Saving Koda

Do you ever wonder when you are with your horse, “how much does my horse really feel for me – does he/she love me?”…
You know he does, right?  I know my horse does, but I also know she sees me as the bringer of good things especially ones to eat.
I know she looks out for me too, but deep down I wonder sometimes what if…
I was talking the other day to my friend and my horse’s gifted nutritionist/healer, Lisa St. John and the topic arose about predators.
She shared with me a night encounter that she once had in 2008.  Here’s how it goes.
*       *      *
Remember the summer when fires were spreading and we all were on alert?   (In the Summer of 2008 fires were spreading throughout California and Lisa was living in Carmel Valley at the time.)

It was causing a lot of the native wildlife to move, and cougars were coming down closer to our communities..

One night in July in the middle of a deep sleep I suddenly awoke, sat straight up and jumped out of bed knowing there was something wrong with the horses.  I rushed out into the dark towards the pasture to check on them.  They were panicked.  Then I saw a large shape on Koda and new it was a cougar.  He was on Koda’s back and had a hold of Koda’s  neck.  From his position on Koda I knew he didn’t have much time before the cougar would kill him and my only thought was to save my horse.
I raced over to them, grabbed the cougar’s tail, and pulled him off my horse….   (Lisa is small at 5’3 and weighs only 120 lbs so perhaps adrenaline had given her added strength).  With the cougar off his back I turned to Koda and at the very same  moment a black shadow came out from the distance speeding straight towards me.  It was my little black Arab, Braveheart.
In a flash he was in front of me and rearing up high.. he stood between me and the cougar… Braveheart kept rearing and I realized he was pummeling the cougar non-stop.  I’m guessing the cat had been ready to pounce on me without my knowing it.  I had turned to Koda who was standing by me and checked him from head to toe;  Koda had huge lacerations and it would have been seconds before he was killed as the cougar had him by the throat.  I was so relieved to find that he was okay… a bit shaken up, but he would be all right.  I was so thankful I got there in the nick of time.

After making sure Koda was ok, I went to check on Braveheart. He was standing  head high and pawing at the ground in the direction of the woods.  The next day, the body of the cougar was found by a neighbor;  the wild cat had died from his injuries.   

My courageous Arab, Braveheart,  saved my life.

(I asked Lisa a little more about the cougar.  She said he was big weighing in at 300 lbs.  The authorities documented his weight and size.)

A trainer had once told me that horses RUN from cougars, rarely will they fight one except if their life depends on it,  on the other hand mules WILL attack cougars.  I don’t know much about this, other than the little I’ve been told.
What I do know is that what this little black Arab did for Lisa was incredibly courageous – he risked his life to save her.   This little horse came with a huge heart and even greater courage..
Here is a photo of 3 of her horses (Koda is the paint, see how little Braveheart is?)

3 of Lisa's horses including Koda (the paint) & Braveheart (the black Arab)

I also think different horse owners have different relationships with their horses.  Some are ‘owner & horse’, like ‘owner & car’ – sad but true.  When Lisa shared her story with me, that question that pops up in my heart & mind from time to time came up again… What kind of relationship do my horse & I share?

We joked about so & so saving this life and saving that life.  I asked about Koda after having such a run-in with a cougar.  Wasn’t he traumatized?  Wasn’t he deathly afraid of cougars?

Then she related another story about Koda..

Koda  was once a rescue horse w/ Laminitis, DJD & Ringbone, but has healed and is now her endurance horse – (here is his case link) but back to the story.. Koda is her endurance horse and they trail a lot together.  Many months after he had healed from the cougar attack, Koda & she were on a trail ride in Garland Park which is located in Carmel Valley, California.  They were walking along when up ahead on the trail she saw a cougar sitting there.  Koda saw him too and instantly trembled with fright.  Lisa talked to him and told him “Koda, its only a mountain lion.  Don’t worry I’m with you… he won’t touch you – I’m on your back now… I promise, Just keep walking.. I’ve got you..”.  The cougar wasn’t leaving the trail and stood looking at them.
Koda listened to Lisa and calmed down.  The cougar ended up moving off the trail and they actually rode calmly by the big cat.
Unbelievable! but true..

Thoughts are jumping in my head.  Would my mare behave like this?  No way No how.  Not many horses would..
The level of trust that Lisa’s horses have in her is the deepest.  She told me that anyone can have this relationship with their horse.
I’m on a journey to reach it..

The end.

*       *      *

Here are some photos of Lisa & her beloved horses..


Lisa St John & Braveheart

This photo of Koda was taken by a friend a few days after the incident

Koda's neck bite from the mtn. lion attack (few days later)

Braveheart & Ti, the youngest addition to Lisa's family.

Here is Lisa St. John’s website:  LavenderSage




5 Responses to Saving Koda

  1. Kim says:

    All I have to say is wow……

  2. justequus says:

    That’s pretty much what I said!
    Lisa said she just was acting not thinking at that time..
    I’m not sure I’d have done that..
    Lisa’s my hero!

  3. Lisa St.John says:

    HA!! I believe you all would have done the same thing.. I love my babies.. It was a natural instinct.. besides I am Leo.. lions aren’t afraId of other lions.. LOL!
    Thank you for your kind comments…

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