 4. Those 4 don't need it and it just makes them feisty. Check shoes, clean hooves as they eat. Tack and saddle as they finish. I'm now on a clock. Some horses get burn out from being saddled too long. Get the horses arranged by temperament and who will pick a fight with who.
-Dash in and cook the campers brekky, get dishes done, finish up loading the packs. All the horses have large saddlebags carrying the campers individual items. They must be equal weight side to side.
Load grain into the bottom of the packs to balance.
-Match the riders to the horses. Some horses are slower than snail snot all the way up to some will bolt. Once on the trail each horse must stay in line. If one bolts and tries to pass another horse, the packs will get torn loose, the horse may get shoved off the trail or a rodeo may start as other horses get feisty.
-Had 18 riders. 6 reliably experienced on trail riding, some that knew everything but packing? Right. And some green as grass. Had to keep track of them all. This trip I didn't have a helper and no pro rider so I kept them all in one group.
-Packed two horses with grain, bales of alfalfa and camping gear. BG could handle a 250 lb load, Cholla only 200. Set them off on their own. They would make their own way up the mountain and less work for me.
-Got the horses out on the trail, riders mounted and did the double check on the cinches. I'd have to check again every few minutes for the entire 18 mile ride.
-3 miles up the trail and got a charger. Expecting her to a-hole as the rider was too idiot. Charged her down with my horse. Scaring the crap out of both horse and rider. Back in order.
-Rode tail on the steep shale slide. Noted two loose saddles and one horse is favoring a back right.
-Up on the point, Go over all tack and retighten. Get the rock out of that horses hoof. Do a little musical riders to better suit them to the horses.
-Quarter mile up past the point. First rattler. About 20 feet off the trail. Stand guard while the horses pass. I only had my heavy side arm and a couple horses would spook and those riders would probably screw up with that bang.
-Halfway. 3 hours into the ride. 3 riders hurting. Probably going to have saddle sores. Decide to swap horses for them.
Check all tack and cinches very thoroughly. That bad part is coming up. Reiterate the feet out of stirrups training for all riders. If the horse slips and starts off over the edge, roll off the horse towards the cliff side.
-Past the cliff and into the upper flats. Let everyone take a break for a few. Some horses are getting winded, Unacclimated.
-Up over the pass. All down hill now. But thick 5 foot high sage and a gully bears like to use as a highway. Get down to the river without incident. Couple of saddles have ridden up onto the horses necks. Make mental note to find saddles with tighter withers for them of possible. One horse needs a hackamore. Looks like he's rabid with a roller bit after a while. Another mental note.
-Cross the river. nearly 6 hours ride. I've done it alone on my horse bareback in just over a half hour. Moving at the speed of the slowest horse.
-Second rattler, only a couple of feet uphill of the trail. Glad I was riding point. Horses too dogged out to spook now. I pop it.
-Ride on ahead and open the corral. Big pain in the ass. A bush by the hitching rail has a rattler nest. So have to crowd the horses while I check. Pop another rattler just as the group comes up. All clear I get the horses to the hitching rail. Untack, send the campers off to set up camp. Send the horses into the meadow and corral then make a dash on my horse to check the fence and see if he picks up bear scent.
-Round up my two pack horses.
-Grain the horses in the corral then turn them loose. Get the fire lit and start dinner. Get people fed then wait until just after dark and make a 3 mile circuit around the entire area on my horse. Have a cougar in the area and want to see if it's been coming close.
-Next AM, 04:30. Check for rattlers, ride the fence, check on the horses. Busy day ahead. Three groups want to go in three different directions. Got shoeing to do. Picked up cougar scent and want to find time to see where it's hunting zone is at the moment.

Okay, you tell me where I would have time to abandon the riders and horses, grab the rattlers and take them off into the gulleys to the south 3 miles during that trip. Risking my life to some extend and a very possible major rodeo without me and my horse keeping the rest in line. And please, keep in mind running a long train like this solo equates to 14 to 18 hour days from first graining to taking the horses back to the high country a week later.

As side note. I read the name Casey here on AB a few dozen times before I connected her with that camper of the same name. Shows where my head was at. Could memorize all the quirks of 20 horses but not remember a camper's name.

* Explanation. These weren't half robotic mules like used on Grand Canyon rides. They were all pleasure riding horses with some spunk. They also all wore saddlebags on the train making them about 3 feet across. So each train trip was a study in disaster prevention.
 
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