Since arriving in September of 2006, I have experienced the deaths of 19 horses. I have had to hold the tubing with the lethal drugs in the euthanization of three and physically participate in pulling the horse that was shot out of the estuarine reserve. I watched it be hauled out of the bed of our truck by a winch for necropsy. Gruesome to say the least. These images are a permanent part of my memories. For a tender-hearted person, it can be totally overwhelming. I am a very strong woman but the last four years have definitely taken a toll on me.
On October 22nd, a healthy 3 month old foal was found dead alongside an intersection of a sand road in Carova. Necropsy determined the cause of death as a trauma to the cranium. She was number 19. I saw her with her mother shortly after she was born. Each time something like this happens, it is impossible not to relive all the previous events to some extent.
I know that before our fulltime staff came, countless numbers of wild horses suffered and died unnoticed and undocumented. I know that because the strong survive and the weak do not, that is why the wild horses are still here. The strongest are left to carry on. But it is the deaths with no definitive answer as to the circumstances that caused it that haunt me the most, as well as the deaths that we know were caused by individuals and remain unsolved and unpunished.
My only consolation is the successful rescues - Uno, Tresie, Sunny, Hope, Croatoan, Manteo, Pomiac, Suerte, Tradewind, Valor, Barb, and hopefully Rainbow. Without rescue and the highest level of medical care available, they would have certainly suffered and died. There are also numerous horses that have been treated in the trailer or in the field and released and I feel very good about this. I am so proud that we have a herd manager that is as highly skilled and knowledgeable as he is compassionate. It is also so gratifying to have volunteers who are willing to drop everything and help at a moment’s notice.
But sometimes it’s just harder to focus on the good that you know you are doing instead of the frustration caused by what you don’t know. I need some answers and I until I get them, I will always have a piece of my heart that is broken.