An unfoalding story of goodness — so far, so good — then, damn!

(There’s an unfortunate update. And some good news, too. See below)

& There are worse places for starving, pregnant mares to present a new foal to the world than the Abiquiu-El Rito-Medanales Ruralplex*.

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Mom, showing off her hip bones.

Just ask this lady, whose name I don’t know, but who currently answers to the name of “Mom.”

Mom’s a little the worse for wear these days — not only did she go through the lonely process of foaling a gangly-legged colt a few days ago, she did it with a body that hasn’t been adequately nourished in weeks, maybe months. It’s amazing, I’d say, that either one of them made it through the other night, with no food, no milk, and very little chance of getting any anytime soon.

But that’s where the mighty Ruralplex went into action.

As I get the story, Stephanie Rosolek had noticed a lone, skinny appaloosa mare grazing along the side of Highway 554 south of El Rito and had helped her get to some old bales of hay she found nearby. She had called her neighbor, Valerie Gray, to express her concern about the horse’s condition. Last Sunday (Aug. 4) the two of them went back to the area. The horse wasn’t there, but her tracks were. The two women followed the tracks up the hill, and came to a corral in the midst of a mobile home residential area.

There, they found the mare and an appaloosa stallion outside of the property’s fence, and the brown mare — who turned out to be Mom — inside. Soon, they met the owner — a man who is very ill, and who they choose not to identify — who told them that he is no longer able to care for the three horses. He had simply set the appaloosas free, he said, in hopes that they could find food to sustain themselves.

It’s not a story that’s anything new around these parts, of course. People are dumping horses along the roadside all over the southwest. (I’ve written some about it here.) But this wasn’t just anywhere, it was right next door.

The owner’s tale of casting out his horses was enough bad news for one day, but the man had more of it: The mare, he said, he had kept inside the fence; she had just given birth. Gray and Rosolek hadn’t seen a foal, and they went back the next morning to look again. And they found a colt — a day or two old, not knowing how to drink from a nearby bowl, licking the foliage of a juniper bush in an attempt get water. He hadn’t been fed; his mother was literally skin and jutting bones, barely able to nourish herself, certainly unable to produce any milk.

Gray began “sweet talking” (in Rosolek’s words) the owner to convince him that the horses needed care immediately. “This baby’s going to die in the heat today,” Gray remembers saying. Finally, Gray got the owner’s permission to take ownership of the horses. “He agreed to do the right thing,” Rosolek said. With permission in hand, Gray and her husband, Marat, picked up the colt, put him in the back of the family’s blazer, and she drove them home to the Gray homestead, with the colt’s head in her husband’s lap. “The baby hasn’t bonded to the mother,” Gray said Tuesday, “but it sure has bonded to my husband.”

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Gray, helping the colt get up from a nap. A mare’s nudge would have done the trick, but the mare, just now, isn’t interested.

As of Tuesday, Mom was still skinny but eating hay, the colt was still shaky and needing a little help to get up from a nap, but so far, so good. (See Update, 8/7 below)The Grays are keeping Mom and the colt in a hastily-erected enclosure next to their house, and appealing to neighbors to help them find donations of hay or the money needed to buy enough $40-a-bag formula to feed the colt about a quart every 3-4 hours for as long as it takes to get his Mom restored to a normal weight.

Rosalek, Gray and some other neighbors also have been trying to find a home for the two appaloosas, but have had no luck in finding a shelter with any room. Calls to The Horse Shelter near Cerrillos, and other shelters in other areas, all have been met with the same answer — “they’re filled up and some are even considering euthanizing horses,” Rosalek says.

So, for the time being, they’ve turned to more people willing to help, and found a corral — courtesy of Bob Trujillo, owner of the now-closed Trujillo’s Store on Highway 84 south of Abiquiu — where the two appys now are being held.  “We’re looking for donations of money and hay to feed all of these horses and the colt,” Rosalek says. She can be reached at 685-0798; Gray at 685-4917. Donations also can be left at the Abiquiu Post Office, she said. Gray and Rosalek, both artists, also have talked about putting some of their work up for an auction to try to raise money, either to help pay the costs of feeding or finding new homes for the horses, or to use in the future for an Abiquiu-area horse rescue effort.

Gray says she and her husband, along with their 4-year-old son Daniel, have decided to keep Mom and her colt — “but the mare has been through enough,” Gray said, “so I promised her I would never, never ride her.” And somewhere along the line, they’ll probably come up with better names than “Mom” and “the colt.”

*& According to all the local teevee people who populate our screens, particularly the WeatherPeople, the area around the City of Albuquerque is known as the “Metro,” which I assume is an abbreviation of Metroplex. Metroplex is the name given to an area that cannot be described in any other creative way, like “ChicagoLand,” or “Shaky City,” or “The Bay Area” or “The Big Apple.” Albuquerque does have a nickname — The Duke City — but nobody seems to want to use it. So, it’s just “The Metro.”

Well, it’s also tough describing this area of South Central Rio Arriba County — you can’t call it “The Abiquiu Area,” because everybody around it gets mad. So, you’ve got to make up a name. So, why not the Ruralplex? Or, for the WeatherPeople at least, let’s just call it “The Rural.” Whatever it’s name, it’s filled with a lot of nice people, including some determined horse rescuers.

& Just having learned that Mom is now named “Sky” and the colt — having escaped orphanhood and a miserable existence — is named Ollie (now, that’s a Twist) — I’m outta here.

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Update: 8/7: The bad news: Ollie the colt died. As I was writing this, he was starting to fail — brand-new to the world,  he’d gone too long without nourishment before he had been rescued, and despite the Gray’s efforts to warm him with electric blankets, feed him formula with a turkey baster, and even comfort  him inside their house, he couldn’t make it. He was buried this morning, just down the road from where he was born, next to some other horses I have known. He’s in good company.

The good news: A nice guy who lives not far away has decided that the two appys would make good companions for his older horse on a few acres north of here. He’s picking them up and taking them to their new home.  The Grays will keep Mom/Sky. That’s three horses rescued, and…several thousand yet to be. Wherever you are, do a little something to support your local horse shelter. They could use your help.

Update 8/12: Stephanie Rosalek wrapped it up for is this morning, with this message:

Monday morning about 9 o’clock. The appaloosas saw the horse trailer back into their temporary stall at Bob Trujillos. At first they didn’t like the looks of the situation. So I filled the front end of the trailer with grain, hay,magic carrots and in they walked. First the Mare and then the stallion, realizing he was going to miss out, if he didn’t get in there also.
 Their new owners called me 45 minutes later, to let me know they made it safe. As soon as the two horses saw the green pasture they didn’t want anything to do with the dried hay.
The Mom mare {Sky} is staying in the Abiquiu area. For now she is content with plenty of food and water and happy to look in her new owners (Valerie and Marat Gray) kitchen window to say, Hi! Eventually after Sky’s health improves, she is going to need a bigger pen. Which her owners are planning.
Any further donations of food are appreciated,  Valerie can be reached at 685-4917. Any cash donations with go towards vet costs and fencing. You can call Stephanie at 685-0798.
I want to send out a large thank you! To everyone who stepped forward in our community to help with these horses.
THANK YOU Stephanie

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