August 7th @ 8PM
Have you ever watched a nature documentary and wondered why the documentary makers just let the baby elephant suffer and die?
Yes, us too. So we didn’t do that. Our case being newborn foal, Soldier. This is part one of his story…
Our volunteers were just on their routine walks through the forest, when they came upon a wild scene of running and fighting and chaos, on the morning of July 3rd. There were concerned members of the public too, and everyone realized there was a newborn foal in the midst of the dust and that it was getting knocked around every time it tried to get up. His mom was desperately fighting for his life! (We have footage of it, but it’s not for the faint of heart)
She fought so many intruder stallions and was tougher than most of them; she made unbelievable maneuvers keeping her body protecting her foal at all times. But then, the stallions seemed to gain the upper hand; there were too many of them. They got her separated and away from the foal, who crawled under a branch. Some of the intruder stallions sniffed the foal and then showed aggression towards it.. Were we going to witness the cruelty that nature sometimes bestows?
We deciphered what was going on: Lead stallion Sarge had just lost his entire band the week before, due to VSV disease weakening his hooves; he could barely walk. Young bachelor stallions are opportunistic and notice these types of weaknesses in lead stallions. That is very normal since the young studs are driven to establish bands of their own.
So all of Sarge’s mares were conquered by the next generation of Salt River horses, but we knew that old Sarge had not given up on his one true love, Serena, whom he has been together with for over 10 years. He stayed at a distance, but was always keeping an eye on her, even while he knew he was no longer in charge.
Out of all young bachelors, it was Ducey who had conquered Serena. But Ducey is only 3 years old, and not an established warrior, which the other bachelor stallions knew very well.
So Serena was in an “unstable” band situation when she gave birth to Soldier. This explained all of the chaos and fighting, because many different stallions were battling Ducey and Sarge, for Serena. Normally Sarge would have won that battle with one warning, but we knew he couldn’t.
So we didn’t think it was a fair fight. We are grateful for the permission by the AZDA to interfere in exceptional situations, because it would also be reasonable to walk away and let nature be nature.
But that day, we did not feel like watching this newborn die, especially since we have very few newborns this year. We also did not want to steal him from his courageous mom either, just to save his life.
So the decision was made to form a large protective circle around the mare and foal, and we chased off the intruder stallions. Ducey and Sarge were still helping, and fighting the more persistent stallions.
Then finally peace returned and we watched as Soldier was able to stand up and wobbled to get his first drink of colostrum. Yay!
But that is not the end of the story yet. Soldier did get kicked, and has had a swollen hock and a severe limp. We have been monitoring him and his little family every day since that day. We’ve seen slight improvements, but he is not out of the woods yet, and anything can still happen.
Ducey is the lead stallion now and Sarge turned into his lieutenant. Sarge’s hooves have gotten a lot better and bachelor stallions don’t dare attack Serena or her foal anymore. The respectful order has been restored. But Soldier has a long ways to go.
We had not seen them for a couple of days, because the river is up very high, but today we checked on the little family with the help of MCSO and AZDA per helicopter and per fanboat! We are so appreciative of that!
They are safe on the other side of the river.
Sometimes in the mornings, you can see them come to the water’s edge for a drink.
- Sarge is the gorgeous grey (white) horse
- Ducey is the Chestnut with the crescent star
- Serena is the shiny dark solid bay
- Sergeant is the yearling big brother
- …and Soldier is the cutest but toughest little foal you’ve ever seen- with a noticeable limp.
We ask of everyone, that we please all give them their space, and give them their time to heal. It can still go either way… Nature can be so cruel, but it can also be so amazing. So Soldier on, little one!
Please don’t just glance over this post.
- Please let us know that you agree with our decision by giving us 5 stars in our Facebook reviews?
- Please help us send the best thoughts and vibes and prayers up for little Soldier.
- And please help us thank AZDA and MCSO for truly caring.
We also want to thank the public for helping so much that day, and of course we thank our dedicated volunteers for finding and monitoring Soldier every day.
Here are some “snapshots” of that day by Shannon Hastings, Destini Rhone and Rosa Rhamstahler and Paul Martin, who all helped actively.