I was near tears and my Dad, bless his heart, couldn't figure out quite what was so upsetting. I think he may have said something like we'll find 'em, as though they were obviously close by. We were in the middle of the Pacific Coast Range and the nearest highway was some miles away. Of course he was right. She was close.
I don't know if it was my Dad, or me, who decided that I should go by foot, but that's what happened. I started climbing the hill from the bottom, and my Dad drove the bike back up to the corral to see if she had come back. I climbed the hill, ducking under branches and crashing through thick underbrush, keeping my eyes peeled for Nakota's red coat. And near the top, I caught the flick of a tail swatting at a fly.
I approached cautiously, not at all sure of what I'd find. When I got close, I gasped in dismay. Nakota was standing over her foal, who was caught in a tangled mess of branches and bushes. His slender little legs were crooked and bent at awkward angles, and I wasn't even sure he was alive. I reached out and touched her hip gently. She nickered, but let me get closer. I knew I couldn't move him byself so I started shouting to my dad that I'd found them.
I was never so relieved to see my Dad's outline as when I saw him emerge through the brush. I pushed Nakota back, and my Dad gently reached under the foal and untangled his little legs. I remember seeing his heart beating through his little ribcage as my dad carried him in his arms up that steep hillside. I don't remember a halter, but Nakota followed along politely. I do remember thinking that Nakota knew we were helping. She stayed behind me as we followed my dad, but she did keep her eyes on her baby.
Dad carried the foal into the corral and set him down carefully. Nakota needed no encouragement to enter. She barged though the gate, eager to check out her baby. We closed the gate, and watched a foal try to rise for the second time. It took him a while to get on his feet and stay there, and once up, he did the same thing that all newborn foals do. He suckled at his momma's armpits, legs, belly and finally found her teats. After his escape, Nakota kept herself between her foal and the fence. There was no way she was losing him a second time!
Once everyone was safe, my dad and I took a look around. We think that Nakota laid down close to the fence and delivered her baby. When he eventually got up, he was on the wrong side. In his confusion, he must have headed the wrong way, and probably fell down the steep side of the hill. Once he was buried amongst the branches, there was no way for him to rise.
In the end, he grew up to be a very sturdy fellow who followed us around like a puppy dog. He had no fear of ropes, loud noises, or motorcycles! I eventually needed a more forward horse than Nakota, and as promised, I gave her back. Since I had raised the foal, he was mine to keep and do with as I wanted. I named him Gideon after the young man from the book of Hebrews. One of its meaning is mighty warrior. When Gideon was two, I left home for a study abroad. I sold him for $200 to a man that I knew to be good with horses.
As with Sunny, Nakota and Gideon each taught me many lessons. Nakota let me learn about "breaking" horses in the gentlest way possible, while her son taught me something about the miracle of life. Both were special teachers.