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Forest, Lake and Prairie
Chapter XXXIV
Great horse-race - "Blackfoot," "Moose Hair," and others - No gambling - How "Blackfoot" was captured.


WHILE we were in the camp a great race was run between some famous horses. This was a trial of endurance and wind as well as speed. The race was from camp straight out and around an island of timber, and back home. The whole distance must have been between five and six miles, and although many of these Indians were inveterate gamblers, yet because of the presence of the missionaries this was omitted from the programme.

A bay horse called "Blackfoot" came in ahead, and the horse which Mrs. Hawke had loaned father from Saddle Lake. to White-fish Lake, called "Moose Hair," came in second. Our missionary, Mr. Steinhauer, told me some of the history of "Blackfoot."

Mr. Steinhauer was in the Cree camp when this was attacked by a large force of Blackfeet and their allies, and the fighting went on most of the day, the Crees, though driven in at times, still keeping the enemy away from their camp, and eventually repulsing them; and when the last successful rally was made by the Crees, one of our people gave chase to a Blackfoot, whose horse, after a long run, showed signs of distress. The "Chief Child," for that was the Cree's name, spurred on, and at last the Blackfoot abandoned his horse. "Chief Child" captured the animal, and very soon found he had a treasure, for the trouble with the horse was that his feet were worn down smooth, and he could not run. This horse, when he recuperated and his feet grew out, became famous, and was called "Blackfoot." Eventually he came into my hands, and later on I traded him to father, who kept him until "Old Blackfoot" died, and our whole family mourned for him. He was not only speedy, but the longest-winded horse I ever owned.

Many a time when I had left the other hunters, even on the start, and when their horses were winded," Old Blackfoot" seemed to be only getting down to his wind. I gave a splendid horse, a pair of blankets and 8 sterling for him, and he was worth it.

Father prized him highly, and had him with him when, in 1867, he travelled with his own rigs from the Saskatchewan to St. Paul's, in Minnesota, and when he came back, in the autumn of 1868, he brought "Blackfoot" with him.

At that race which we witnessed, "Blackfoot" came in an easy winner, and because of his reputation, the "Hawke" was quite satisfied to have his horse, "Moose Hair," come in second.


 


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