Horse survived 6 weeks alone in snow after owner abandoned her

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A six-year-old mare that had been abandoned in the deep snow in the back country at Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming, at the end of a hunting trip survived 6 weeks alone. According to her owner, BJ Hill, the proprietor  and operator of Swift Creek Outfitters and Teton Horseback Adventures, the horse named Valentine had become extremely ill and “had all the signs of dying.” At that point, Valentine was left on her own; Hill was sure a predator would have killed her in an area known for wolves.

Not so at all, because on December 14, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported a trail groomer spotted the dark-coated mare, albeit extremely gaunt and pawing at the drifts to find any hidden grass,  standing out in the deep snow. He contacted the Shosone National Forest’s Wind River ranger station in Dubois. By the next morning U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Dirk Chalfant found out who the horse belonged to and what had occurred:

“What I discovered is this horse had probably been in there for six weeks, and at a least three of those weeks it was probably in about five feet of snow and occasionally 30 below zero,” stated Chalfant.

And then came the plans for her rescue after Hill was told his horse had survived. Through ungroomed trails and snow still falling, Chalfant, Hill and Hill’s son loaded up some hay for Valentine and used a snowmobile to finally find her. When Valentine spotted her rescuers, she made it quite clear she had no intentions of being left behind again.

“She didn’t want to spend another night back there alone,” Chalfant said. “If we had to leave her and drive away, I think she would have been heartbroken.”

Thanks to the groomer who first spotted the horse, he was able to carve out a rough path and then the men built a road behind her. Attached by a lead rope, the snow was packed down by the men, as Valentine happily made her way out of Fish Creek Trail. For the next eight hours, the horse, at her own pace traveled nearly 20 miles through the deep snow; she had no “quit” in her. And when the men and Valentine reached the road, a trailer was ready to take her home to Pavillion.

Some true stories are just stranger than fiction. Welcome home Valentine.  (Photo of horse survived courtesy of US Forest Service.)

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  1. I hope the horse wasn’t returned to the “owner”. BJ Hill doesn’t deserve her. What kind of person would leave a beloved horse alone to die from predators???

  2. Well I TOO live and have ALL MY 68 years and I am not DAMN BIT impressed with the Asshole Hill who just left the horse so the wolves could kill her if she didn’t freeze to death or starve First!!! Good thing I don’t live on that side of the Mountain. I have GREAT RESPECT for US FOREST SERVICE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER Dirk Chalfant for making the arrangements and getting the hay and assisting in the effort to save VALANTINE. Chalfant should have then kicked Hill’s ass and filed Cruelty Charges against him!!! Taken the very lucky mare and placed her with someone who would care for her….

    • I have WYOMING ALL MY LIFE!!!!! THIS TYPE of CRUELITY I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF I SUGGEST that EVERY IN AGREEMENT WRITE TO THE WYOMING STATE DEPARTMANT of GAME AND FISH LOCATED IN OUR CAPITAL OF CHEYENNE WYOMING ALSO THE STATE LICENSING BOARD OF OUTFITTERS… THEY HAVE TO PROCURE a LICENSE TO OUTFIT IN THIS STATE and THIS ( HILL OUTFITTING guiding under the name of “Swift Creek Outfitters, and Teton Horse Adventures ) NEEDS to be run out of business… I am certainly going to write!!! The Jackson Newspaper also…. Jackson is the home of the ULTRA RICH and FAMOUS … Harrison Ford, Dick Chaney, and billionaire upon billionaire!!!

  3. BJ Hill!!! A p.o.s. asshole!You leave her because it looks like.she’s dying?……How about staying with her or putting her down instead of leaving her to be ripped apart by predators! Gals she wasn’t put down but to leave her was rotten of you!!

  4. Not only should the horse NOT be given back to the owner(s), but they should have their business closed and other horses taken from them. EVEN if the horse WAS dying, this was one of the single most inhumane ways of dealing with it I’ve ever heard. of. That the horse survived for six weeks in the snow and cold, I highly suspect it was NOT dying (although who knows how it’s doing now – we’ll have to wait for updates).

  5. I hope the owner who left the horse to die, knowing wolves were in the area, gets arrested on federal charges. Surely such deliberate cruelty is illegal in WY, esp in a national forest.

  6. There is more than one formal complaint on this nut job………..

    To: Wyoming State Board of Outfitters & Professional Guides 12/7/16
    Fm: Brian Patten


    ATTN: Mr. Dan Hodge

    Dear Sir,

    I thank you for your assistance in this investigation and for your organizations service – both to the public and hunters who cherish Wyoming hunting privileges.

    To start off – myself and a very good and longtime friend of mine and Shipmate, Mr. Keith Bennet, were camping at Pacific Creek campground from about Oct 3nd – Oct. 23nd, 2016. Our intent was to Elk Hunt in this area. Please verify both our licenses issued AND Keith’s Resident Guide permit authorized in town the day we arrived.

    On or about 22nd of October at aprox. 1615 hrs – Mr. BJ Hill came to our camp, exited his vehicle (Truck and horse trailer) and approached me standing at the camp fire , in a very hostile manner accusing me of Poaching and “ hauling out elk with my truck from this area for the past 3 weeks”. I did not know who this individual was, but noticed the Swift Creek Outfitters emblem on his truck. After referring to me as “ASSHOLE”, Keith heard the ruckus from his location inside the camper and came out to ask this individual what his story was – stating to him “you did this to my wife and I last year also”. Keith was very cool-headed and was honestly trying to establish verbal dialogue with Mr. Hill to sort his accusations out. Mr. Hill would not engage in any discussion, instead stated that he was going to call some guy named “Chis” and have us arrested, got in his vehicle and left our campsite in a highly pissed – off mood.

    Keith and I discussed the matter for about 10 minutes – with both of us deciding we should go talk to the Rangers and report the incident as this Mr. Hill seemed either not running on all eight cylinders or drunk during his performance. We knew that the Park Service was closing soon so we got into the truck and proceeded to the Park Ranger checkpoint before their closing hour. We drove up to the window
    and talked to the Park Ranger lady on duty. She informed us to go park in parking lot nearby and she would call law enforcement. About 15 minutes later she approached us and stated that this was not the first complaint lodged against this outfitter – and that a Peace Officer was en-route. Roughly 15 minutes later an Officer arrived and we explained our concern. He checked out both our identifications and authenticity of our Elk Hunting credentials. He gave us complaint forms – which we filled out – and stated that other officers were en-route to go confront Mr. Hill. For an officer to call on 2 other Officers for back-up to confront this individual showed us of his concern – verified to us both verbally that they knew of other complaints toward him. Evidently there is some sort of Jurisdictional deal around there – between PARK SERVICE/Federal Land and State land jurisdiction with regard to complaints – just as there are clear and defined rules regarding PARK LAND/FEDERAL LAND and State regarding hunting boundaries.
    Driving back to our camp site at Pacific Creek we stopped where we crossed Federal Park land to enter State Boundary land and waited for the officers. They drove up and exited their vehicles. We showed them where we have been entering – along with very apparent HORSE TRACKS where Mr. Hills party enters area also. The Officers concurred to our reasoning.
    We then went back to our campsite. About 1.5 hrs later in the dark we witnessed vehicles driving toward us up the road. Not knowing who they were we armed ourselves appropriately and immediately on site. It turned out to be the police officers coming to do a follow-up question AFTER talking to Mr. Hill at his Outfitters site. The Officers asked what exactly Keith and my relationship was. We told the officers we have known each other since sailing together in 1992 – and that they can look back at all the times we have hunted here since that date. As you are aware this can be verified through Game And Fish Records of licenses issued over the past 24 yrs. They explained again that we will be hearing from the Magistrate within 10 Days. We left camp the next day as we were both planning to anyway – but leaving knowing the only good thing about this hunt was the fact that this confrontation happened at the end – vs. the beginning as no one would want to enter the wilderness with this nut-job lurking about.
    While stopped Keith called his wife (Karen Bennett – who was also up there with legal tag a week before). After Keith informed his wife of the confrontation with the same guy a year hence, she informed him that their son (Emery Bennett) noticed this individual also a week before at our camp site. Emory was also there for a week – with legal tag and apparently, Mr. Hill thought it was ok to just park at our camp and stare at him for a while from his vehicle as some sort of bullying tactic. Emory did not mention it to any of us until after hearing about our story. We were away from camp hunting when that occurred.
    Keith and I were very impressed with the Officers tack and professionalism, and as stated previously were assured that this would be going before a Magistrate Judge and we would hear from him within 10 days. It is now December 7th – and nothing. I was able to call Keith before he shipped out and he stated that they will probably not do a damn thing about it. My immediate concern is “who got paid off”? As someone who has worked for the Federal Government for many years – this possibility bothers me a great deal. Thus – I got in touch with WY. Game and Fish Dept. (Ms. Sara DiRienzo) to inquire – which recommended I contact you.

    Please understand Mr. Hodge I am not stating I do not have any faith in your system – as we both know that sometimes things fall through the cracks on the venue of “follow-up”. In this regard – I wish at this time to respectfully ask you and your department to take the following tack in this investigation regarding thinking” outside the box ” for a moment.

    With that being stated – assume your office does nothing. A year or so passes and there is a major incident accruing with this individual to where someone gets hurt, shot, or even killed. Where do you think, this official complaint would find itself during that investigation? What I am trying to say sir is doing NOTHING about it is a bad decision – both politically, potentially or otherwise – given the above hypothetical scenario coupled with previous stated facts.
    Too far-fetched you may say? Bottom line Sir you have an individual with a trail and history of having problems with the general public and legal hunters in the venue of confrontations, who is licensed by your organization and State. A hot-head who assumes way too much with his supposed jurisdiction of owning the woods, and who thinks it is perfectly ok to approach guests with a very hostile intent, directly to people who poses firearms – in the brush with his brazen attitude, threats, mouth, and intimidation. I want to believe that you also can paint a very clear picture of what could pursue down the road if you decide to do nothing on this investigation. I personally would not want to be holding that bag and confident nobody in your organization would either.
    Since it has been established that Agencies have indeed noted former complaints on Mr. Hill – when confronting him there exists the plausible possibility that he may not recall his confrontation with us, specifically. Thus – to refresh his memory please remind him I was the gent in the 2016 RED RAM Rebel Truck.
    I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you will indeed pursue this inquiry and investigation and confident you can obtain our official written complaints filed with the Law Enforcement Officer ooa 22nd October 2016. If this task is too politically intriguing with the politics that may be involved – please advise and I can get my attorney to work with Governor Mead’s office directly, strictly as a last resort.
    In closing, I thank you in-advance for your conscientious obligation to verify and confirm the facts of this matter accordingly and look forward to hearing from you and your organization on your actions regarding Mr. Hill’s hostile motives against the public, law-abiding citizens and hunters within your jurisdiction.
    Capt. Brian P. Patten
    Captain Brian P. Patten – USMM
    Military Sealift Command
    Lic. # USA000217874

  7. This individual has a history of abuse. You have to ask yourself who is he paying off to maintain his outfitter license in Wy?

    Posted: Friday, November 7, 2014 4:30 am

    Family fight at hunting camp investigated as attempted strangulation By Emma Breysse Jackson Hole Daily Jackson Hole News&Guide | 0 comments

    A Pavillion man is in jail after his son accused him of putting him in a chokehold during an argument at a Teton County hunting camp.

    Billy Joe “BJ” Hill, 53, faces a charge of strangulation of a household member, which he has since denied through his lawyer.

    Sothebys/Huff – In Story Quarter #2 – 50k

    The incident occurred while Hill, his wife, his son and his son’s girlfriend were at Swift Creek Outfitters’ commercial hunting camp in Grand Teton National Park.

    A family argument broke out in which Hill and his wife verbally abused their son’s girlfriend, court files state.

    Hill is accused of attacking his son when his son stepped in to defend his girlfriend.

    He entered a written not guilty plea Nov. 3 through his lawyer, Jackson attorney Richard Mulligan.

    He remained in jail Thursday, though 9th Circuit Judge James Radda set his bail at a $5,000 unsecured bond at his initial appearance in court.

    After his son stepped between Hill and his girlfriend, Hill allegedly tackled him and put him in a two-armed chokehold.

    His son told deputies he believed he was “done,” and his girlfriend reported that he “turned blue” before his father released him.

    The two left the camp and called the authorities from a nearby pullout.

    Hill’s next court appearance, a preliminary hearing to establish whether there is probable cause to send the case on to District Court, is scheduled for Dec. 11.

    Strangulation of a household member is a felony punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

    JHSIR-InStoryNewsStrip 50k

    • I too live in Wyoming: have forever! The Jackson Hole ,and surrounding area if full of the rich and famous , including Harrison Ford, Vice President Dick Cheney, along with numerous others… Sir I understand your concern, and yes I would contact Matt Mead, Governor, after all his family has a large ranch themselves in that area , and they have a multitude of investments…. Wyoming has been often noted as the ” Equality State” myself I consider it the “Good OLE BOY STATE” … ” I made the comment to a state official that I had and issue with after I how had worked diligently for over 10 years for the state and was involved in a more or less “set up incident” that “Wyoming the Equality State is really Equality only if One doesn’t work for the State” Guess what I didn’t after speaking up for myself… Remember Now Wyoming was the “First State of give Women the Right to Vote!!

  8. Folks – want this really addressed to the top – write to ALCON below ( Governor mead’s Office) – and ask them who has been possibly paid off to keep this guy registered under the State.

    From: MV Cape Edmont
    Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 9:03 PM
    To: ‘[email protected]
    Cc: ‘[email protected]’; ‘[email protected]’; ‘[email protected]’; ‘[email protected]
    Subject: ATTN Mr. Barret – Is it too far fetched to think there is a possibility of a represntative in Gov. Mead’s Leadership who may be getting paid-off?

    • Horse survived 6 weeks alone in snow after owner abandoned …
    According to her owner, BJ Hill, the proprietor and operator of Swift Creek Outfitters and Teton Horseback Adventures, … According to her owner, BJ Hill, …

    Dear Mr. Barrett,

    Good day Sir. Upon reading the news about State Guide BJ Hill of Jackson getting charged with animal cruelty, I am convinced that someone within the State Administration is being paid off to keep him registered as a State Guide. This is substantiated by both the above past article on abuse ( of a human), now with regard to an animal (a horse), coupled with our formal complaint filed with the Outfitter Board most recently – to no avail – regarding this nut.

    I am asking you to investigate possible bribes being taken on his behalf – and for good reason. It is 100% substantiated Mr. Bennett, for as you are well aware Sir, nobody in their right frame of mind would allow someone like this to hold a State Guide License as he does.

    I look forward to hearing from you or Governor Mead at your earliest convenience.


    Brian Patten
    MV Cape Edmont (T-AKR 5069)

  9. I will never ever use or recommend this outfitter… He should have been left out there to fend for himself – why was this poor horse returned to this cruel person?

  10. I’ve hunted with him and their family is some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. there are two sides to every story….


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