I am wild, I am free, I am strong, I am victorious. – Shadowfax, yesterday, October 3rd 2019.
While he still has more pounds to gain, his wounds have been mended and the sparkle for life is back in his eyes. A little more time is all this old warrior needs to return to his former glory.
Our field team had been monitoring Shadowfax and the feed team was paying special attention to him, but it was hard to stop his decline as he did not want to eat. Yet we did not give up on him. When an abscess on his forehead suddenly broke with lots of blood, Shadowfax looked like a scene straight out of the walking dead.
Horrible pictures were circulated and the situation became overly dramatic; this put Shadowfax’s life at stake that very day.
Without disparaging anyone, we feel obligated to explain. This situation occurred, because public outrage over a terrible looking wild horse will leave euthanasia or removal as the only option, for a government agency under pressure.
We have worked in collaboration with our governing body and Ag Liaison for over a year and a half, and we have facilitated and performed many rescues as well as many needed euthanasia’s; they are merciful endings as opposed to long drawn out suffering. Deciding upon, and performing those euthanasia’s is not easy for anyone, but it is all part of humane management.
Our organization and AZDA have been very much in sync with all of these humane decisions so far. However the negativity and hysteria by outsiders about Shadowfax caused distrust and friction.
At that point we had to consider euthanizing or removing Shadowfax, to preserve our good relationships, especially because those relationships are important to preserving all of the herd.
But then we considered who we would we be, if we made the wrong decision for even one horse? We knew it was not yet his time, so should we give up on one, for the good of all?
We simply could not do it. It would have meant giving up the principles that have guided us for so long. We have found that when you do right by one horse, you do right by all.
So we made it known that we would fight for this horse’s life. It was a risk, it may not have been appropriate, it was not polite and it may have gone against our scope of work, which we have performed diligently all this time.
We were now in conflict with the very agency that took on the task of managing wild horses humanely, when no one else would do it. All over one horse.
Then AZDA graciously gave us what we asked for: time.
We have recently had some meetings to improve and work through some of these differences; we are not going to let outside negativity risk an exemplary program that sets the stage for humane wild horse management everywhere.
So for those of you who think you are helping by posting and spreading frightful pictures of injured horses, we can assure you that is not helping, not unless you want the particular horse euthanized or removed.
We want to thank the AZDA for giving us another chance and for giving this very special horse another chance as well.
We have monitored 27 injured wild horses so far this year who all have recovered or are recovering. We are currently monitoring the strangles cases as well. For more information please see our previously published post on how we monitor injured horses and the deciding factors we use to make these difficult decisions.
We are hoping that we can all learn from this.
We think Shadowfax’s new appearance is symbolic of wiping the slate completely clean.
We especially want to thank those of you who are so supportive. And we want to thank those of you who have donated towards our critically important hay fundraisers.
Let’s all keep it positive, because only positive people can make a positive difference.
Doing right by one, is doing right by all! Way to go Shadowfax old boy!
Photo by SRWHMG Director, Destini Rhone