Orphaned Navajo foals thriving in Bonsall

Two months ago, Fallbrook resident Linda Harris took in two foals that were orphaned during a roundup of wild horses on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. The mothers of the foals were slaughtered during the roundup, leaving 17 babies, ranging in age from 2 to 7 months at that time, in a life-threatening situation. They were rescued by Wild for Life Foundation’s Lifetime Equine Refuge which sought foster homes for them.

Harris stepped forward and the two severely malnourished orphan foals arrived at Horse Spirit Ranch in Bonsall on Oct. 12 following a one-week layover in Nevada. During that time, they were treated with special care so they would survive the rest of the trip to California.

The two young horses, Morning Star, a two-month-old brown filly, and Aiyana, a three-month-old black filly were “just skin and bones, with eyes that had seen such things that no one should ever see. Their health was fragile at best,” Harris said.

Helping them regain their physical and emotional health was her primary goal. “Having been approved as a forever Safe Haven Guardian for the Wild for Life Foundation, it is my role to ensure the best possible care will be available for these little ones,” Harris added.

Katia Louise, founder and president of the Wild For Life Foundation (WFLF), a 501 (c)3 nonprofit charity, organized the rescue mission. The foals were transported to Nevada where the remaining weaker and smallest foals are receiving continued medical care, plenty of milk replacer, feed, hay and lots of TLC under the WFLF.

“This is just the beginning for these orphaned foals,” said Louise. “It’s going to take months for many of these little ones to heal, build their strength up and overcome the physical and emotional injuries they sustained during the roundups.”

“These sacred and majestic horses heal our hearts and they can heal the lands,” added Louise. “As ambassadors for the horse nation, these 17 surviving foals through WFLF will be helping to educate and show the world that the re-introduction of horses to rangelands, in truth, can rejuvenate the environment.”

At Horse Spirit Ranch, Morning Star and Aiyana are also being cared for by Lynne Hayes, ranch owner, and veterinarian Dr. Matt Matthews who has an extensive neonatal background from his university training. According to Harris, Matthews directed the foals’ return to health by putting them on a special diet of warm mashes (colostrum, mare’s milk replacement, electrolytes), as well as high-protein foods since their little bodies were incapable of processing hay.

Harris said a large stall was also provided for them “with lots of soft shavings, heat lamps, a constant food supply and lots of love. Here they will spend as long as they need, just learning to trust while regaining their health.”

On Dec. 5, Harris said the foals had doubled in size since their arrival. The week before, Matthews told her, “They are a success, thriving, growing, and out of danger.” She is “raising them as companion horses at liberty with natural horsemanship techniques,” meaning without whips and not restrained by reins or ties.

Harris described the recovered foals as intelligent, alert, curious and just happy; they are “sweet as apple pie. If I drop my hat, one of them will pick it up for me.” They have learned to trust humans again, “eager to be with us and do what we are doing. They are amazing companions,” she said.

The foals are being introduced to trail, dance and dressage exercises; “if they like it, they can do it,” if not they are not forced to do it, she explained. Eventually the foals will live with her on her own ranch. In the meantime, Harris is filming their progress for a documentary and according to her, the foals love the cameras.

With the rescued foals, she wants to demonstrate that “just because they were born wild, that sacred connection between man and horse can still be ignited.”

It is anticipated that the other surviving foals will need special care for several months. Funds are being raised to pay for needed medical care/supplies, feed and hay for them until they are strong enough to travel to their final rescue destinations.

If anyone would like to help support this rescue effort, donations to the WFLF are tax deductible. To donate or learn more about the horse rescue, visit www.wildforlifefoundation.org/Navajofoals.html and www.savingamericashorses.org.

10 Responses to "Orphaned Navajo foals thriving in Bonsall"

  1. RT Fitch   December 20, 2013 at 2:33 am

    Good job to all of you…your efforts have brought a ray of sunshine out of a bloody and horrible situation.

  2. Maggie Frazier   December 20, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Its certainly good to hear some uplifting news about the horses – there sure has been enough of the sad! What does it say about the so-called humans that slaughtered all those mares knowing that these foals were too small to survive on their own? Not much. Good luck, Linda Harris

  3. gone and glad   December 20, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Bless you for taking these animals and caring for them. Wish more people didn’t think that animals were disposable. That includes cats and dogs.

  4. FR86   December 20, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    When I read the story I was a bit set back that the slaughter of these wild horses was done so abruptly by the Navajo as the story reported. If this is true, the Navajo have forgotten the debt that we owe to these creatures.

    As Mark Twain said " Contact with my own species tends to disappoint me"

    Please make any contribution to the welfare and future of these beautiful creatures.

  5. gail   December 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    God will bless you forever. What is happening to our country? I always thought the native Americans cherished our beautiful horses. They are no better than the blm. I am going to contact the navajo nation about this disgrace. What would have happened to them if nobody cared? Our wild horses and burros should be cherished not condemned!


  6. FR18   December 21, 2013 at 8:15 am

    surreptitious with rapid implementation seems to be the BLM, fish and game, Piute and now Navaho formula. I can no longer stand to look at Navaho jewelry. The Navaho members who gathered these horses, sending them to slaughter are not braves, they are desperate squaw too lazy to do honest, humane work. Their "Chief" should be replaced.
    Obviously, the navaho’s involved cared nothing for these lives.

    What Linda Harris has managed is wonderful, Seems like she is getting along well with her new equine friends. Indeed, she has proven that equines and man can connect, especially if they are rescued so young and in need of their mother. She is another one of our humane Champions.

  7. Julie   December 21, 2013 at 9:53 am

    FR18 – Here is some perspective for you.
    The Navajo tribe may not have ever even seen these wild horses. Their land is vast, covering the corners of three states: Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. The Navajo Nation is the largest reservation in the United States, covering 27,673 square miles.
    Also, the poverty of this tribe is so bad. Their unemployment rate is about 75% and they are struggling just to survive, so even if they did know about the horses, they are focused on feeding their families.
    They do take jobs outside the reservation but the area is depressed.
    Hope that helps. Compassion is what they need.

  8. scott   January 2, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Keep up the good work

  9. FR18   January 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Sorry Julie, but my compassion and pity goes to these helpless, voiceless horses, the mares that are torn away from their babies, not yet weaned, then hauled to Mexico for their terrorizing, cruel death. Do you think the people who rounded up these horses had compassion? Perhaps your tribal government will explain where the money for this slaughter resides. Is this what you want from your tribal government? I’m sorry Julie but pity for the tribe is no excuse for horse slaughter.

    The heartfelt people who saved these little fuzz tails will be rewarded, they have huge hearts.


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