Shutting down my computer on Tuesday evening, I glanced one more time at my messages. With that last glance, I saw a plea to help an orphaned foal. I had almost shut down the computer without seeing the message. Moments like this can make your heart stop, as something so small as not seeing the message about the foal right away could end up in the loss of the foal, as time is of the essence. I quickly responded, sending phone numbers and telling them to call me no matter what time they got the message. With orphan foals, every hour counts. Finally, about an hour later, I received a phone call from a woman I had never met. There was an orphan, one of the Paiute Indian group that was recently rescued from slaughter.
So many folks breathe a huge sigh of relief when they hear that the horses have been "saved from slaughter". But the reality is that is just the beginning. One of the horses rescued was a pregnant mare that the vet deemed to be in her late 20's. Although pregnancy at this age is not an everyday event, it does happen but a lot of those mares that age do not carry the foal to term. However, this mare was determined to have her baby, and even though she carried him to term, she was in really bad shape and passed away when he was about 3 months old. So this baby already had a lot of strikes against him. The first is that his mom could not possibly have given him the proper nutrition when she was still pregnant. After she had him, in her condition there would be very little nutrition left in her milk because of the shape she was in, and who knows how much milk she even had. (The vet told the woman who rescued the mare that he didn't think she would live long enough to even give birth.) The woman who saved these horses from slaughter did her best to care for him, and then realizing she needed help she contacted us to take the baby. By the next day there was another foal in distress. This one was Mikey, the little tri-color, and the mare he had been paired up with after the auction did not seem to be his mother. When foals and mares are separated, they do not always match back up appropriately and in the chaos of the roundup and then the confusion of being pushed from pen to pen at auction yards, they very easily can get separated if care is not taken to make sure all are paired up properly. The mare had milk, but refused to let him drink and was being aggressive, resulting in a leg injury and him not being able to eat.
Not knowing where the babies were, but realizing time was of the essence, Soldier, (my service dog and our military war veteran), and I headed out the next day to Dayton, first stop on the way to get the babies. Matt was staying back to hold down the fort as this was an emergency situation. It was too late to do anything Tuesday night, and we also had to make sure the proper steps were followed. It is necessary to have the brand inspector legally change the title to the horses before you can take them, especially when you need to cross state lines. The foals would need to be checked by a vet and get a health certificate, as well as having their blood drawn for a Coggins test. It's never wise and no one wants to cause more problems and delay by not following the laws when crossing state lines without correct paperwork and it was a good thing to get them on their feet and have a little rest before they start their next journey to California. It was Thursday morning before we were able to pick up the babies so we have had a week to watch for problems and get them eating their supplements. It takes a little time for the older babies to learn about their munchies (supplements and vitamins) along with eating good hay. Electrolytes are so important to these babies and it's almost the first thing we do is to replace and keep them on water with electrolytes added. At 3 months they can free drink on their own and we watch their water intake to make sure they are drinking enough and not drinking too much.
Shirley and I headed out with the small two horse baby trailer that is totally enclosed, praying like crazy that the little guys would be okay. We arrived to find Mikey, the tri-colored little colt, lying on the ground. Ikey, the little buckskin, was actually standing on the edge of Mikey's neck, but Mikey was too weak to even care. We loaded them up in the trailer, knowing that they were extremely compromised as well as being dehydrated and seriously malnourished. We took them back to Shirley's and began checking them out. Their temperatures were in a safe range, although their little legs were quite cold. This can be a huge issue if they get too cold from lack of circulation, as the blood flow can decrease to the point of losing their hoofers, which of course means losing the baby. They both had good gum color, which is also extremely important, as it shows good oxygenation and abnormal gum color can show jaundice, and indicate other health issues. Low body temps (core temp) below about 85 degrees can cause internal organ damage and then the loss of the baby, one of the reasons it is so important to have compromised foals in an area where we are able to keep the temperatures stable and they are breathing air that is not to cold.
The next day Doc came and checked them out more thoroughly, and also drew the blood for the Coggins test needed to bring them back to California. He said both their lungs sounded good, and that hopefully with lots of love, attention, good groceries and supplements, their legs have a good chance of becoming more normal. Ikey also has a hernia which will most likely require surgery. We are hoping he will be well enough in a month or so for the surgery as Doc say it is better sooner than later as long as he is ready. We will need to raise funds for that operation before that time. We have to watch them closely as with foals that are this compromised they have absolutely zero reserves and also immune system that is also compromised, so it is imperative that we keep them as healthy as possible and in a temperature controlled environment.
Both Mikey and Ikey love to eat and drink, which is a great way to start getting better. They are definitely showing tiny signs of improvement every day, and if anyone would like to help with the special supplements, foal lac pellets, hay and feed that they need it would be much appreciated. You can donate at Palominodancer@paypal.com or go to our website www.chillypepper.weebly.com and donate there. Remember that all donations are tax deductible and so much appreciated, as they are what keep us going and make all this possible. We are hoping to head back to Shingletown on Thursday at the latest. I am anxious to get them safely (and ever so slowly) home and settled in. Thank you again to everyone who made sure that we have a safe and warm nursery. These two need it if we are going to have a chance to bring them back to a healthy state.
God bless you and thank you so much for making it possible to give these foals a chance. So many folks stepped up to make sure that they didn't end up at the slaughterhouse in the first place and we really want to make sure that they continue to beat the odds and are able to live a happy and peaceful life. Thank you so much for helping us help God's critters.
Ikey and Mikey say THANK YOU ALL, we're getting better.
Ikey day two, chowing down.
Mikey, day two, taking a little breather to say Love You and Thanks.