Chestnut mare falls during trail ride, goes missing in remote area of Routt County |

Chestnut mare falls during trail ride, goes missing in remote area of Routt County

Sarah Rakowski on her dream horse, River, who went missing Aug. 20 after horse and rider took a tumble during a trail ride in a remote part of Routt County northwest of Steamboat Springs.
courtesy photo

— Sarah Rakowski was fortunate that her foot wasn’t caught in the stirrup when her little chestnut mare, River, lost her footing Aug. 20, fell to the ground and rolled over during a trail ride in a remote area of Routt County. Now, she only wants her dream horse back.

“My friends were absolutely terrified I was going to get dragged,” Rakowski said. “I came close enough. It was really slow motion. We were standing on the shoulder of a road, and the soil just collapsed. She fell down. I came off. She stood up, and I stood up. She started to walk forward, look around at me, and it was like, ‘see you later.’”

She hasn’t seen the horse since.

The incident took place northwest of Steamboat Springs on the eastern end of Routt County Road 56 closer to Elk River than Hayden. Slightly to the west of the location is the landmark peak, Pilot’s Knob.

River is a gaited horse, and among other things, that means she can cover a lot of ground at a fast walk. Rakowski was with three other riders when she and her horse went to the ground.

As the mare lit out for parts unknown, one horsewoman remained with the fallen rider while the other two pursued River. One of those two horses became skittish, so the pursuit was called off before any more mishaps occurred.

Now, Rakowski’s biggest concern is River’s wellbeing.

“I’m so worried,” Rakowski said. “She has her tack on. I’m worried she’s going to get hung up (in a tree branch, for example). If she gets the reins hung up, they’re designed to break away. But that saddle is not coming off.”

Rakowski is hoping other people will keep an eye out for River, whom she named for the horse’s crooked white blaze that appears to meander similar to a stream. But, she has no expectations that people will look for her — the horse went missing on public land but in an area dominated by a large private ranch.

Rakowski alerted the ranch manager to the runaway horse, and he told her that hunting guides, who are heading into the field this week to set up camps, would keep an eye out for the mare. Her husband has also been up twice in an airplane piloted by a friend to look for River without success.

The mare’s owner figures the best chance of catching up to the horse, who used to be known as “Ginger,” is that the horse could be making a beeline for her former home corral near Sleeping Giant.

Before River and Rakowski got together, River had another owner who treated her well and named her Ginger. Although, the mare and her new owner had been on six or seven trail rides in the last month, Rakowski had only owned her for two weeks. She said River is remarkably easy to work with — easy to catch in the pasture and willing to stand still for grooming.

“She’s a very sweet horse. She’s my dream horse. I’ve been wanting a horse for a very long time,” Rakowski said. “I’m a little emotional about it, but trying really hard to just stay positive. She’s got water and she’s got food, so I hope her herding instinct leads her to another horse.”

If anyone spots River, they can call Sarah Rakowski at 970-846-6625.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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