CAROL and Leo, friends of the wild ones, frequently
traveled over an old dirt road through the sagebrush along western side of the Virginia
Range between Hidden Valley and Virginia Foothills communities just east of
Reno/Sparks NV to visit and photograph
wild horses, particularly some of their favorite ones.
On Saturday afternoon, 2-27-99, as they meandered down the road, they saw a little dark
filly grazing. They continued on their usual course. When they returned along this same
route. Carol, suddenly and insistently, asked her husband, Leo, to stop. Carol got out and
began walking through the sagebrush toward a band of wild horses in the distance. She came
upon the little dark filly they had seen earlier grazing on the side of the road, but now
she was lying down, hidden amongst tall sagebrush and unable
to get up.
(left) 3-6-99 Bugz's stressed eye.
3-4-99 Bugz's winter coat hides emaciation.
A network of people who love the wild ones went into action. Carol and
Leo cell-phoned Shirley who lives in Hidden Valley and watches over the wild horses in
this area. Shirley cell-phoned Betty, a volunteer from Wild Horse Spirit, who was still in
Hidden Valley area after helping Shirley and Jean that day to repair a fence that keeps
the wild ones safely out of the community proper. Meanwhile, other people began to stop.
One man was on his way home to the Virginia Foothills community after a week driving a
long haul truck across the country. He was familiar with 3-Socks band of wild horses
who had been mustanged from his community in February 1997. He loved the horses and
offered his help, too.
When Betty reached the area, she walked several hundred feet from the road up toward
the filly. She pushed up on her front legs, but could not use her back legs. She scooted
around on her hind quarters trying to get away from us humans.
Had she been hit by a car and now had serious injuries to her pelvis, back, legs? Most
of all would we be able to help her? To "put down" a wild one was our last
option. She was about 6-months-old, with a long dark fuzzy winter coat.
(left) 3-7-99 still not steady on
her back legs.
3-7-99 Bobbi helps Bugz up
by straighten her back legs.
Betty cell-phoned Bobbi at Wild Horse Spirit, requesting that she
contact the vet and Steve, our trainer, for his help and to bring his trailer. Meanwhile,
hay was carefully placed close to her. So as not to disturb her, we then backed up. She
settled down. Still lying down, she slowly and cautiously reached with an outstretched
neck to munch on the hay. This, indeed, was a positive sign from her to us. A small band
of bachelor wild horses was close by her. A young sorrel bachelor made his way to her and
began to nibble her neck while she lay there. This young stallion was trying to get her to
stand up, but she was unable to do so. We discouraged him and he rejoined his buddies
Our regular vet was not on call that late evening. Because of the short winter days, it
would soon be dark. Bobbi was able to contact a vet recommended by Shirley who lives in
Washoe Valley, too. The vet graciously consented to come. Bobbi met her in the Virginia
Foothills and she followed Bobbi along the old dirt road to where the little filly lay.
Steve had already arrived with his trailer. Carol and Leo and the long-haul truck driver
stayed to help. The vet approached the filly and started a preliminary exam. Even though
the filly was reluctant and fearful at first, she calmed down. The vet gave her pain
medication. The vet examined her more thoroughly for any signs of injuries to her back and
legs. There appeared to be no fractures or soft tissue injuries. We all arrived at the
"right and perfect" solution that she not be euthanized, but to give her a
chance as she was alert and eagerly willing to munch hay. By that time it was dark. We
cleared glass, cans and old bedsprings for a safe path for the trailer. With the aid of
flashlights, Steve pulled his trailer through the sand and sagebrush to where the filly
Under the calm, moon light and starry sky, the filly was lifted and placed into the
back of the trailer by all those wonderful people who stayed to help her. We traveled in a
caravan to the vets. Once there, she was again lifted and carried into a stall. She
drank eagerly from a bucket of water placed close to her head as she was not to be able to
get up. Hay was provided. It would be a couple of days or so before we would know how she
was going to do and why she could not get up. It was close to 11PM. We reluctantly had to
leave her for the night.
(left) 3-19-99 Her
winter coat still hides her severe malnutrition.
Betty taking Bugz for short walks for
exercise and strengthening.
BUGZ was loaded with
ticks and parasites. Above all, she was severely anemic (Hgb 5.3). Her thick long winter
coat had hidden extreme mal-nourishment and starvation. Her Body Condition Score (UCD) was
a one out of nine, meaning "poor. No fat or muscle mass. No wonder she could not get
up. She had reached her final destination in the wild. That night and the next day, the
vet began to de-tick and de-worm her. Over 200 winter ticks were eventually removed from
underneath her thick winter coat. All internal parasites were eliminated.
BUGZ, could not get up. On the following Monday after that Saturday, Shirley from
Washoe Valley and the vet, lifted her to her feet. Her legs, particularly the back legs,
were wobbly and weak. She would easily fall. She had to be physically lifted to a
stand each time. Slowly over the next days, she was able to stand and walk without
falling. She began to get up and down on her own. She would walk slowly, her back legs
still weak. Over the next several weeks, she became stronger. Bugz had a good appetite but
would eat only hay or grass and lick her mineral block. She absolutely turned her nose up
at carrots, apples and every kind of grain offered to her. She apparently wanted some
control in her life, a typical wild horse.
Eventually, Bugz and Betty went for slow walks up a winding dirt road, stopping along
the way while she grabbed quick bites of forage. On the way back to her corral, we would
stop in a particular grassy area. Betty would lay down close by watching her munch green
grass. A long lead rope allowed her some freedom. With the walks she slowly began to
regain muscle mass and strength. One day, we were slowly returning down the steep dirt
road. She began to move ahead. Suddenly, Betty felt a thud to her right thigh. Bugz had
cow kicked her. She only wanted Betty to hurry up to get to the bottom of the hill where
all the green grass was.
5-7-99 Close-up of
Bugz's beautiful head.
5-7-99 Bugz beginning to loose fuzzy winter coat.
How Bugz came about is human speculation but we have a pretty good idea
what happened. Bugz is a survivor of the 1998 Christmas Holiday Virginia Range wild
horse slaughter just east of Hidden Valley area. It had been two months since the
shootings. Likely, Bugz was well nourished from her mothers milk at the time her
mother was killed. She was able to survive through the winter months of January and
February 1999. Even with the help of the bachelors who befriended her, she finally could
no longer go on. We know that Pegasus looked over her and guided the bachelor band
with her to the right and perfect place, time and players to get help. One more day and
Pegasus would have taken her upon his wings to rejoin her mother, family and friends.
May 20, 1999 -
Bugz loads into trailer at the vets and
travels to her new home at Wild Horse
is greeted by Shelby
All ©Photos by Betty Kelly.
On 5-20-99, Bugz loaded into the trailer at the vets like a real wild
horse champ. She came home to Wild Horse Spirit to continue her recovery. Betty rode in
the trailer with her while Bobbi drove. She is a blooming flower now. She tries to run,
half buck and shakes her head. Her well bedded stall is next to Shelby, a Virginia Range
wild horse mare, who has been a godmother to other little wild ones. She finally began to
eat Omoline 300 about ten days ago. We would spread a little over her alfalfa. Suddenly,
it seemed to be gone. She had her hooves trimmed as she was getting a little early morning
stifling in the back legs. After she has eaten her early morning feed, each morning she
gets her halter on and is lead out of her corral. She has free run of the property for
exercise and grass to munch on. Recently, she and Shelby went out into the small pasture
area together for the first time. We are beginning to see some muscle return around
her chest and rump. No longer is she like petting a carcass with a fur coat. Dr. Peacock
wants her to get stronger before she is immunized. We expect at least a year for her to
regain the muscle mass and fat she lost during those two months and to keep up with her
normal baby growth.
Thanks to the compassion, concern and help on that Saturday evening and night from
humans, plus her brothers, the bachelors, Bugz is doing well for her ordeal. She is truly as
cute as a bug. If only she could tell us her story, but we believe she has.
Wild Horse Spirit June 15, 1999