Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunny and Suerte

Kimberlee’s Sunrise was rescued on July 9 at age 5 days. She is now 7 weeks old and just gets cuter every day. She has progressed to eating foal lac pellets and drinking milk replacer from a bowl and is being weaned from her bottle feedings. Sunny has been paired up with another formerly wild Mustang, Tracie, to teach her how to be a horse.

Without a dam, an orphaned foal misses out on the nurturing, socialization, and discipline that would be provided by its mother. They often become overly aggressive. Tracie is helping to fill some of those gaps. She has been gentle, patient, and protective of her little friend.

If Suerte (see August 5 blog) was a cat, he would have definitely used up several of his nine lives. He is a totally different colt these days. His motor skills have returned to normal and as you can see by the photo, his attitude is alert and bright. The only unknown now is if he has suffered any permanent neurological damage that may interfere with learning. Only time will tell. Regardless, we will care for him.

These little horses have the strongest will to live that I have ever seen. Although I know that in order to survive on their own for nearly five centuries, they would have to be strong willed – I am always in awe when I see it for myself. They are as tough as they gentle.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Putting Things in Perspective

Summer is drawing to a close. The last five months have been exceptionally busy and stressful. Two horses hit by vehicles resulting in euthanization. An orphaned foal to raise. A poisoned foal to care for. Domestic horses living and being ridden among the wild horses. Hours and hours of education on the beach and behind the dunes in an effort to keep visitors from feeding or getting within 50 feet of the horses. Multiple activities and projects going on simultaneously. Long hours, never ending workload. By this time of year, we are all extremely tired, and I have to admit, it is easy to become discouraged. It is all too easy to focus only on the negatives. Then, just when we need it the most, something wonderful happens. Something that reminds us all over again of how very fortunate we are to be in the presence of these incredible horses and what an honor it is to be responsible for them.

The picture above is a strong woman fighting back from the effects of a stroke and a 3 year old Colonial Spanish Mustang mare called Whispering Jesse. Two and a half years ago Jesse was a part of the wild herd. She now lives in Marshall, Texas at Karma Farms. Her new mission in life is to be the companion of Mary-Margaret. After suffering a stroke her balance problems make it difficult for her to ride but she longed for a horse to care for and love. The following is an excerpt from today’s email from Vicki Ives, one of the leading experts on Colonial Spanish Horses in the country and the owner of Karma Farms.

“Mary-Margaret wanted a critter to love, groom and adore. If Margaret would agree that little Whispering Jesse would never have to leave Karma Farms (where her best friends Splendor Splash, Adam's Eve and her one day mate, our Corolla stallion The Sea King live), we would agree to sell Jessie to Margaret to be groomed, loved, trained and eventually to be a part of the Karma Farms "dude string" for our younger riders. Margaret was so excited that she had to go and meet Jessie immediately.

I drove her to the pasture where Jessie and Splash joined us as soon as they saw my truck. Were they in for a pleasant surprise--I'd brought the feed bucket! They were "in my back pocket" immediately. I slipped on Jessie's halter and handed her lead to Margaret, delighting in the joy that bloomed in Margaret's eyes.

"She's SO beautiful!" Mary-Margaret exclaimed. ""Can I take her home and groom her?"

I hadn't crossed that bridge, hadn't considered that Margaret might want to start with her RIGHT NOW. We were 1/2 a mile from my house in a meadow full of Colonial Spanish Horses and there was no way to get Jessie back to my house and the grooming equipment unless Margaret walked her there. When I thought of a young mare asked to leave her herd in the meadow for the first time by herself and then be led down the hill, across the creek and over the Home Pasture to the house by a slightly disabled stroke victim, I had some reservations. But I had started this and I believed that Jessie was what Mary-Margaret needed. It was karma--if she could get Jessie to the house by herself on her first attempt, I'd know that this was a bonding that was designed by Someone a lot bigger than me. I show Margaret how to use her lead for a come-along if Jessie balked and watched them set out over Dairy Hill.

"If she's not at the house in 15 minutes, I'll go get Jessie for her myself," I thought. But there was no need. Before I had time to really worry, I saw Mary-Margaret and Jessie coming over the creek crossing and heading for the house. I ran for my camera and hid beside the round pen to record their success. In the shadow of a small tree so that Margaret didn't even know I was taking pictures, I recorded their first success. Enjoy!”

I thank Vicki for sharing this story and putting things back in perspective for us – especially for me. The bottom line is that these horses are very, very special. Not only are they highly intelligent, exceptionally athletic, beautiful movers, strong, brave, and adaptable – they are healers of mind, spirit, and body. “Bread may feed my body, but a horse feeds my soul.” - Anonymous

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Luck, Love and Toxins

He is a two month old colt. He doesn’t walk - he staggers. His head is either hanging down or twisted off to the side. He had forgotten how to nurse. He is oblivious to what is happening around him. He got kicked in the head by another wild horse. Blood work has shown that his liver enzymes are three times above normal. The liver is a filter. When it is compromised, more toxins build up in the body, including the brain. Without intervention, within days, death is certain.

On Monday morning, we brought a wild mare and her foal from Swan Beach. We got a call from Currituck County Dispatch about a foal in distress around 3:15 on Sunday. In the middle of a fierce thunderstorm with torrential rain and vivid lightening, CWHF staff and volunteers responded immediately. A special thanks also goes out to Ocean Rescue staffer, Patrick (I apologize from not knowing his last name) for his assistance as well. We were able to pen the foal and his mother in a beach house carport. On the advice of Dominion Equine Clinic, we treated the foal with medication onsite, and the homeowner and her daughter, kindly checked on them periodically after we left at 9:00 p.m. The foal did not improve and by 8:15 a.m. Monday, he was on our trailer with his mother.

Dr. Bart Kite met us at Wrangler Farms and thoroughly examined the foal and drew blood from both mother and foal. We continued treatment with DMSO both intravenously and with paste, as well as injections of banamine for pain. The foal continued to show no signs of improvement and we prepared ourselves for the worst.

Dr. Kite returned Tuesday with the results of the blood tests. The foal had ingested something toxic. We administered IV medicine again and as we were discussing what the course of action should be, the foal attempted to nurse for the first time in 48 hours. Momma wasn’t at all happy initially but eventually allowed him to nurse for a few minutes until he lost interest. Wesley (our Herd Manager) was able to get about an ounce of milk replacer in him via baby bottle before he collapsed. We decided to aggressively treat him another day and we named him “Suerte”, Spanish for “Lucky.” We named momma, “Amarosa”, or Love

He nursed several times during the night and at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Wesley reported that the foal’s motor skills seemed slightly improved. He is still not out of the woods by any means but we are finally encouraged.

What is NOT encouraging is the fact that he ingested something poisonous. If you live on the north beach, PLEASE, do not dump your antifreeze or anything else into the sound, the canals, ponds, puddles, or into the sand. The horses rely on what grows on the land and they drink the water. If it is poisoned – so are they.

With luck and the best veterinary care available, we pray that we can beat the toxins and restore this foal to a quality life. It is not just our job – it is our passion.