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.