Recently, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG), a nonprofit conservation based in Arizona, found a baby foal alone by the side of a river. The baby, a member of a herd of wild horses, had been forced out by his family’s head stallion. The rescue team hadn’t seen any thing like it in all of its 18 years. Shocked, they brought the adorable foal, whom they named Rosco, back to their conservation facility. Now, they are nursing him back to health and they’ve even taught him how to nurse with a mare! Read Rosco’s rescue story below and find out how he’s doing now!
Rescue workers at the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group study wild horse herd dynamics, so they’re familiar with all aspects of horse behavior. But this was the first time they had seen anything like this.
The foal was violently forced out of its herd. First, the stallion of the herd tried to kill the baby horse, while its mother stood helplessly to the side. When the stallion was unsuccessful, he stood between the foal and its mother until the whole herd left it behind.
SRWHMG wrote of the incident: “In all 18 years we have never witnessed this kind of aggression toward a newborn before.”
Ten rescue workers were on hand when it happened, but they couldn’t prevent the herd from leaving. After a few hours of waiting for the herd to come back, they realized the other horses had left this little foal forever.
The team quickly brought the baby to a vet who inspected him. The foal wasn’t seriously hurt but required a IV to give him strength. He was fed a mixture of plasma and colostrum, or mare milk, every two hours on that first day. The foal’s condition soon improved, and his caretakers named him Rosco.
SRWHMG wanted to integrate Rosco with horses again, so they found a nursing mare who had recently lost her own baby to help him. But Rosco wasn’t interested, at least at first.
“[Rosco] does not see the mare at all as a food source,” Simone Netherlands, president and founder of the SRWHMG, told The Dodo. “Now we have to teach little Rosco to drink out of a baby bottle again.”
Volunteers are caring for Rosco around the clock. Once Rosco is ready, Netherlands hopes to integrate him into a family of rescued wild horses.
This has been difficult for Rosco’s caretakers.
“He’s so adorable and cute that we have to resist ourselves from petting him every day,” said Netherlands. “At this point he doesn’t think he’s a horse. He thinks he’s a big dog.”
There’s still a lot of work to do to help horses like Rosco. The Salt River wild horses are not protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, and in the past, the government has issued notices, saying that the horses were a menace and that they would round them up and dispose of them.
SRWHMG is fighting hard to get the Salt River wild horses both protection under the law and a territory of their own. We hope the find success quickly so that these horses are granted the same rightts as other wild horses.
Netherlands said, “Our goal is to work together through a memorandum of understanding to manage the horses humanely.”
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