Yesterday afternoon, my friend, Glenys, and I set out to test my new lens,
We were going to go south, to a certain place where we thought there might be deer or elk grazing. As we came up to the turn-off, I said, “What about going to the spring below Becky Peak, instead?” (There are usually some wild horses around there.) She was all for it, so instead of turning right, we went straight, then cut across the main highway and drove north along the parallel seldom-traveled old highway.
At the spring, we were disappointed to see no recent sign of horses, so we amused ourselves with wildflower macro, instead. I walked up around the oasis to try for afternoon backlight. My friend went the other direction, so the spring and all its vegetation was now between us.
Suddenly, I heard a horse nicker and snort. Then, I heard Glenys exclaiming and urging me to come quickly. I feared she was face-to-face with a mad stallion. As I made my way around the waterhole and through some high brush, I stepped out in the clearing to see her standing about 50 feet from a mustang foal. They were having a conversation, but the baby was not letting her get close to it ……
Spring: Day One (2009.JUN.18)
We soon realized that the foal was abandoned and starving. It had multiple injuries, apparently the results of a cougar attack. Miracle of marvels: The tiny foal – just a few days old – had somehow survived … but she was so severely injured, the herd had left her for Nature to finish the job. Such is the way of the wilderness.
There was little discussion on the matter; as the little one went off down the hillside, we got back into my pickup and headed straight for home, and to the one person we knew would do something to help this poor baby: our neighbor, Ray. A horse whisperer, of sorts, Ray already has one mustang orphan, and his success with her has been phenomenal. When I told him about the orphan, he replied without hesitation, “Let’s go get it!”
It took us a couple of hours to make all the preparations
- hitching up a horse trailer, finding some tack, then getting all the way back over to the spring. I was afraid we would be too late. The sun was sinking. My shooting buddy, who is still recovering from recent surgery, had become exhausted by the day’s events, and reluctantly decided not to go back with us, so it would just be Ray and me, on this mission of mercy. She said to me quietly, “Tell Ray it’s name is Spring.”
Before we got to the location, he spotted the colt above us on the hillside. A herd of wild horses was approaching, but quickly did an about-face when they saw us. Little Bit continued munching on grass, not really paying much heed to the two of us, as we slowly approached her.
She didn’t run, but bolted and trotted a short distance, each time we got too close. Ray started trying to lasso her, cowboy style – but the rope was too soft, and would not make a loop wide enough to encircle the horse’s head.
Success finally came when I caught the colt’s attention by talking to it, while Ray reached out and grabbed her by her fuzzy little tail. He held her from behind, while I slipped the rope around her neck.
She didn’t like being restrained, but Ray is very wise in the ways of horses, and he allowed her to “lead us” – him on one side, I on the other, just behind her withers.
Soon, we were back to the truck, and ready to try and load her into the trailer. He had tossed in a flake of hay, and she was so hungry, she went most of the way in, then balked. He got her front half tethered inside, while I pushed from behind. Success!
Little girl was so hungry, she went for the hay, and drank a bit of water that I brought over from the spring. When she was calm, we drove back to Cherry Creek. I’m sure it was a frightening experience for the horse, but there was no other way.
The sun had set, and as we drove away from the watering hole, I heard the howling of many coyotes nearby. I know that had we not done what we did, when we did it, the little one would not have lived to see the sunrise. Those predators would have taken her down.
Ray dressed her wounds, and we put a couple of horse blankets on the floor of the trailer for Spring to lie on. That was all we could do for the day. She would spend the night there, safe and snug. In the morning, he would go to town for milk supplements and pennicilin, and then make a stop at the local BLM office to start the paperwork on Spring’s adoption. There will be no complications with the bureaucracy; he is already on their list for mustang orphan adoption ……
I don’t believe in “random luck”. I find nothing “accidental” in the impulsive decision that lead my friend and me to turn north, instead of south, at the precise time that we did.
Spring had survived a vicious mountain lion attack, and would undoubtedly have perished by the violence of coyotes, or starvation, had we not come to the place we did, at exactly the time that we did.
Somebody has big plans for little Spring. I am blessed to have had a part in her rescue!
I regret there are no photographs of the rescue process. I kind of had my hands full with horse-wrangling. ;D
Spring: Day Twenty (2009.JUL.08)
Spring’s RedBubble Album: The Miracle Of Spring
Mustang Milestone: The Freeze Brand
UPDATE: Spring’s First Taste Of Winter
(2009.DEC.13 – Six Months)
2010.MAR.22 – Nine Months)
UPDATE: Happy Birthday, Spring!
Mauled by a mountain lion, left to die alone on the range, Spring’s amazing story of survival is just beginning.