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BLM Horse Rescue


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9/21/10, San Luis Valley, CO - In spite of all the good in the world, there are still a few people out there that move through their life without a shred of human decency. While on a field trip to inspect vegetation along the Rio Grande (south of the location for our weekend excursion) Melissa happened upon a mare that was nearly starved to death. The owner of this horse had illegally turned the animal loose on BLM graze two or three years ago.  Melissa has seen the mare periodically for the past two years. Most of that time, the mare faired well, but last winter she was carrying a colt, so she came out of the cold season poorly. The mare is elderly and has poor teeth.  With what the colt was drawing off her udder, she started going down hill fast.

When Melissa happened upon the horse yesterday, their was a nice looking buckskin colt at her side. The mare was down to literally skin and bones. It’s doubtful she would have survived many more days.

About 2 pm, I got a phone call to get a saddle horse and the trailer ready, we’re off to rescue a horse.

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A nice, sweet, old mare and her colt on BLM. They have been trapped in a narrow corridor along the river by fencing put up to help reestablish the riparian vegetation.

After driving down a two track road, through several grazing allotments, we came to the place where Melissa had spotted the horse earlier in the day. The mare was so undernourished, she wasn’t hard to find.  She turned out to be a sweet old gal, who gave us no trouble when we haltered her.  Only a taste from a bucket of oats gave her the energy to walk a few hundred feet to the trailer.

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Bone thin, she wasn’t taking in enough nourishment to produce hardly any milk; but everything she ate went into feeding the colt. From the rear, her hindquarters looked really bad.  In better times, she had a buckskin or grulla coloration.

The mare loaded easily, but the colt was a little harder to get loaded.  Finally, after about a half hour, Melissa let out a “yee-haw” behind him and he bolted into the trailer.

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Even though he has had no human contact before today, this colt was just as calm as his mother and had no fear of humans.

Back at the farm, we moved the pair into a round pen and began the process of getting some meat on their bones.

spring 2008

This is how the mare looked when Melissa photographed her two years ago. At that time she was still in pretty good shape and was running with a few other horses.

Apparently, there is a local nefarious character that has released dozens of horses onto BLM and private land (with absentee landowners) hoping the herds will multiply and he can financially benefit from the sale of the offspring.  Of course, hoping to avoid a fine and impoundment fees, he has said that the mare doesn’t belong to him.

Both Melissa and I really like horses, so if nobody claims them (and pays the fines) we’ll probably end up keeping them.  I don’t no how long the mare will last, but hopefully long enough to wean the colt.  Her long term prognosis isn’t good, as her teeth are worn down to the point that she’s passing unchewed hay.  For now, the lads are donating a few hundred pounds of their oats, and I’m giving her alfalfa leaf. With a little hay to aid her digestion, she out to start packing back on a little weight and start producing a little milk. She’s so sweet, she didn’t have any problem with me trying to milk her to see if she has dried up or not (she hasn’t). 

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Back at the farm with a bowl of mash and some hay. This mare has been alone for months, so their weren’t any horses to stand and be a lookout while she laid down for some REM sleep. With horses all around her, one of the first things she did was lay down and get some deeper sleep.

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It’s a nice feeling to give a good shot at life for a sweet little colt like this. Like his mom, he’s a very calm and quiet foal.  He already likes to be petted, and especially a good scratch on the top of those itchy hind quarters.