We received a phone call asking for help transporting a baby horse (only a few days old) to veterinary care following an attack that Baby Horse sustained from a pack of wild dogs. The foal’s leg was in rough shape and there was concern that his condition might worsen by delaying a visit to the vet. The foal was located on the Navajo Reservation approximately 30-40 minutes from the vet which is located in Gallup, NM. That seems easy enough, right? Well, any other time it might be but of course these are not normal times. Due to the concerns over the rapidly spreading Coronavirus, Gallup, NM was completely locked down for non-essential travel. We reached out on Facebook to see if anyone would be able to help in this endeavor and we heard back from Lee Ann.
Approximately 4 years ago, Lee Ann found out about our rescue through her aunt, Debbie Schwartz, who was a volunteer with Wildhorse.
Being a fellow animal lover, Debbie donated to Wildhorse for Lee Ann’s birthday. Sadly, that was the last present Lee Ann ever received from Debbie, as a hiking accident in Sedona claimed Debbie’s life shortly after. Following Debbie’s death, Lee Ann reached out to Wildhorse to inquire about fundraising on our behalf to honor Debbie. It was at that time that we informed Lee Ann that her Aunt had also filled out paperwork to adopt a horse. A fitting Aunt Debbie surprise, as she was always doing spontaneous things and telling the family about it later. As it turns out, this week is the anniversary of Debbie’s passing. Lee Ann explained that the best way to honor Debbie would be to take the car which she inherited from Debbie and drive 7 hours to rescue a baby horse. 7 HOURS! Lee Ann explained that it was that kind of spontaneous spirit that Debbie had passed on to her and she could think of no better way to celebrate the life of a passionate animal lover than to embark on a rescue mission. Lee Ann explained that she only had a Hyundai Elantra, which we told her would be just fine for the tiny foal. She told us that she would bring her friend, Stacy, with her to help bring the foal to the vet. While Lee Ann has some background knowledge in human medicine, Stacy has a ton of horse knowledge having grown up around horses and raising them on a ranch of her own.
Suffice it to say, the two had no idea what they were in for. They drove 7 hours all through the night in order to get to JoAnn who was located on the Navajo Nation Reservation. Once they made contact with JoAnn, she took them to her ranch and showed them the poor baby’s leg. JoAnn had cleaned it and wrapped Baby's leg.
Stacy helped hold Baby Horse still and calmed Mama Mare while Lee Ann cleaned the area again of dirt and debris with a sterile solution before applying a sterile abdominal pad and veterinary wrap. JoAnn showed Lee Ann and Stacy some of the other concerns she had, including a foal who was recently born. She was concerned because the foal was not eating. Stacy and Lee Ann determined that the foal was in extreme distress. He was breathing rapidly, stumbling and staggering because he was having difficulty standing while he was desperately trying to find shade. The girls immediately called us to inform us of his serious condition and suddenly there were two foals being rescued instead of one!
We went to work immediately calling the vet to push up the appointment time up and arrange for the second foal to be seen. The girls carried both babies and positioned them in the back seat of Lee Ann’s Hyundai Elantra, (for those who don’t know, it’s a small 4 door sedan), and high tailed it to Gallup.
As they approached Gallup, a checkpoint was still set up. There was a male police officer as well as a female in military attire who were stopping cars. The female gestured for the girls to stop and state their purpose for entering Gallup. The girls told her they were with Wildhorse and had two Baby Horses in critical condition in the back seat. Suddenly her face changed from skeptical to sheer amazement as she glanced in the back seat and saw the two foals. Lee Ann and Stacy said her face just lit up as she told the girls, “GO! GO AHEAD! THANK YOU LADIES AND GOOD LUCK!” The girls were relieved as they continued to the vet in Gallup.
Once at the vet’s office, they followed COVID19 protocol and contacted the vet via telephone and expressed that at least one of the horses was in extremely critical condition and time was of the essence. The vet staff met the girls at the car and brought the foals inside for further examination. The vet’s office did not carry milk replacement, so the girls found a feed store in Gallup to purchase the milk replacement and bring it back to the vet’s office. In the vet’s office, the girls helped feed both foals and decided to name them while they were waiting for further instruction from the vet’s office. The darker brown foal who was attacked by a pack of dogs, they named “Jack Jack” and the blonder foal who was severely dehydrated they named “Gus Gus”. The girls picked the names of two of the mice in Cinderella who turned into horses because they felt it would inspire hope that these two babies would grow up to be big strong horses just like in the fairytale.
Understanding that the vet was limited in terms of the care that he could offer to the two babies, the girls contacted us to set them up to rendezvous with two of our other Wildhorse members at a “halfway point” in order to bring the horses to more definitive care that they desperately needed and a bigger car so that someone could ride in the back with them and give them the constant care they desperately needed.
Deb and Laurie joined the race to save the babies as they drove towards the meeting point near Tonto National Park. Lee Ann and Stacy loaded both Jack Jack and Gus Gus back into the car and made their way towards Deb and Laurie, the four coordinated by phone the entire way.
While driving, Jack Jack continued to put his head on the center console and whinny for attention. If his whinnying did not yield sufficient attention, he followed up with nose nudges and kisses, even a playful nip once. He was like a big dog! Gus Gus remained very lethargic and still for a majority of the car ride but being in the air conditioning seemed to help slightly as his breathing improved.
Once Lee Ann and Stacy reached the meeting point, Deb and Laurie were there with open arms, and what a welcome sight they were! As Deb and Laurie saw Gus Gus’s condition, they realized how serious his situation was. Gus Gus was lifted into the back of the SUV where Deb began to assess him while everyone worked together to mix more milk replacement and prepare for another syringe feeding. All four took turns feeding Gus Gus and Jack Jack before Deb and Laurie took off as fast as they were able to, to get the boys to definitive veterinary care.
Deb and Laurie on the way to Gilbert, AZ to Arizona Equine Surgical and Medical Centre with the Babies! It will be a late night.
Check this page for Updates regarding Jack and Gus!