As I lay in bed, listening to the sounds of the babies moving about, I could not stop the tears from falling. In the morning, for the very last time, we would be loading Annie & Lil Bit into the trailer to start their journey to their new home in Lompoc, at Return to Freedom. Slowly, I drifted into an uneasy sleep.
At about 2:00 a.m. I awoke with a vengeance. The sound of thundering hooves radiated all around us. In the front, where the babies were, and in the other two areas where the big guys were, you could hear them flying around. Every once in awhile you would hear them blowing and snorting. "Matt, something is out there". All of a sudden I heard a blood curdling scream. It was clearly an animal in the horrible throes of death. It was out on the highway side of the road and I raced out as fast as my knee would allow (which is not very fast at all). I had grabbed the huge spotlight and I was calling desperately for DaBubbles. I couldn't find him anywhere. All of a sudden the light went out, (of course - lol) and I could hear Matt calling me telling me not to be out there without a weapon. But I couldn't go back, I had to know he was ok. I finally heard him running around, and breathing a big sigh of relief, realized that the kill had been outside of our gate. Most likely the cat had taken down one of the deer that used to hang around. My adrenalin was up and my heart was racing. By then, realizing the danger was no longer, the horses and dogs had all settled down and were quiet, and we knew the danger was over. I kept hearing that scream over and over in my head, and my heart was aching for the little deer that was now dinner.
Matt and I went back to bed for a few minutes and then we decided, let's just load 'em up and head out. We had brought the babies into the inside nursery and they were all over the place. There was no way we would get any sleep, So for the last time ever, I walked Lil Bit and Lil Orphan Annie into the trailer that they had come to know so well. They just hopped in as if to say, where we goin' this time? We got them settled, rechecked everything on the trailer and off we went.
The drive down was uneventful for the most part. The babies traveled beautifully, and thoroughly enjoyed their little breaks and "milk stops". They ride standing up part of the time but like to just lay down and chill much of the time when we travel. We were about an hour from Return to Freedom when we noticed a large semi with a flatbed trailer who was all over the place. He would go from 35 - 65, and would often be completely on the side of the road and other times be about 3 feet into the oncoming traffic lane. Now I am pretty protective when we are pulling our little ones, and I sure didn't want to be in front of him. After 3 separate calls and a great deal of time, most of which we were having mini heart attacks as he came within inches of wiping folks out, including a large fuel tanker, the CHP finally showed up. He flashed on his lights and began to follow the truck. Seems like it took 10 - 15 minutes literally for the guy to finally pull over. We stopped in case they needed a statement, but the officer told us that they had seen enough. Once again, the angels were with all of us on that highway.
We pulled in to Neda's place, and were met by a bunch of beautiful women. However, when we opened the trailer door, the babies who could definitely tell that momma was being weird, decided that they would rather stay in the trailer. So we took a bit of time to let them figure it out. We had added a piece of wood just inside the back door so no little hoofers could get caught, and this was only the 2nd time they had seen it. I think that with that piece of wood, coupled with so many folks waiting to meet them and them knowing that "mommy was different", they had decided why not stay in our cozy little trailer that is like our second home. So we gave them a few minutes to settle in.
After they were unloaded, they went into a beautiful arena. Both of these babies are secure, confident and ready to take on life. They pranced around, showed off a bit and literally just soaked up the love. That night when we came back from dinner, both of them ran up whinnying when they heard "their" truck. It was really nice to be invited to stay there overnight. We got to wake up to some of the most beautiful scenery there is, and I think it was easier for the babies to settle in when we were there for breakfast like normal. I do have to say though, dropping off two babies that have bonded so well is so much less dramatic than dropping off one. These guys have each other and are so secure that this will be an easy transition for them, although not so much for mom.
We spent a good part of the day with Neda as she showed us around and explained what they do. Return to Freedom is an amazing place and a great one to support if y'all need a good tax write-off. Their operating costs are about $6,000 a day, and they have done studies with the PZP that prove you can manage the wild ones with it. As is the case with humans, not all mares respond to the PZP, so that core group of mares is with a stallion that has had a vasectomy. The other mares who respond positively to the treatment are banded up with the stallions. Life at Return to Freedom is very close to "nature" and the horses are living in their family bands. I cannot begin to imagine the kind of responsibility and stress that could come with taking such excellent care of so many horses. As she says, "these horses are yesterday's emergencies". We were talking about how everyone wants to "save" the horses during the emergency, but as soon as it is over, the day to day costs of feeding, veterinary care, hoof care and all the other expenses seem to fall on the rescues. We need folks to support these horses the rest of their lives.
You can sponsor one of their beautiful mustangs, and even if you cannot do a full sponsorship, anything helps. Shirley Allen at Lucky Horse Rescue & Rehab in Dayton, NV also has some babies and big horses that could use a sponsor. Honey Bandit & Donkey are also available for sponsorship at our place. There is no end to the amazing places that need sponsors for the "saved horses". Even $5 to any organization out there can make a huge difference for these animals and allow folks to provide the awesome care they deserve.
So Annie and Lil Bit are happily munching away at their new home. They are surrounded by awesome folks and I heard a little secret that the staff run out on their breaks and visit with them, so we know they are still getting that special treatment they love.
Remember, please visit the websites and help if you can. http://www.whmentors.org/lhp/orphan01.html (Shirley's foal rescue) & Return to Freedom, where Lil Bit & Annie live http://www.returntofreedom.org/about-us/ and of course www.chillypepper.weebly.com to see our latest.
During the year 2014, we had 10 babies here, Precious, Mikey & Ikey, Texas, Janie, Baby Boo McClellan & Luna, Lil Bit & Annie and Running Bucket. Running Bucket is still on a nurse mare, (whom has done pretty much all the work) and has a potential, but not for sure adopter. All of the others have found wonderful homes, with the exception of our beloved Janie, who is now in the arms of the angels. THANK YOU EVERYONE who made these babies' lives possible. Y'all are amazing and so very much appreciated.
This is the answer to our prayers. (About 4 or 5 years worth)
We got her home - THANK YOU SO MUCH STEPHEN N SAVANNAH. We will always remember the gift in honor of your beautiful angel Sondra. PTL for once again blessing us with such amazing people in our lives.
We need to do a lil bit of work, but she came home like a champ and is going to be so very perfect for the babies. The folks that donated her are beyond amazing and I cannot believe how lucky we are that God puts such amazing people in our lives. They are Sweet Pea (aka Luna) and Bay Baby (aka Baby Boo McClellan)'s new mom and dad, and are taking amazing care of those little girls. Was so awesome to get to see them. They are growing and very happy, and couldn't really care less about their old mom and dad. They said hi, but are extremely happy in their new homes, as it should be
Getting it was the easy part LOL Now we have to "git 'er done" as far as getting her ready and road worthy. Our first stop will definitely be tires. Matt wouldn't let me drive it home cuz he was worried cuz the tires are so crackly on the side. It will be a lot of work but absolutely priceless when it is ready to go. She has about 268000 + / - miles, so we will be testing her out a bit before we go on too many rescues. But I have great roadside service - haha. Am just so very grateful
Babies at Chilly Pepper - Miracle Mustang. They are growing up fast Having some camera (or rather camera operator issues lol), but they still show how cute the little ones are...... Lil Bit looks soooooo different and is doing so well and also trying to go grey......
It has been a crazy spring this year. Not including the three that we placed the beginning of this year, we have had 7 critical orphans so far, and also have had great success in helping place some older horses. Texas is doing well and thriving in his new home back in NV. Running Bucket is thriving with her adopted nurse mama and growing fast and more beautiful than ever. As most of you know, God gave us a very short, but beautiful time with Janie, whom we had to let go due to the severity of her injuries and health issues. My heart still aches for her, and I treasure every beautiful moment we had together. She was one of those beautiful creatures that emulate love and trust and all that is good. While my heart was still in a million pieces, God sent the most amazing angel to help ease the pain.
God sent us a beautiful little foal named Baby Boo McClellan. She is almost identical in appearance to Janie, although her face is a little bit longer and her eyes not quite so large. However, the expression in those doe eyes was the same. After spending most of the day in the blazing sun, frustrated beyond belief while watching the rest of the gang forge ahead, I had a moment of self pity, wondering why my leg is so painful and of such limited use. While everyone else climbed from the bottom to the top and back to the bottom of these amazing mountains, I limped along as best I could, watching the action from a distance. Hmmmmmm, so much for being able to drive right to them. I am so never believing that line again. :) Matt was amazing and did his best to hang back with me and not make me feel quite so useless.
Matt and I then took the shortcut and were picked up by Mikel Ann Hetrick, the lady who is responsible for Baby Boo actually being alive to be saved. She had been following the bands and watching over this beautiful, severely beaten up foal, making sure that we could find her. Baby Boo had been with 3 different bands, desperately trying to find solace and food within. The mares continued to use her for a punching bag until finally, she would move on to a different band. She was using every bit of adrenalin left in that tiny little body to stay alive, and she barely made it back with us. She is now doing very well, although she is still stiff and just beginning to play a bit more every day. Sweet Pea, who was named Luna, is Baby Boo's best friend and they will be going to their new home together. Yes, I am already crying......
Annie and Lil Bit have been hanging out and they are the best of friends. So far, the plan is for both of them to be adopted together and they will be moving to Southern California as far as we know.... Again, crying........
Honey Bandit continues to amaze. He is absolutely gorgeous, the oh so bossy leader of the band, and just a pleasure for all the folks that come to visit to see. He is sleek and one of the happiest horses around. He loves "watching over" all the rest of the crew and seems to really enjoy the "manners" that he feels he must remind everyone they need.
We are excited to share the date of Saturday, August 16, 2014 from 11:30 a.m. to ?????? with anyone who wants to come and help celebrate not only the miracle of Honey Bandit, but of the wonderful folks who are part of this family rescue, and the lives of all the babies you have helped us save, equine as well as others. As usual, we will have good eats and drinks and y'all can bring your families to the cool mountain air and enjoy a day of celebrating. We talked to Honey Bandit and he didn't mind waiting for his birthday party, so we will also be celebrating one tough little mustang growing up.
We are 7 miles past Shingletown on Hwy 44 East. There is a big white sign on the right side of the road in a tree that says "SIDEBOTTOM". Turn right and we will be the 2nd house on the left. You can't miss us and we really hope that y'all come in and say hi and see the improvements we have been making. Brings the kids, grand kids, parents and friends to enjoy the beautiful mountain air and enjoy DaBubbles (our miniature) and Belafonte our (miniature goat). Come see what YOU have helped to make happen. Oh, and by the way, Donkey thinks y'all should bring him some carrots as he is doing so well protecting all the critters. Although the mountain lion has been seen hanging out for a bit out back on the cameras, there has been no hanky panky, so we are loving Donkey. Anyone with any questions can reach us at 530 474 5197. If y'all want to help with these babies and their munchies, hay etc, you can go to Palominodancer@yahoo.com to Paypal or you can go to our website at www.chillypepper.weebly.com or come and visit us here at 34694 Sidebottom Rd, Shingletown, CA 96088
We are looking forward to another fun and fabulous Open House!
Emily the web admin here, I'm just back from a couple of days at the beach and playing a little catch up here while doctoring one of my critter's boo boos... Here's the latest from Palomino, Matt & the Critter Gang!
Critter Kids at Chilly Pepper - Miracle Mustang. Annie and Lil Bit have their first round pen lesson in tandem. (Click the pics enlarge)
All my critter kids are acting like they are on speed. The little one was wound so tight this morning I thought she was gonna flip over. Dogs were going nuts all night so who knows who was visiting the edge of the property. Matt saw a huge elk (butt - lol) leaving the highway. He is about 6'2" and he said her butt came up about to his shoulders. Apparently another one was hanging out by our driveway on Hwy 44. Hmmm wouldn't want to meet that with any vehicle. Hoping it was one of those and not one of our clawed friends though..... Much more comfy to think of "big deer" as opposed to "big kitties"
Hmmmm - Today is the day for "milk face" I guess You can see how much fun Lil Bit and Lil Orphan Annie have when sharing the milk bucket
Matt will be transporting one, (and hopefully 2) horses that were saved from ending up at slaughter. He needs to get them up to their forever home in Oregon. We are guessing it will be about $ 200 - $ 300 to get them there, and the folks have wonderful acreage and will provide a forever home for the mustang and the other paint that we were trying to save. Anyone want to be part of this awesome success and chip in some pennies for fuel? Our truck and trailer tires are wearing fast, but as long as we can get them there and keep them from slaughter it is worth it. Anyone who wants to help can go to our website at www.chillypepper.weebly.com or go to Paypal Palominodancer@yahoo.com or use snail mail Chilly Pepper - Miracle Mustang, 34694 Sidebottom Rd., Shingletown, CA 96088 Thank you and God bless y'all for all you do!
Texas coming home and Texas going home Miss that little monkey. He is such an amazing horse and has such great personality and the cutest little bootie. His band is in captivity. He could not go back to the wild. He slept in our house for about 6 weeks (haha) In the nursery but we slept with him. He is definitely not wild anymore. Folks want to see the family unit reunited. Not sure how it will go, just saying prayers whatever happens it goes smoothly. But they will make sure he is safe....
Do you ever get that anxious feeling like something is going to happen? Well, I had it on Saturday, and sure enough, I spotted a notice for another orphaned foal. After several phone calls to NV and to our awesome "crew" who is taking care of the home front, along with lots of scrambling, we loaded up Lil Bit and Lil Orphan Annie and headed out into the night. We arrived at Shirley's in Dayton around 1 a .m. and the next morning headed out to pick up a foal. Now first and foremost, you simply cannot go out and pick up a foal without the proper authorization and steps being followed. However, since all that was in place, we went out to pick up the motherless orphan. After about 4 hours in some rough terrain and pretty warm weather, we were able to approach the little one and bring her to safety. We had an amazing crew, and Willis was astride his awesome mustang Corazon. What an amazing horse. The final blessing was a local photographer, who was in exactly the right place at the right time. Together, working quietly as a team, we were able to approach and rescue the failing foal.
Mikel Hettrick, who was responsible for her having a chance to survive in this often times cruel world, (PTL!!) gently held the baby while I put on her very first halter. She was scared, exhausted and was clearly not going to survive in the wild. As I led her gently down the hill, we had almost made it to the vehicles when I had to stop and give her some electrolytes. She was in rough shape and could barely stand in the back of the jeep on the way to the trailer.
While we were out picking up "Baby Boo McClellan", Shirley was trying desperately to rehydrate and pull back another little foal from the brink of death. Luna, who was picked up and brought in by Thomas & Dianne. We always want to send out our most heartfelt thanks to the folks that begin these journeys by saving the babies in the first place. Without these folks taking the time and effort to watch over and help these little ones, there would be no story.
For now, we are waiting in NV for the appropriate paperwork and getting the critter kids feeling a bit more ready to travel and we will head back home. Doc was here today to do the blood work. We will once again have the "Fabulous Four", only with a couple of different foals. :) :(
This foal season has been a bit insane, and it is not over yet. Once again we are asking for everyone's love, prayers and support for these tiny little babies. Rehabbing orphans like this is not an easy or inexpensive process, yet it brings so much love an joy to everyone involved. We need funds for fuel, milk money, meds and all the other things we use to help these little ones fight the good fight.
For folks who want to help a baby, but are unable to do the hands on, which unless you can devote 24 hours a day every single day for months at a time, there are other options. We understand that so many folks would love to to it, but don't have the time t commit or the ability to stay up for days on end or cannot devote months out of their life strictly to the critical foals. However, there is another fun and exciting way. Another way that you can help is to consider fostering a grown horse. There are many mustangs that are in need of fostering. While Shirley & Bruce's "Lucky Horse Rehab" is for orphan, critical and neo-natal foal care, along with the subsequent training these bottle babies need to be adoptable, they are also caring for horses that could be in foster homes.
Believe me, I speak from experience when I say that doing critical orphan foal care is literally 24/7 full time work. When other horses also have to be cared for, it takes away time that in a perfect world, (or even a sane world) should be for either a few minute nap or more baby time. So by fostering a mustang, you could also be helping the babies get the best care possible, and for all of us who do this to hopefully be able to stay healthy so we can continue to provide this type of care for years to come. If we get sick, we can't take care of the babies.
I think that unless you do the hands on care, it would be impossible to understand how much work goes into this. Often times when you get a baby you don't even climb into bed for the first 3-7 days or nights. Even after you spend the first week or two up literally 24 hours a day to make sure you do everything to help pull these little ones back to life, the work is still there. (Most of our babies are in very poor condition when we get them. We are not talking about raising a healthy baby, - that is a whole different and much easier situation :) .) When you finally reach the point that you don't have to jump up and check them every time they breathe or cough or move, maybe at that point - maybe 4 or 5 weeks after you get them, and with some babies not until months later - or like with Honey Bandit, about a year later, then maybe then you can rest for a couple of hours at a time.
Then the "real" (haha) work begins; to train this little one to not only be safe for folks to handle, but to be the best that they can be so their future will be the best it can be.
Many vets say the same thing about what they have experienced. Bottle babies are ONE of TWO THINGS - either the worst and most dangerous horses, or the very best, most calm and safe horses ever. There are two choices - spend the time with them and teach them respect and manners, or don't, and create a monster. Because with out proper TIME SPENT TRAINING THEM EVERY SINGLE DAY, they can grow up to be disrespectful and dangerous, even accidentally causing deadly injuries. What is cute when they are 100 lbs turns out to be not so cute when they are 1000 pounds. As the babies grow, they continue to test all the time. In the wild, their mamas or the stallions or their aunties will set them straight. They know their boundaries. (We have often heard folks say they would take a wild 2 year old over a baby anytime and that is because it is much easier to deal with a horse that knows its boundaries and has respect).
So think about helping the babies by helping foster a mustang. Arrangements can be made for an account at the feed store and you simply pick up the hay. You have the joy of knowing that you are helping to save part of our Nation's Heritage - the Wild Mustangs. You can help a critically ill, orphaned and/or injured baby by giving the folks that specialize in that work the time to do what they do best, and to not spend their time feeding and cleaning up after the horses who need "babysitting" when they really need that time for the babies.
It's funny how even though not one of us can do everything, together, all of us can "git 'er done", each one of us doing our own little part for America's Wild Horses, (and the domestics also). God bless and thank you for all you do, no matter what part of the process it is. You need the world to save a foal, and you guys Rock at it! Thank you for helping us with these babies and to find some much needed foster homes.
THANK YOU FROM ALL OF US!
Matt, Palomino & The Gang
Chilly Pepper - Miracle Mustang
Equine Rescue & More -
Rescue/Rehab Project LRTC