(June 21, 2021) It’s foaling season on Nevada’s Virginia Range and while AWHC’s PZP program is showing outstanding success, there are still foals being born, albeit far fewer than previous years. Sometimes those foals need to be rescued. That was the case with Bitsy, a small foal who got separated from her mom.
This story is one of incredible teamwork, intergroup cooperation, and dedication! AWHC is lucky to work with the incredible boots-on-the-ground groups in Nevada who work day in and day out to ensure the Virginia Range wild horses stay wild!
In this case, the local organization Wild Horse Connection (WHC) received a call by a community member who said two mares were attacking a new baby. WHC’s President and range manager Corenna Vance called rescue team members from Least Resistance Training Concepts, who arrived to find the filly with a band that had no lactating mares. The filly was obviously very young and one mare had taken an interest to keep her close, but if she tried to nurse the mare would kick or bite her.
The rescue team members secured the baby and upon assessment determined she was no more than 12 hours old, possibly younger, with soft feathers still attached to her hooves. She was tiny, with a coat of velvet and aptly named Bitsy!
The team immediately started giving her oral IgG, carried as part of their Foal Kits, which are funded by AWHC's foal rescue fund. These bottles of IgG contain infection-fighting antibodies normally produced in a mare’s colostrum which is the first liquid a baby gets from its mom. In horses, it is critical that the foal receives these antibodies within the first 12-24 hours of life.
In addition to the life-saving oral IgG, the Foal Kits AWHC funds also include essential interventions that can be administered in the field. These include blankets, foal halters and leads, foal lac (milk replacer for baby horses), Foal Response, a supplement administered to stimulate a newborn’s immune system, wound treatment, and much more! These kits are crucial for on-the-range treatment and release as well as stabilization of foals who are in need of further treatment and evaluation by a veterinarian.
In Bitsy’s case, more WHC volunteers arrived and scoured the area and the nearby hills looking for a mare that had recently given birth, but sadly found none. Unfortunately, there are occasions where band changes happen when the foal is very new. In the chaos of a new stallion taking a band, sometimes the band is run off and a foal can get left behind.
After two hours with no luck, WHC made the decision to call off the search and they transported Bitsy to Comstock Equine Hospital where the vet did an exam and SNAP test. Fortunately, the SNAP test showed she did in fact receive colostrum from her mom and Bitsy seemed otherwise healthy, so they were off to deliver her to LBL Equine Rescue to be cared for until old enough for adoption.
Bitsy was introduced to the foal nursery and her new roommate, Hazel. You might remember Hazel’s story from back in April!
Hazel was not so sure who this new little one was moving in on her space at first, but it didn’t take long for them to become fast friends! Bitsy didn’t love the bottle but took to pail feeding like a champ! She is doing very well and being younger than Hazel doesn’t stop her one bit.
To help LBL Equine’s foal nursery expand to make room for this new little one, AWHC provided a grant to lay rubber stall mats. This is one of many great examples of the intricate teamwork on the Virginia Range. These mats were paid for by AWHC, picked up by a WHC team member, and installed by Least Resistance Training Concepts’ founders Willis and Sharon Lamm alongside WHC and LBL team members. Now, Hazel and Bitsy can be found cuddling and playing on the bedded mats and the two other foals Genesus and Bella Luna can be found kicking up their heels in their bigger, matted pens!
Our village is strong and so is little Bitsy! #TogetherWeCan