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.