Monday, August 8, 2011

Challenge Painting #165 : Orphan Foals Part 2 Kiger-Riddle Mountain Round-ups 2011

Part 2 The Ups and Downs of Fostering Wild Orphan Foals
By Volunteer Andi Harmon
4 by 6 inch watercolor on embossed paper
by Linda L Martin

Losing a foal is hard. I’ve not lost a lot but I have lost some.

“Angel” was one of the first orphans to come here. She had pneumonia and we just couldn’t kick it; she was about 3 weeks old when she died. “Trixie” was found on the range, abandoned by her herd, and trampled over a bunch of rocks. She was here for a few days; her last moments were spent in the spare bedroom on horse blankets, with an IV hanging from a bookshelf. I laid with her to keep her from thrashing around and pulling out the IV. Sadly, she was too injured internally to survive; I held her while she took her last breath, tears streaming.

“Buck” was another orphan we had and lost. He was born at the corrals and it appears he rolled under the fence at birth. When he was found, still wet, and put back, his dam refused him. We suspect he didn’t get his colostrum, the necessary “first milk” needed to build his immunity and insure his survival.

“Jasper” was an orphan from the Stinkingwater HMA that we lost. It was discovered by a rancher that the horse were eating some poisonous hemlock up by the reservoir. The entire HMA was gathered and several horses were near death or died later on at the corrals. The area was fenced off and sprayed; horses were returned when it was deemed safe.
Jasper was born at the corrals but his mother died when he was just a couple days old from the poison hemlock. It’s suspected Jasper was poisoned in the womb; he was on IV’s for 9-10 days, drinking milk, nibbling on a little hay when his system shut down and he passed. I suspect since his dam’s system was compromised from the poison, she wasn’t able to pass on the necessary antibodies the little guy needed to survive.

Each time we lost a foal, we would always say, “No more! Can’t do this again!” and then the BLM calls. And, of course, I go clean out a pen and get it ready for the next one that needs someone. It really *is* a good feeling when they not only survive, but thrive and go on to be useful members of society, bringing much happiness to the lives they touch. It makes the job, and the hours without sleep, worth it!

Sasha will be ready to adopt at Kiger
Fest 2011 in October. Photo Reference
provided by Andi Harmon
Used by permission

Out of 32 orphans, I’ve lost 6 for things beyond my control. That leaves 26 babies that have gone on (or will) to be the joy of someone’s life!

One such filly is “Karma”, a chocolate, or bay silver dapple from the Cold Springs HMA. She was slated to be returned to the wild with her dam and 2 other mares and foals, after their booster shots. When being brought in for their boosters, One of the other mares knocked Karma’s dam into a corner post and broke her hip, so Karma came to live with me. I ended up adopting her and later sold her to a friend on the other side of the country in NC.

Jill came out in 2007 to meet Karma, and had Kitty Lauman, a trainer here in Oregon, start her under saddle, then ship her back to NC. As luck would have it, Jill was unable to keep up with Karma’s training but a good friend of hers, Mike Branch, took her in his program. Mike does a lot of work with the BLM and kids back east and Karma has become quite the ambassador for the wild horses on the east coast! She’s now 6 years old and assists Mike in his clinics gentling horses and giving demonstrations on what these horses are capable of doing!

Another orphan I had 3 years ago was named “Red”. He was only a couple days old when he came here off the Beaty’s Butte HMA. He was a bottle baby and very loving and affectionate. We wanted to keep him but we were overwhelmed with horses and attempts to find an adopter for a plain little bay colt was not going well. We were forced to send him back to the corrals, halter broke, foot broke, trailer broke and dog gentle. I hoped someone would see that in him and grab him up!

Over 2 years went by and I had not heard of anyone adopting Red. Then, of Facebook, I got a message from a friend in the mid-west. They wanted to know if I had an orphan 3 years ago from Beaty’s Butte. Why yes, I did! The BLM staff had written on Red’s paperwork “Andi’s colt” in one corner and “Red” in the other corner. Red was at an adoption and a nice woman adopted him because he was just so cute and so friendly. She showed my friend her paperwork, idly wondering what the notations meant. Angela had a suspicion what it meant and emailed me. And the rest, as they say, is history! Red is in a happy home in Indiana, his owner got to see old photos and videos of Red as a foal and I get updates!

When I have orphans, I often get a lot of people interested in adopting one. Some are a little disappointed when they can’t just come out and take the foal but I have the first choice of adopting, and I also screen potential adopters more heavily than the BLM does. I want to make sure one of my babies that I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into are getting the best possible home! It’s paid off and I can say there are many babies who are enjoying their life as a formerly wild horse!

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