Good morning and welcome to the Western Romance Author’s Blog. I’m your host for today and the topic of discussion for today — and please do join in with me — is little known Western historical facts.
And today I thought we’d discuss the little horse that settled the West. Of course I’m talking about the mustang.
The time period is 1863 and 28 year old Conrad Kohns — a Montana prospector — is carrying $5,000.00 worth of gold, with which he plans to buy some cattle for his butcher shop in Virginia City. It is night, and he lets “Gray Billie,” a gray mustang whose long tail sweeps the ground, graze for the night.
Luckily Gray Billie wanders far that night and is rounded up by Fred Burr, a mixed blood herder who is hunting for wild ponies. When Kohrs awakens, he goes in search of Gray Billie and finds him with Burr, who warns Kohrs that Dutch John and George Ives — who are notorious road agents (robbers), are looking for Kohrs.
Quickly Kohrs saddles his gray, but soon finds that sure enough Dutch John and George Ives have found him. Riding into a stream with heavy bush around it, Kohrs unsaddles Gray Billie, throws off his blandets and throws away any heavy articles he carries. Mounting his little stead once more, Kohrs sets out again for the mining town of Virginia City, with Dutch John and George Ives soon after him.
Upon Gray Billie’s speed depends not only Kohrs gold and his future, but his very life.
Hour upon hour Gray Billie gallops over the rolling plains of Montana, through sage and splashing through streams.
Kohrs later wrote, “In spite of the rapidity with which I traveled, each mile seemed like five. Up and down hill I flew, clinging to my horse, fearing that each moment my pursuers were gaining on me and realizing that the breaking of the surcingle, a stumble of the horse would bring me to certain death.”
It was a long six hours later that Gray Billie finally raced to their destination. Writes Helen Addison Howard in her book, AMERICAN FRONTIER TALES, “Although Gray Billie’s race will never be recorded in racing annals, the tough, swift pony won a race over a hazardous course of far greater importance to his master than the winning of the Kentucky Derby.”
Do you have a story you’d like to tell about a horse or a pet? If you do, or if you’d just like to talk about something else, join in with our discussion.
It’s still fairly early here in Los Angeles. I’m off to exercise, but I’ll be back in about an hour to discuss this and other Western facts about this incredible friend of the Western Prairies.