Born Free: Welcome, Jewell!
June 19th @ 12PM
Three weeks ago a special new foal was born, and she is doing great today! These pictures are from her first day. (she is a lot bigger and sturdier now.) Ironically, this newborn will get to live her life wild and free, mostly because many other foals are NOT being born this year.
Explanation: Even while this is only the first year of our humane birth control program (native PZP), it is evident that we are gaining real control over the growthrate of the herd. Because there is only so much space and limited resources available in the Tonto National Forest, authorities want to see a reduction in the herd size. Therefore it is the success of our darting program (PZP) that will afford the Salt River wild horses their freedom in perpetuity.
We believe that it is much better for a wild horse not to be born at all, than to be born only to lose their freedom and their family later. An unborn horse, is a horse that doesn’t suffer.
So it makes the ones that are being born, a little extra special!
For our documentation purposes we named Sapphire’s foal Jewell, after her sister from 2014, who we tried to save. That Jewell cut her chest open on barbed wire at Butcher Jones, which was just horrible. We did everything to save her, but she died a few days after her surgery, which was one of our earliest heart breaks. We hope that this new little Jewell will live a long and happy life on the Salt River.
FYI: having this foal does not mean that Sapphire’s PZP treatment did not work. When we count back her gestation period of 11 months, we see that Sapphire became pregnant 2 weeks before she received her first dart, so that makes perfect sense. (Fyi, PZP does not harm unborn fetuses and has no health effect on foals)
We missed Sapphire’s ideal darting time, because right after their relocation from Butcher Jones to the river last year, we could not find them for a few weeks. However, Sapphire is now fully contracepted, so after her tenth (10) foal, she will get a break from foaling now.
You can tell that she is a very experienced and protective Moma. You don’t want to mess with her, especially not if you are her new stallion. Her body language in these photos speaks volumes. She gives Solo the “stinkeye”, and touches her foal protectively. This warning means something like: ” she’s mine, don’t look at her the wrong way and don’t even think about coming any closer.” Her ears and eyes speak the unspoken language that Solo understands perfectly, and he obediently looks away.
After our volunteers watched this little scene and conclude that everything is well with Jewell and Sapphire, we try to leave the new family alone as much as possible.
When you see a brand new foal like this, or any young foal, the very best thing you can do for them is to stay as far away as possible, with a bare minimum distance of 50 ft – because in order to keep these majestic animals wild, we have to treat them that way.
We want to thank all photographers for respecting their space and for waiting to publish pictures of brand new foals.
Let’s wish her a long and happy life, wild and free.
Thank you for your support, SRWHMG.
Photos by SRWHMG photographer Rick Blandford.
Rick is also a valued member of our darting team. Thank you.