By Patti Carpenter
Four foals, dubbed by wild horse advocates as the “Dry Creek quartet,” are now out of harm’s way and under the care of experienced veterinarian Dr. Lisa Jacobson in Northern Colorado.
The foals—individually named by horse advocates as Maestro, Allegro, Cornet and Piccolo– were separated from their mothers, during a helicopter roundup by BLM and State officials near Sheep Mountain in early March. The Cloud Foundation, a wild horse advocacy group, spearheaded the rescue after a kindhearted stockyard owner spotted the baby horses among the adult horses that were about to be shipped to slaughter.
Jacobson, an experienced horse vet and advocate against horse slaughter, estimated that some of the foals were very young at the time they were separated from their lactating mothers.
“It was really staggering that they survived,” said Jacobson. “Some couldn’t have been more than days old at the time of the roundup. Even the oldest was no more than a few months old.”
In spite of their ordeal, Jacobson said the foals were in good health when she received them and they are continuing to thrive.
“If they were sick, we’d be seeing it by now, especially after all the stress they went through,” said Jacobson. “We’re not seeing any coughing or snotty noses. They are eating well and really thriving. At times they are even running, bucking and playing.”
Stacy Newby, co-owner of the Worland Livestock Auction, noticed the foals in the mix with the adults that were about to be shipped to slaughter.
Though she had never seen it personally, she said it is common knowledge that foals, not wanted by slaughterhouses, either die during transport or are killed upon arrival.
“I’ve never seen it myself, but I’ve heard that is what happens and my heart just wouldn’t let that happen,” said Newby. “I knew I could save them and I wanted to give them an opportunity to thrive.”
As the colts were being sorted out, Newby said she wanted them.
“I didn’t really ask, it was more like I just said I was taking them,” she said. “My intent was to raise them, tame them, halter break them and then find them homes. We have the setup to do it and so that was my plan.”
Newby convinced those in charge that she wasn’t taking “no” for an answer, and got the brand inspector to process the proper ownership documents, making her the legal owner.
Once the word got out that Newby had rescued the foals, she was inundated with telephone calls from horse advocates from across the country wanting to adopt the foals.
“I was receiving up to 50 calls a day from people wanting to adopt them,” she said.
For the next few weeks she fed them, while her trusty Australian shepherd dog “Lonesome” watched over them. Newby said the dog stood watch as if he knew they needed protection.
“They had good muscle, a little skinny, but healthier than you would expect,” she said. “And once they figured out that I was the milk lady, feeding them became as simple as pie.”
Kim Michaels of Red Lodge, the Cloud Foundation’s Montana representative, contacted Newby, along with other members from the organization.
“I could tell these gals from the Cloud Foundation really wanted these colts,” said Newby. “They seemed very sincere so I let them take them.”
Ownership was then transferred to Michaels and the foals were transported to Colorado, where they will remain for many months until they are deemed adoptable.
“Lisa (Dr. Jacobson) might have them for up to a year,” said Michaels, who is now the legal owner of the foals.
“This isn’t going to be quick,” said Jacobson. “They will need training to be comfortable around people and will need a lot of nourishment and we’re going to be pretty picky about who adopts them.”
In the meantime, Jacobson said the foals are flourishing and already showing curiosity about their human caretakers.
“Piccolo even nickered at me the other day,” said Jacobson. “That’s the first sound I’ve heard out of them. It was as if she was saying ‘Hey you, open the gate, we want to go inside.’”
Ginger Kathrens, founder of the Cloud Foundation, said she was happy the organization was able to assist with the rescue of the foals but at the same time heartbroken that the organization was not given the opportunity to adopt the 40 horses that were sold to slaughter. She said the organization is already seeking legal advice to find out how this type of action can be prevented in the future.