Softly, almost shyly, Honey Bandit walks up and lays his head against my chest. He is such a love bug. All he knows right now (once I stopped poking him all the time and sticking things into him, is that I love him and I am his "safe" place. He is slowly learning that he can no longer lean on me, and that he cannot play "rough horse play" with his human family. It can be a very hard lesson for them.
One of the hard or dangerous things about raising a baby that starts out so critically ill or traumatized, is that although staying close, loving on them, cuddling them, being "one" with them is necessary to help them survive, it can cause nightmares later. When your two day old, (or in Honey Bandit's case I think he was 3 months old before he could voluntarily "come to me") comes running up to see you and crashes into you it is just "way cute". But picture 1000 or more pounds of that same loving little horse flying up to see you and bumping into you. That can be deadly. But in critical cases, it is not an option whether you share your space with them. It can be the difference be tween losing your baby or "pulling them back to life". You also need to monitor the temperature for them as they are extremely susceptible to temperature changes and cannot regulate their body heat for several weeks or longer.
I know there are people who don't think you need to be so physically close to, and keep such a vigilant eye on these babies. However, I have seen a day old, exquisitely beautiful, perfectly healthy, little filly die, simply because she was left alone. Although there were people "trying to feed her round the clock" she was left alone, outside in the hot sun. The sad part is that the ones who were actually feeding her didn't understand that you cannot use a calf nipple to feed a foal. They called and told me she wasn't getting enough to eat, but by that time it was too late. So she ended up dying from lack of food and dehydration. Also, she was alone, hungry and frightened with no one to turn to. When you watch the wild horses, the babies may bounce around and run and play, but they sure check in often with their mamas. Depending on the age of the foal you are trying to save, they may not all need "babying"; but newborns and/or critically ill foals need that closeness. They are herd animals and it is completely unnatural for them to be alone. Imagine how frightening and sad you would be if you were all alone, hungry, hot and didn't have anyone to love you. This little filly died after 3 days lying in the hot sun. It was a horrible death for her and totally unnecessary. Unfortunately my hands were tied and I didn't find out about her in time to help save her. Instead I got a phone call from a young girl who held the convulsing filly in her arms while she died.
When Honey Bandit was lying on the blue mat at the veterinary hospital, he was in a deep, deep coma. So deep that the Dr. Indicated she thought we would lose him before she could get the iv in. I kept reaching in his mouth and messing with his tongue. I simply wanted to reach through that fog and let him know someone was there and reaching out to him. My dearly loved friend Shirley, who is the "horse angel of Nevada", has a foal room in her house. Her babies wear "pullups" when they are inside, and they go outside to play when the weather is safe for them. She is one of my dearest mentors and a lady whom I love and respect probably far more than she knows. She and Susan, another of my beloved mentors, are always there for me if I have questions or need anything. I know that when "success ratios" were being discussed, they both have some of the highest success rates when it comes to saving the critical, injured or newborns. They also realize and will explain how much these babies need that extra love. (I know there also scores of others who are very successful in this field PTL). But I have the pleasure of being part of Susan and Shirley's world.
Back to the hard part, it is time to teach Honey Bandit about the "space" issue. He doesn't get to come into my space unless he is invited. Chilly Pepper also did not like her "Lessons in appropriate behavior in regards to space etiquette 101". But she did survive. You will probably see what I am talking about when Jennifer puts up some of the recent videos of Honey Bandit in the front yard. He is simply "growing up" and needs to become a well behaved "toddler". He actually does very well, but he has a tendency to forget that I am not Patches or DaBubbles and that he has to "play" with mommy in a more respectable manner. I have a feeling he is going to be huge someday and I need him to have exemplary manners. With my leg it doesn't take much to knock me down, and America's Poster Boy to Stop the Round Ups need to represent our beloved mustangs in a manner befitting of their level of intelligence.
Hopefully we will be attending CAL EXPO in Sacramento in June, and he will also need his manners there. BLM has a booth there and will be answering questions for about 70,000 + people. I would also like to be there with Honey Bandit to answer questions as well. I believe that Honey Bandit is the perfect example of why things need to be changed in the way our beloved wild horses are handled. We need to work together and make sure no more foals end up the way Honey Bandit did. We can change this, and with so many wonderful people working together our horses will have a chance.
Honey Bandit sends his love to all. X o
Chilly Pepper - Miracle Mustang
30027 State Hwy 44 East
Shingletown, CA 96088
530 474 5197
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PO BOX 233
GOLCONDA, NV 89414