Wow, sometimes it seems like there is not even time to breathe at our tiny little rescue. I arrived home from Nevada with Tawny and Mika with one day to spare before the Shingletown Summer Faire. I then spent the one day making cheesecakes so we could do our donation to the medical center. On Saturday, we headed over to Camp McCumber for a day of fun with the kids during the fundraiser.
I was considering taking Mika and Tawny, but it seemed like that would have been pushing it. Tawny had barely had "hands on" for a bit over a week, and was still very reactive and trying to settle in. We knew that DaBubbles was always a hit with the kids, so we decided I should take him. There were probably 40+ kids that stopped by and got to feed DaBubbles a bit of hay and hang out with him. The smiles on their faces always make the effort worthwhile, although I was reeling a bit from the last week. However, it was a great day and I found out that I had definitely made the correct decision when they landed the medical helicopter on the grass next to us. Dabubbles could have cared less. He was all about the kids and that noisy, windy contraption didn't bother him in the least. (You have to remember, he survived a mountain lion attack and he is a tough little guy, so it was just another day in the park to him. He is just too cool for school unless you leave him alone. Ever since the attack a few years ago, he does not ever want to be by himself.)
I got home and gave Matt a big hug. I was so relieved that all of our "obligations and schedules" had been met, (with the exception of the Santa Cruz event - due to the baby call - and when we get those, the rest of the world stops as we all know). "Finally", I told him, "we can stay home". About an hour later the next call came, and it was for a "Different Kind of Rescue".
For close to a year, we have been trying to get a horse out of a pretty horrible situation. The horse had been completely alone for about two years, and had been living in a stall for about 6 years. Little did we know what we were really going to find. After all the time that had passed, we had the option to pull him but we would have to leave the next day and head out to Covina. So much for my plans. Guess God was having a good giggle again. I feel like I am riding on a train, and God has planned out the direction we are going and life goes best when I just sit back and enjoy the ride and He will put in front of us what He wants us to do. However, sometimes I make Him giggle when I start trying to make my own plans. This was one of those cases. No staying home for us. :)
We quickly lined up our "crew" to take care of the place and the babies while we were gone. Our son Travis and his girlfriend Marion stepped up once again to make sure everyone was taken care of. Normally we would not leave the babies behind, but Tawny was doing well enough after a week of good food, meds and munchies, and Mika is very healthy, just in need of some training. So we decided not to put them through the approximately 1200 mile trip. We do like to take them on shorter trips as we end up with babies who travel easily and with no stress. They will lay down if they are tired and hop in and out much better than horses who have not ridden in a trailer very often.
We headed down Sunday afternoon and picked up "Sarjah" the next day. "Sarjah" ended up being a "personal rescue" as opposed to being part of the Chilly Pepper - Miracle Mustang rescue. What this means is his care, like Magic's, is personally funded as opposed to being funded by donations. This was necessary as the only way I was allowed to pick up this horse was to promise to keep him as my personal horse. Just the fact that we were able to get him out of his situation, which actually was even more horrific than we were apprised of, made it all worthwhile. Normally we focus, and that is always our priority, on the neonatal, critically ill or injured orphans, and that will always be our priority. However, we do have the "Equine Rescue & More" for a reason. We have rescued ducks, squirrels, chipmunks, not to mention cats and dogs.
We have to turn so many calls down that is is a continuous heartbreak, but it seems that God guides us in the direction that we are supposed to go if we just listen. Out of all the horses that we have rescued, with the exception of Dakota, a string horse, I never knew what they looked like or saw photos of them a head of time. This was also the case with Sarjah. We knew he was an Arabian, but agreed to take him on long before we ever saw him. When we picked him up I was pleasantly surprised as he is quite a pretty boy. However, we had no idea who we were bringing home at the time. This horse has been horrifically abused and has obviously been hit. The lady we got him from apparently had a neighbor kid who was terrorizing folks, using BB guns, breaking stuff, stealing stuff and genuinely was out of control. As far as anyone knows, he was most likely the cause of the trauma; that and being alone for two years and stuck in a stall with little to no contact and sometimes irregular feeding. On the way home, we pulled in to a rest area and spend the night in the trailer. In his condition, constant bracing in the trailer while traveling would be so much work and cause him quite a bit of stress as he was forced to use muscles that had atrophied a great deal.
He is extremely food aggressive, is great at letting fly with both hind feet and is a very angry and unsure animal. I found out the hard way about the food aggression when he let fly with those hoofers towards my head. He is not a mean horse, but there is oh so much anger and he is actually dangerous right now as he has no boundaries and apparently did whatever he wanted when he was mishandled during the last six years. You can tell that he was deliberately tormented and he cannot trust anyone right now. He is almost more frightened if you are loving on him and being nice. You can tell by his body language and his eyes that he is just waiting for that punch, slap or whatever they got him with. So now our latest rescue has turned into an emotionally devastated mind and spirit, as opposed to a starving or physically ill one. We were completely shocked as the folks that were involved in the rescue kept telling us how amazing he had been and how he loved "loves" and kids etc. They were actually horrified when they saw the physical condition he was in and learned that he had turned from a well trained, healthy and happy horse to the emotional mess that he now is.
So we are taking it one day at a time, giving him a routine and he is starting to bond with all the other critters. For the first couple of days he did not even acknowledge any of the other animals, but at "the zoo", there is so much going on that he could hardly help himself and started paying attention to all the interaction going on around him. We are looking for so many prayers for him as he is just so emotionally devastated. When he gets a trigger, it is like hitting a light switch. He goes from being nervous to very angry and those ears go back and his eyes go hard. He is actually quite frightening in those moments, so we have to make sure that he knows who is in charge and that he is not the alpha. But this has to be done every so carefully and with great thought to personal safety. Hopefully in time these incidents will subside and he will once again learn that there are people he can trust and who will protect him and make sure he gets food everyday. He is not starving, but has no muscle tone from standing still so long. So begins the journey of Sarjah into his new life. I have to say that his favorite horses here are the baby girls, whom he calls for when they are out of his sight, and Magic, our other rescued Arabian. The two of them are pretty evenly matched temperament wise and are bonding up quickly.
The week ended with an emergency call about 3 orphan kittens. Of course we picked them up, so they are settling in nicely and of course need to be fed every few hours. So far their health seems to be pretty good, but we are always in need of prayers for these critters.
As always, we are so grateful to God for allowing this to be our life's mission. Even more so, we are always thankful for all you wonderful folks who make this all possible and who send your prayers and love. We are looking forward to more visits from folks who want to see the latest babies, (and maybe want to adopt a halter trained little one) and come visit. Thank you and God bless
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".