After the recent rains, the Tonto National Forest is regenerating and starting to look pretty green. But not all of it is good.
We’ve checked on some colic cases this week, luckily none have been fatal so far. These cases are most likely due to the many mustard weeds, which are the first greens that come up from the bare ground after the rains. The horses are smart enough not to eat them, but they can accidentally ingest them when foraging for grasses.
It has actually been great luck this year that the rains came after all of the mesquite beans had already fallen and were eaten. This has prevented the fatal colic, that result from the mesquite beans getting wet and turning acidic and glue-like. This mesquite colic season is over, because there are no mesquite beans left!
But there is so much mustard weed still. The amazing thing is, that horses help their own environment by flattening these mustard weeds. When the mustard weeds get flattened, it creates micro-climate conditions that hold moisture, which give the the good grasses a better chance to grow. The grasses need a little bit more time to establish and we are hoping for some more rain, so they don’t wither away! (rain in moderate amounts would be amazing)
Nature gives wild horses challenging conditions in Arizona, be it long drought, or poisonous weeds, or acidic beans, but they are amazing survivors!
Thank you to our SRWHMG field team for responding to hotline calls and monitoring horses. No fatalities this year!
📷 by Rick Blandford