After the first week of grazing on the mesa, the horses had fallen into a routine. They would bring themselves up on the mesa around 8 AM. Then they would take a drink from the water tanks and wander off away from the cabin to graze. They were now going quite a distance from the cabin, and Janie was worried that they would stray too far and would not be able to find their way back to home base.
For this reason Janie and Bill decided to see exactly where those horses were. There was an old rutted faint road that led to the back of Janie’s property, and Janie and Bill started down that. After walking about a half mile they saw some horses grazing, but there were only six of them, including the buckskin, Corona. Folly, the Appaloosa mare, and Angel with her stable mates from the track were missing. There were tracks leading toward an old abandoned road that ran from White Oaks to the base of Carrizo mountain where there is an old lodge and a cabin that may have been used back in the days when White Oaks was a gold rush town.
When they reached the road, there were more tracks leading up toward the mountain and Janie had a sinking feeling that those horses were headed in that direction. Rather than continue up the road which was impassable except on foot or horseback, Janie decided to go back to the cabin because finding the missing horses on foot was near to impossible.
Much to her surprise when they arrived back at the cabin, there were all the horses, standing peacefully around the water tank. Then, again to Janie’s surprise, after resting awhile, all the horses of their own accord trooped back down off the mesa. Their routine was now established and without human interference they knew exactly what to do when night approached and the predators prowled. Never underestimate the homing instinct of a horse.
The Perils of Winter Approach