🌈 The rainbow over the Salt River yesterday was very beautiful but also meaningful, because it appeared right when a precious Salt River wild horse crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Run forever free sweet Valentina! 💔
In the Picture of SRWHMG girls with the rainbow, we look sad and happy at the same time, because we had just helped Valentina cross that rainbow bridge. It is the kindest mercy you can give sometimes. We borrowed the other picture from Lower Salt River Paddlers, by Justin Rath.
It is Valentina’s Rainbow Bridge, if you have a picture of it, please share them in the comments in honor of Valentina.
Here is Valentina’s story:
As most of you already know, preventing needless suffering is one of the very important things we do, and luckily we can do it because of the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the Tonto National Forest (TNF) and the Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA).
Sadly and ridiculously, this IGA is in jeopardy right now, because of the CBD and friends, who are suing the TNF over it. This is why it is vitally important you support our group in any way you can right now, if you love the Salt River wild horses.
What happened yesterday is a good example:
We do not know how or why, but 9 yr old Salt River mare Valentina broke her hind leg badly and her suffering was terrible. Not only was her leg dangling with bone protruding through, but she could not get to the river for a drink and bachelor stallions were harassing her to come with them, and they were even trying to mount her.
(Bachelors don’t do this to be mean. They simply see an opportunity to have a mare of their own and they don’t know that she is in pain. They are just trying to convince her to come with them, but obviously she couldn’t.)
Valentina’s head was low, her eyes were expressing unbearable pain and had we let nature take it’s course, it could have taken several more days of suffering, before she would go down and die from dehydration.
So how in an area of 20.000 acres -which is like the haystack- are we able to find one injured horse -which is like a needle?
- We operate our very important SRWHMG hotline. Please save it in your phone in case you ever see an injured wild horse. (480) 868 – 9301. Thank you so much to Valentina’s caller, you helped make a difference!
- We know the area like the back of our hands, which makes it easy to follow even a vague description and wide search area.
- We do not give up even in 114 degrees. There’s no mountain high and no river deep enough, to keep us from doing the humane thing.
- We have the manpower to change shifts in the middle of an operation when one team gets hot and exhausted.
So in case anyone still has any doubt, let us be very clear; NO ONE has the manpower, the support, the funds, or the dedication to do what we do. Makenzie, our former Salt River Horse Liaison once calculated that it would cost the government 2 to 3 million dollars a year, to cover all of our different programs. Yet we do not charge the government a dime.
Anyway here’s the rest of what happened:
When we found her, we immediately started shooing the bachelors away from her as they were very persistent. Valentina knew we were protecting her and she was grateful to hide behind us.
At that point we assess and send an injury video to our vet and to the AZDA. Wild horses have amazing healing capabilities, and most times we would rather give an injury time to heal, but this time we knew immediately the decision we had to make. Even while it’s never easy to let them go, it is the kindest mercy we can give.
We are very grateful for the AZDA to respond so quickly even while we don’t have a new Salt River horse Liaison yet. It is illegal for anyone to kill a Salt River wild horse, so we always need their permission to euthanize.
We are also always thankful for MCSO Deputy Clint, who cares about the horses deeply. We waited with Valentina until he was finished with another MCSO task and he came all the way from the other side of Phoenix to help. We trust him 100% to do this right, which is not easy. When done precisely, a shot to the brain is instant and humane, and then the body is safe to leave to nature afterwords.
Valentina was a beautiful 9 yr old mare. Like all horses born on the Salt River we documented her when she was born and have watched her live a beautiful wild life. Her parents, both long deceased, were Glory and Valentino.
After leaving her birthband, Valentina became King’s lead mare and she leaves us three beautiful offspring by him: Val, Valerie and Valencia. When King got too old and his band fell apart, Valentina ended up with Gizmo’s band where she stayed, until this so tragically happened to her. When she went missing from that band the other day, we started looking for her, but we were still hoping it might just be a band change. (This is when a mare gets “stolen” by another stallion)
I always say we, because 100 SRWHMG volunteers who care, that’s who we are. It could be any of us who was there, and it’s too many people to thank individually. But on the scene yesterday it was Rick B, Jenn J, Karen C, Pam P, Christine A and Simone.
We were with Valentina in her first moments 9 years ago when she was born at Water Users, and we were with her in her very last moment yesterday.
Before anyone dares to say it, that didn’t make her any less wild. Because the word “wild” doesn’t mean just let them suffer.
It made her lucky to be cared about and humanely managed. She had an amazing beautiful life on the Salt River. She had family, she had beautiful kids and she freely explored every area of her 20.000 acre habitat. Most importantly, she was never chased with helicopters, never was separated from her family, and never knew how cruel mankind can really be.
But mankind can also be kind. Knowing we prevented terrible suffering is a blessing.
Thank you to every single person who supports our mission.
Rest in Peace Valentina.