This story came in from Willis Lamm who is so knowledgeable about the wild horses and the range. The Horse and Man Foundation has often helped his team with their large animal rescue equipment.
Bravo for another successful save!
Click here to go to the original story.
Lockwood Landfill Foal Incident. 6/8/19 (middle of the night.)
Sharing this one as it was a bit unusual. It also illustrates how teamwork can bring about unexpected results… and also why it’s sometimes better to be lucky than smart.
In the Virginia Range volunteers go out and document range horses including recording detailed descriptions, photos, etc. that go into a data base called WHIMS (Wild Horse Identification Management System.) To cut to the chase, some photographers noticed a foal getting beaten up by other horses in the Lockwood Landfill area. It’s not all that uncommon for foals to drift onto the wrong side of fences, to get separated by other barriers or end up following the wrong band when the stallions have skirmishes and the horses scatter.
Maureen and Tracy were the closest TLAR responders. They found the foal, about 3 weeks old, and kept it away from the incorrect band where he was getting treated aggressively. The issue now was getting him out of extremely rocky terrain and either back to his band or into holding for the night in hopes of finding his band the next morning for a reunion.
For those not familiar with the geography, Lockwood is on the north side of Storey County, alongside I-80. The rest of the responders had to come in from Stead (north of Reno,) Hidden Valley (south Reno) and central Lyon County.
It was getting quite dark when most of the responders arrived and were staged below a maze of Jeep trails. Shannon, who had arrived before dark, picked her way through the countryside in her pickup and led the rest of us up to a location near the foal. Meanwhile the foal had started to leave, so Maureen and Tracy tackled him and carefully held him down in a spot that wasn’t littered with rocks. We spotted one of their flashlights and made our way down to them.
We had a couple of immediate issues. First was to safely contain the foal. There were other horses in the area that weren’t his band and we had to avoid his getting back up, running up to them looking for someone to nurse from and getting kicked or bitten. (Stallions in particular don’t like strange foals trying to nurse from them.) We made a blindfold out of a sweatshirt that also served to protect his eyes and fashioned a quick halter out of a long length of soft utility rope.
We offered the foal some milk replacer to see if that might help comfort and calm him, but he didn’t want to drink lying down.
The next challenge was to get the foal through the rocks up to a roadway where he could be placed in a vehicle. Bringing the foal up was not too unlike trying to wrestle a deer. He was lackluster – until we tried to move him.
Russ made an effective sling out of a jacket while some of the other volunteers worked out the safest path for egress that required moving some rocks.
Walking the foal up to where the vehicles were parked was a bit challenging, particularly at one pinch point where the foal had to be lifted over a narrow slot where two boulders slightly overlapped, but we got the foal out of the rocks. I should also point out that some foals don’t particularly cooperate with being placed in the back seat of a Jeep and this guy was no exception.
For safety, both Tracy and Kevin rode in the back seat with the foal. Then we started down the arduous network of Jeep trails in the dark with Shannon leading the parade of vehicles.
Less than two miles from where he was picked up, our progress was delayed by a band of horses on the Jeep trail. It was possible that this band could actually be the one that the foal came from. Here is where accurate photos and detailed logging in WHIMS played a pivotal role.
In the pitch dark, the volunteers in the lead vehicles were able to positively identify the band and the foal’s dam. She was a bit distant from the others, farthest away from the Jeep trail, appearing to be looking for her foal.
I walked out and carefully encouraged her to move closer to the vehicles. The other volunteers shut off their engines and opened the back door to the Jeep. The foal was now sleeping. We removed the blindfold and eventually the foal looked out the open door and recognized that there were other horses nearby.
We had a plan in place in the event that the foal had become isolated due to rejection and it turned out that we needed to take him in. The dam was only 2 years old and sometimes first time mothers have issues. However in this case the foal made a noise, mama trotted toward the Jeep whinnying, then it was a whinny fest.
It was a brief struggle to get the foal safely out of the Jeep, but the two immediately joined up and the foal nursed for what seemed to be about ten minutes. It was now after 10:00 PM and we needed to get back to civilization.
The lesson here is that everyone, dating back to the documentation volunteers, did a proper job and the cumulative result – including some luck coming across this foal’s band – was based on everyone knowing his and her job. We can take this kind of advantage of good luck by being prepared, keeping our skills sharp and working as a team, no matter which organizations are working together.
On the call (In order of arrival): Maureen Daane, Tracy Scheeler Wilson,Shannon Windle, Carolynn Chamlee Kevin McCoy, Megan McCoy, Lynn Eley, Russ Earle, Leah Earle. Plus huge props to the volunteers who maintain WHIMS as we needed to be absolutely sure we were returning this foal to the proper family unit.
EDIT: Adding a link to a cool video that Leah Earle was able to take.
GREAT WORK! THANK YOU!