JULY BUCKET FUND BABY COLT: Meet Little Ari… wild foal stuck in a mud marsh!

Ari, a tiny wild foal was stuck in a boggy marsh.  Rescuers in kayaks watched from afar as the band stallion pawed at the foal to free him and drive him from the mud.  Several horses worked together to free the foal.

Unfortunately, the hooves of the frantic adult horses degloved the entire hide on Ari’s right rear leg.  It was AWFUL.  Rescuers from LRTC and Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue quickly worked a plan to grab the foal and take him to the hospital for immediate and intense treatment.

Let’s PLEASE help these selfless volunteers with Ari’s huge medical bills.  All donations are 100% tax deductible!  A HUGE THANK-YOU in advance!

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The foal stuck in the marsh with the adult horses pawing at him and driving him out.

Rescued and on the way to the hospital – his right rear leg was totally degloved (no skin left).

Scroll down to see the photo, if you want. Don’t if you don’t want to…

THE WHOLE STORY… with the sensitive photo below.

From Willis Lamm:

This incident was a bit unusual so I’m sharing it. The images are sporadic since all hands were working at times, plus this was the kind of incident where the circumstances changed and members were arriving at different times.
At approximately 1230 hours a report was received of a foal apparently bogged in a marshy section along the edge of Washoe Lake. (It’s been our experience that during drought years when the water recedes, marshy ground that normally would be underwater is exposed and vegetation can grow on it, attracting animals.)
A water / mud rescue response was initiated with Rescue-1 out of Washoe County and Incident Support-1 out of Lyon County. Some Washoe responders arrived on the east shore and determined that the only practical access was via watercraft so a kayak was requested.
While waiting for the kayak, some other horses went over to the marsh where it appeared that a stallion pawed and pulled the foal free. They then swam across to the east side of the lake. The water / mud rescue units then stood down.
Shortly after the stand-down, the members in the field called for a transport trailer. It turned out that the foal had been injured, had been “rescued” by the wrong band, and the stallion was driving it back into the hills. Transport 3 out of Lyon was dispatched.
We established incident command on GMRS as cellular service was spotty due to the hills. “Recon-1” was designated to go find the members that had caught up with the foal as it is easy to get lost in the back country and we didn’t want to commit other resources without knowing where they needed to go and how to get there.
Recon-1 located the group and provided directions.
Since access was rough, Plan-A was to do a takedown, put the foal in a pickup and bring it down to Transport 3 that was staged near a road. The team had passively surrounded the foal and enough members had arrived to encircle it with construction netting (snow fencing.) Although lacerated and limping, the foal had regained some vigor and avoided the takedown, pushing through the netting. Nobody moved when that occurred so the foal only went a short distance whereupon the group reestablished a passive circle, this time without the netting.
Plan-B was to bring Transport-3 up to the scene. The route in involved a steep climb up a rough Jeep trail. It was decided that Recon-1 would pull the trailer as that crew was in a pickup that had the most aggressive tires. Transport 3 was uncoupled, hooked to Recon-1 and the original tow vehicle for Transport 3 left to bring a panel trailer in case additional panels were needed.
At the scene, we positioned Transport 3 in an area that wasn’t too covered in brush and built a funnel chute with the panels carried on the unit. We reinforced the “weak side” by parking a pickup at one end of the chute. We stashed the construction netting in a couple of strategic locations in case we needed it, but the plan was to slowly move the foal using a modified Navajo circle.
In a Navajo circle people quietly surround the horse and in a very quiet and coordinated manner, move so that the horse will “drift” in the desired direction. It’s critical for everyone involved to employ the same level of energy so as not to cause the horse to rush the opposite side of the circle. In this case the circle was modified by leaving an opening facing the funnel chute.
In these operations we have a Line Captain who calls out the moves. Often it’s on the order of “three steps,” where everyone takes the requested number of steps, then gets quiet and we see where the horse might go. We repeat the process allowing the horse to process each time and drift away from the low pressure energy and toward the desired direction.
The circle starts with everyone fairly well spread out. Naturally as we get closer to the opening of the funnel chute we can close ranks and make the circle smaller. But we have to be careful because too much pressure as the horse starts to feel confined can trigger a “bolt through the line” reflex.”
Once in the funnel chute, we had a pretty good wall of people at the mouth and secured the chute. Three people were now in the enclosed chute on the opposite side of the foal from the trailer gate opening. Moving away from the people, the foal checked out the trailer, then put a hoof in that made a loud noise and he startled back to the far end of the enclosure. We quietly repositioned opposite from the trailer and this time the foal stepped in.
We moved the foal into a forward section of the trailer, secured the panels, and Recon-1 very carefully crawled back over and down the hill and took the foal to Comstock Equine where he was examined and lacerations were treated. He was also given IV fluids and antibiotics.
As of this writing no injuries appear to be life-threatening when treated but they were significant enough that the foal would likely have not made it if left out, even if reunited with his dam.
I should also point out that in these kinds of situations where we’re bringing a feral (wild) horse into a veterinary facility, it’s critical for everyone to stay calm and “supportive.” It’s important that the horse learn from this experience that humans aren’t a mortal threat so we don’t end up with a rodeo when the veterinary team has to handle and treat the horse.
In some instances a horse can be sedated to increase compliance but it can be risky until the horse has been examined and sedation is appropriate. So whenever possible, a horse that will likely be sedated needs to at least have an initial exam.
We’ve actually had horses that were deemed too much of a risk to be brought into the hospital be examined and treated (include being sutured) in the trailer. Given that even a stock trailer is a confined space, everyone has to keep the energy level down and observe the horse’s response to being examined and treated.
These vets are pretty experienced in treating range horses that we bring in and they do an amazing job.
Given the extent of injuries, I anticipate that the vet staff won’t clear this foal to be turned back onto the rang, but rather be tracked for rehab and adoption placement. (Another foal from a rescue a few days ago is also at the hospital.)
Also, during the incident a member was starting to have issues with the heat and had to be transported out. You need to be prepared for anything.
UPDATE: This foal’s lacerations were so severe that when the mud was completely cleared away there was bone showing. The region’s best orthopedic vet examined him and determined that no vital tendons or arteries were involved. The lacerations were cleaned and closed and he was put on IV antibiotics. His progress has been described as “remarkable” and he’s now on oral antibiotics. Barring any unexpected setbacks, he should make a full recovery and eventually be available for adoption. Additional images have been added.
The American Wild Horse Campaign is assisting with some substantial veterinary expenses. Wild Horse Connection is the responsible organization. (Our crew focuses on field responses and occasionally rehab care.)

Rescuers in kayaks noticed foal in distress, stuck in the marsh.

The band stallion and some mares came back to retrieve the foal

The foal was laying in the brush so rescuers created a mesh fence to gather him slowly.

The wild horses did get him to move out of the marsh, but they degloved the foal’s leg as they pawed at him to move.

The massive wound is covered, but you can see the blood…

Beware, the extent of the damages photo is coming…

This is after a few days of recovery… bone was showing previously. It is actually healing nicely.


The worst part of rescue is burn-out… when all is overwhelming.  Let’s  help these wonderful volunteers continue their great efforts!  Let us help them lift this huge medical burden.

All donations are 100% tax deductible.  Thank  you in advance!

  If you receive this post via email, click here to donate! 

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