Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Feeding Was Almost Fatal

Several months ago, we ran an article in our newsletter about the serious consequences of feeding a wild horse anything that is not native to its diet. We have also discussed it previously in this blog. It bears repeating as we recently had a wild mare severely colic after being fed by residents in a rental house. She nearly died.
We received a call from a resident on a Friday afternoon who was observing the people at the rental house feeding a mare with a foal at her side. Later that evening, Herd Manager, Wesley Stallings, responded to a call about a black mare that was lying down and getting up repeatedly. She seemed disoriented. She had a foal at her side and was in the same general area as where the feeding took place. Wesley took the horse trailer up the beach and with the help of Carova Beach EMTs and other residents, he was able to capture the mare and foal.
A veterinarian from Dominion Equine Clinic examined her and pulled blood work. Normal heart rate for a horse is 28 to 40 beats per minute. This mare’s heart rate was 89, indicative of pain and distress, and it stayed elevated for over 24 hours. Early and aggressive treatment saved her life. Fortunately, this horse was located in an area where she was noticed when she began to colic. Not all horses will be that lucky. Some horses can tolerate nonnative foods better than others and do not colic. However, there is no way to determine which ones they are. THAT is why it is against the law to feed them. Feeding can be fatal. At the very least, it can cause excruciating pain. Who would knowingly want to do that to a wild horse? We have even observed visitors trying to give them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!
A horse that colics may breathe heavily or sweat and will lay down and roll repeatedly. Rolling can cause the intestines to flip and twist. If this happens to a domestic horse, immediate surgery is the only way to save its life. An intestinal blockage and high fever can occur as well. If these conditions happen to a wild horse – it’s a death sentence.
Besides being harmful to the horse – feeding is against the law. The Currituck County Wild Horse Ordinance states in Sec. 3-36. “Feeding, riding and petting prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person to feed, ride, pet or approach with the intent to feed, ride or pet any wild horse.”

Please, if you see someone putting a horse at risk, call the Corolla Wild Horse Fund immediately (252-453-8002). You may be saving the horse’s life.

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