Blue could just make out the froth of white foam where the water met rock, but this bend appeared calm. Still, she could not gauge how deep or how fast the river ran, nor what was beyond the curve downstream, at least not from her perch on the banks. It would be safer to wait until sunup to attempt the crossing, Blue knew, but she was unnerved by this forbidding land.
The water that flowed around her fetlocks as she took her first tentative step into the Snake was bracingly cold. The mustang had never swum this distance before, Blue steeled herself and plunged forward toward the heart of the river.
By the time the water was to her shoulder, Blue’s hooves were dragged out from under her and she was sucked downstream so forcefully it was as if she had been struck by the eye of a hurricane. She spun 360 degrees, now swept, hindquarters first, by the sickeningly strong current. Struggling to keep her muzzle above the roiling water, the Appaloosa desperately tried to get her legs coordinated beneath her to swim, to struggle, to do anything to stop this mad catapult in the current’s grip.
It was no use; no matter how hard she pumped her legs, she was powerless against the river’s strength. She was turned helplessly around and around, and as she spun, her body collided with rocks and bracken lodged in the riverbed. Nothing seemed able to stop her painful plunge, but still Blue fought desperately. She fought for her life.