This trip begins with Matt and I on our way to Santa Cruz. For a vacation you say? Ha, I wish. We were on our way to the Mustang Movie. We had the honor of sharing the evening with the Pregnant Mare Rescue and setting up a table. It would have been such an amazing opportunity to share what we do, help educate the public on the plight of our wild horses and make some great contacts and possibly meet some new supporters. We had a great silent auction set up with a donated picture from Anne Hall and some gorgeous earrings that were donated by ENJ, a wonderful jeweler and artist from Shingletown, named Erin Fabbri.
About half way there, we got the “baby call”. Of course that nixed the whole “Santa Cruz” thing and we immediately headed over to Dayton. Now this is not the opportune course of travel nor the quickest way to get there, but get there we did. And it was just in time. We rolled in at the exact moment the trailer was backing up to unload her.
Looking into the trailer I saw a tall foal that was literally skin and bones. Her coat was mangy looking with little flakes of white throughout. The indents in her hiney were deep, to say the least, due to her emaciated condition from lack of nutrition and the skin was in rolls without anything to fill it out. As she turned, I stared into the limpid pools of her beautiful dark eyes. There was no panic, but definitely worry. There was exhaustion without defeat, and there was enough light in those eyes to say “this ain’t over yet”. This little girl had been through it, yet she had survived and was obviously ready to keep fighting the fight.
Her shoulders jutted sharply against her skin, not a drop of fat to be found. On her neck, an old bite oozed green puss, and her back clearly told the story of angry teeth and hooves. Her top line showed an inch or two of bone sticking up and each and every bone in her body was clearly visible. He ribs stood out, and you could tell she was completely malnourished and exhausted. Her little tummy hung down low, with no muscles to keep it where it should be. Her back end was a mix of wrinkled skin where there was no muscle or fat to round it out, and she basically looked like a skeleton with skin stretched over it, with tufts of old and dry bits of her winter coat left clinging to her dry skin.
When she came out of the trailer, I was stunned by her beautiful head and the way she still held it up, as if to say, "I am not done yet".. You could see the worry in her eyes as I approached, and my heart broke when I saw her condition. But once again, I was looking at a "miracle mustang" who had survived alone in the wild with absolutely no protection. Standing before me was a young foal who had beaten all the odds, and was still ready to fight if she needed to, but who projected an innate grace and wisdom. Tawny, (named by Anne Hall, who is one of our favorite horsey angels and the reason that Tawny is alive today) had been alone in the wild, ignored by and chased away from the other bands, (as was evident by her wounds).
. Her chest bones were protruding, and her sides showed the story of angry teeth and hoofers. This little girl had been through it, yet she had survived and was obviously ready to keep fighting the fight. The fact that she is so young and was not getting her groceries yet still managed to survive by herself is amazing, especially with an infection streaming though her system.
Her story was clearly written on that body, the angry bites and kicks that would be no more. From now on, her life would be full of love and softness. She seemed to know this as she settled her tired little head into my arms. She stood with the tension flowing out of her, and while exhaustion settled in, she fell asleep in my arms.
Anne, who had been monitoring the situation, had spoken of an incident at the water hole when another youngster approached her, but was called back to the band. As they left, Anne said that it was so heartbreaking to hear Tawny calling out to the other horses, standing all alone. Time and time again the other horses would either ignore her or leave the area when she was at the water hole. For some unknown reason, Tawny had been completely rejected by all the other horses.
Normally, in the wild if a baby is "left behind, or beat up, sometimes even killed", it is because the mares and stallion instinctively know there is something wrong. When we get these babies, we never know why they were left behind. It could be something as simple as the mare had been killed, or the baby could have an unknown or invisible medical/health condition. So we give the best care we can and the rest of it is in God's hands. Most often, we never do know the real reason why these babies were left behind.
We spent some time checking out and assessing her injuries, and then settled her in her pen. She laid her head in my arms and literally just sank into them. After awhile, she actually went back to sleep, but my leg and back couldn't take it and I gently woke her up. She then walked over to her hay and began to munch.
The next time I went out to see her, the worry was back in her eyes, so I used my whip to extend my arm and gently started rubbing it on her. Within minutes, her head was back in my arms and she was getting her loves. It is amazing to be the first one to show her how good "touch" can actually feel. She was starved for the nuzzling and love that the horses routinely share each and every day with each other. Shirley came out with the meds that we needed to start her on and we gave her the shots that she needed. She barely even flinched, thanks in part to Bruce and Matt and the newly found security she was feeling.
However, the next day when I went out, the uncertainty was once again there. I again took my little whip to extend my arm and gently touched her back and started scratching. Within minutes, her little head was once again resting in my arms. Our beloved Anne Hall – horsey angel extraordinaire, came over; (she is the person responsible for her being alive and who worked with our wonderful brand inspector Chris to bring her in) and was able to put her hands on her for the first time. When Tawny saw Anne, she whinnied at her and it was a beautiful, touching reunion. She knew Anne from out on the range.
Friday, I left and headed back to California to pick up our trailer. (Matt and I had both had that feeling that we needed to bring our trailer with us when we went to Santa Cruz, but of course we hadn’t.) I drove the 400+ miles round trip and picked up the trailer so it is now here in Dayton, NV, where we need it to be able to bring her home.
The first couple days when I went in to her pen, I still needed my whip for an extension of my arm. She would melt in your arms once you had contact with her, but that first touch continued to cause her a bit of worry. Yesterday she was down resting, and I walked slowly towards her with the camera. Much to my dismay she jumped up, but later that same afternoon I walked in and was able to get up close and brush her while she stayed down. This showed a huge increase in her comfort and trust level.
Today, we had several visitors. Tawny was pretty reactive and unsure, but continues to grow more and more comfortable over all. We moved the beautiful little foal Mika, (who is also coming to California with us for training so she can be adopted) into the pen next to her. Tawny desperately wants a “horsey friend”, but is very shy and hesitant at the same time. With time however, she and Mika will no doubt bond up and be very good friends. For now though, Mika will be hanging out with our mini DaBubbles, who loves to teach babies their manners.
So once again our nursery has young life in it. Tawny needs lots and lots of love, prayers and support as always. She loves her munchies and is chowing down and on her way to gaining weight. She is simply gorgeous and is going to be an amazing and loyal friend for the lucky folks who end up adopting her. So that is the news from Chilly Pepper - Miracle Mustang. One more "miracle mustang" in residence.
God bless y'all and thank you for being part of our rescue and for jumping on "Team Tawny".