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Horace The Grand Canyon Mule
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This story is about a mule who lives in the state of Arizona, USA, and is employed at the Grand Canyon as a mule train equine.
His preferred job is taking tourists down to the Grand Canyon floor for overnight camping at the Phantom Ranch.
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved out by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States.
It is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and attains a depth of over a mile.
The overnight rides go deep into the canyon and stay overnight at the Phantom Ranch.
Horace is a handsome mule with soft brown eyes, long ears, thin limbs, small narrow hooves and a short brown mane. He is an intelligent, muscular, athletic and sure-footed equine.
He has been working at the Grand Canyon for nine years and has a perfect safety record.
So far, under his watch, no tourist rider has been injured or lost down the narrow winding trail, although there had been several close calls.
This is a story of some adventurous trips taken down and back up the Grand Canyon with Horace.
His usual rider is a Native American-Indian from the Navajo tribe named "Bidzil", which signifies strength.
On one exciting trip, Bidzil was delivering supplies to the Phantom Ranch with four other rider less mules who had pack saddles on.
Halfway down, in the intense heat, one of the mules with a loaded pack saddle fell sick and stumbled off the path.
He slid off the trail cliff edge; however, an overhand ledge prevented him from falling further down to the bottom.
Bidzil reined in Horace and dismounted, signalling for him to hold steady as he tied one end of the rope to his saddle horn.
He then climbed down the cliff to the edge and removed the loaded pack from the mule to lighten the load.
He proceeded to wind the rope around the stricken mule's stomach and yelled for Horace to back up.
Horace moved back and the support from the rope twisted the fallen mule around such that he was able to now get to his feet on the ledge.
Bidzil halted Horace and then moved a step forward so he could loosen and retie the rope to the mule's upper body.
Then Horace started to walk forward and pull the mule slowly up the steep slope.
The sick mule walked angularly up the slope with the aid of Horace's strong rope support.
On another thrilling trip, this time with several mule train riders, the weather suddenly turned bad on the downward trip and it started to rain heavily. The wind became strong and gusty, causing the narrow trail to become dangerously slippery.
Bidzil was the guide riding in front on Horace and he led the train cautiously inside the long rock tunnel.
He stopped the mule train and instructed the riders to dismount just as he had done.
The lightning, that was followed closely by a loud crash of thunder, was evidence that the storm was right above them.
One of the riders panicked and ran out of the tunnel and down the path.
Horace saw him leave and went after him as he knew that Bidzil had ordered everyone to stay inside the tunnel until the storm passes.
Bidzil was occupied with calming two other tourists that he did not see the frantic man run out of the tunnel.
Horace ran past the frightened rider and turned to face him, blocking any further movement from him down the dangerous curvy section of the trail.
Horace knew every foot of the trail; he was certain that the man would have missed the turn and fallen over the cliff.
Horace saved the man's life by forcing him back inside the tunnel.
After the storm passed and they remounted their mules, they rode slowly, with the help of their guide, around the dangerous curvy part of the trail.
Horace had stopped him just short of the curve in the trail.
He then realised the danger he had been in and at the next rest stop, he dismounted and gently whispered to Horace. He stroked his neck and Horace understood.
Another eventful mule train trip occurred when going down the Phantom Ranch.
Horace had been the lead mule and there were 10 tourist riders, most of whom had never ridden a horse, much less a mule.
The trip went smoothly down to the Indian Garden for lunch, although several new riders got leg cramps from riding for over 2 hours.
The first time they dismounted, they were walking funnily as their legs were widely bowed.
They removed their lunch bags from the saddle pack and sat down to have a nice lunch.
Then they continued the 10-mile trip down to the Phantom Ranch, crossing the Colorado River over a narrow suspension bridge.
They rode their mules into the corral and proceeded to the cabins to rest and clean up before dinner.
They had a delicious steak dinner with baked potato, salad and refreshment, which was all included in their trip package.
After dinner, they went back to their cabins and rested prior to going out that night.
The Park Ranger built a bonfire and told stories about the Grand Canyon.
They all sat around the bonfire and listened to the Park Ranger's stories and sang old-time songs like, "She'll Be Coming Around The Mountain."
The next morning, they planned to return to the top of the Grand Canyon by taking the South Kaibab Trail, but one of the riders was missing.
He apparently had other ideas. He woke up early before the rest and left his cabin with his fishing gear.
He walked along the Colorado River to fish prior to returning.
This wasn't the best idea from him as he had not gone far when he met with danger in the form of a thirsty, tawny-coloured cougar drinking water from the river.
The cougar hissed and growled at him so the man backed up slowly and stared back, also making himself appear larger by opening his coat and stretching it out with his hands.
This decision, however, was a wise one. The cougar got scared and did not attack, giving him enough time to back away into the woods.
After waiting for an hour at the campsite for the missing rider, Bidzil decided to send Horace to track him.
Horace was pleased that Bidzil had selected him to find the missing man.
He went to the lost rider's mule and sniffed on his saddle for a scent. He started tracking along the Colorado River.
Horace knew he was on the right track as the scent became stronger. He increased his pace along the riverbed channel.
He finally got to the spot where the cougar had been drinking earlier and he paused, wondering what had happened.
The scent led him into the woods where he walked cautiously and found the very frightened rider.
The rider climbed on Horace's saddle and rode back to the ranch where Bidzil and the other riders were still waiting.
They shouted loudly, "Good work Horace; you're an angel."
The riders had spectacular views on their return trip up the South Kaibab Trail.
It was an easier and shorter climb, they stopped on the way up to rest the mules and take pictures.
On top of the Grand Canyon, they had a bus waiting to take them back to their vehicles.
They were all pleased with this adventure and hugged their mules to say goodbye.
If you enjoyed this story, Dennyk has created many more (see further down), to register for more Free Stories please click below or click the Free Story Access button top left on this page.
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Retiring in 2000, Dennyk rekindled his childhood interest in children's stories first triggered by his father's funny stories, by completing a children's writing course.
Dennyk is married with two children and four grandchildren who live in Europe. His wife runs an animal rescue centre called 'Lillies of the Field', some of the animals feature in his stories.
Dennyk grew up in North Dakota, gaining a BSME from the State University, moving to Ohio in 1955, France in 1964, England in 1978, Canada in 1984 and returning to Ohio in 1990.
Here's a list of just some of Dennyk's stories which are rotated on this page one at a time and available to registered readers. The entire collection is available immediately to those registered for Unlimited Children's Stories (see Free Story Access above).
Black And Blue
Bonbon And Buzzy
Camping Gone Bad Canuck Cowgirl
Catch And Release
Dinky And Chomper
Dreama Talking Cockatoo
Fair And Square
Flowers And Birds
Huey And Yogi
Jake And Lill
Jeremy The Flyer
My Dog Jeremy
Someone Ill Be
The Five Germs
The Lone Ranger
The Majestic 6 Plus 1
The Three Boars
Thanks for your interest and happy reading.