Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Year of The Mustang

Adopting Chloe, our wiiiiiiild mustang, has been an incredible lesson in how to live in the moment and let go of the past. She embraces every day as if it is her last. Unfortunately that is a little closer to the truth than I'd care to admit on most days. But more on that later...

Our girl has overcome more in her short life than anyone should and she has done so with a level of grace and openness that is humbling.

I look to her as inspiration to overcome my own personal problems when they arise: if she can learn to move forward without looking back, to trust despite having been betrayed, to love unconditionally with no expectations, to let her heart boldly lead the way, to embrace life with joy and silliness, then I believe so can I no matter what issues I might face.

Chloe's Story

(Note: I do not dwell on Chloe's past but I feel a sense of responsibility to share her story in order to educate people about what is happening to millions of unwanted, neglected, and abused horses. I hope all of our rescued animals' stories help inspire our friends and readers to adopt an unwanted dog, cat, horse, donkey, or any critter and to give them loving and forever homes).

A Wild Mustang at Heart

Chloe is literally a wild mustang: she was born in the wild in the Sand Wash Basin near Craig Colorado in 2003.  I recently ran across a wonderful blog by a woman who photographs and helps protect the Sand Wash Basin herd. I found this picture of a palomino paint mare named Cheyenne who looks like she could be Chloe's mother. And I could easily see the stallion Corona aka Fabio being her father. This is a picture from 2010 of Corona, Cheyenne, and Whisper (a foal who has an injured foot). What a gorgeous group of horses. (If I get permission from the blog owner I will post those pictures here because they are stunning).

First Betrayal at the hands of Humans...

In 2005 Chloe was captured by the BLM in what continues to be a cruel practice of "gathering" or rounding up mustangs off of public lands - often injuring or killing them in the process. (For more information about wild horse round ups please visit The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign to learn more about the issue and what you can do to help.)

The picture above is of a helicopter chasing a herd of mustangs during one such round up-I cannot imagine how terrifying this must be for them.

Her Second Betrayal...

Chloe spent about a year in a BLM holding facility before she was adopted by a crazy woman who supposedly ran a rescue. I am purposely choosing not to mention more details about this case because I do not want her to know where these horses are. In December of 2007 several wonderful people convinced the county sheriff to seize 27 of her horses who were being starved to death. Two other Flowery herd members, Daisy and Lily, were also rescued from that horrible place. The picture above is of Chloe in a safe haven before she was transported to the next "rescue." Sigh...she looks like a little sweet teenage girl, doesn't she?

Strike 3: The Third Betrayal

A friend helped me place Chloe into what she thought was a great home: The 3 Strikes Ranch in Nebraska. This place was supposedly heaven on earth for mustangs who had failed at other adoptions boasting thousands of acres of prairie for Chloe to run on with hundreds of other mustangs. Unfortunately, that placement would come back to haunt us just 9 months later. More than 75 mustangs were found dumped in a ditch, dead from starvation, and another 200+, also starved, were rescued. Chloe was in the worst shape of all of them.

In a cruel twist of fate Chloe broke her pelvis and injured a rear fetlock during the rescue when she panicked and fell while she was being vaccinated in a cattle chute. Sadly this is the reality of moving large numbers of unhandlable wild horses. 

 This is Chloe after her rescue. The little weanling is not Snapdragon-it is another mustang who was rescued from 3 Strikes Ranch.

I knew right there and then that we had to adopt Chloe or she would be put down. A dear friend drove her to CSU's Equine Hopsital - Chloe's odds were not good: starved, parasite ridden, unable to put weight on a rear leg, broken pelvis, and pregnant. She weighed 680lbs when she arrived at CSU - and that's before giving birth.

Here is my sweet girl at CSU-she had a Body Condition Score of 1. Three wonderful vets (Katie Amend & Jenny Sonis from CSU and my own vet Charlotte Obermeier), saved her life as well as that of her baby Snapdragon.

Safe at last...

Chloe succesfully gave birth to a baby bouncing Snapdragon and they both came home after spending 2 weeks at the hospital. Within a few months Chloe was once again able to bear weight on her rear hind fetlock and eventually all signs of that injury disappeared. She still has a dropped hip but as you can see from the videos I continually post she has complete range of motion and gallops, leaps, bucks, rears, and rolls with abandon like the wild mustang she is :)

It has almost been 2 years since she arrived at Dream Valley Ranch and she has become a sweet and affectionate girl and we adore her. She loves attention more than any of the other Flowers or the King :)

Betrayed by her own body...

Unfortunately, the amount of starvation she endured seems to have caused some organ damage and last fall she battled Acute Renal Failure. She stopped eating her hay and grain, began drinking vast quantities of water and plainly just didn't feel good.

Blood tests revealed that her kidneys were failing so we did what we could to give her every chance at surviving including 2 weeks of large quantities of IV fluids. She and I had come a long way by then and I spent 4-5 hours at a time with her getting her 40-60 liters of IV fluids warmed up in the freezing temperatures, sedating her, hooking up the IV line to her jugular catheter, and then spending time with her, just talking and singing and snuggling, while the life saving fluids poured into her veins. And it worked! For a while anyway.

This is a video I made after she made it through the worst of her illness - I posted it on our introductory blog post but it is worth reposting.

Since then she has somehow managed to find a way to compensate and live with Chronic Kidney Failure. During the past 4 months she has kept her kidneys happy by drinking  2-3 times more water than normal and by slurping on her salt block as if her life depended on it (which I suppose it did!)

Sadly I am not sure what changed in the past few weeks but suddenly her water intake has dropped to normal levels. This would be a wonderful sign if everything else was normal but she has also decreased her food intake dramatically. My horses normally each eat about 15-18 lbs of grass hay per day during the winter (that's 1.5-2% of their body weight). Chloe is eating significantly less than 10 lbs/grass hay per day.

And the lessons continue: embrace every moment...

We do not know what is going on but we are concerned. My vet is consulting with specialists and we are watching her closely. The most important thing is that our girl is happy, loving, and playful so we are doing our best to hold onto that. This video was taken 2 weeks ago, just a few days after I noticed the sudden decrease in water intake. She looks pretty happy and silly, don't you think? Heck...maybe she's decided to eat less because bikini weather is around the corner :) See? I'm trying to focus on the moment...just like my sweet mustang taught me!

Mustang Dreams

Chloe is one of the most human-centric animals I have ever known-she stares longingly up as us from her paddock, hoping we will come down and hang out with her. Usually she wants mr smrp or I to scritch her in all of her itchy spots. But sometimes she just wants to be near us. She loves to go on walks and last weekend our trainer took her on a long hand walk down our driveway and up the trails into the woods. My trainer came back in awe: "it was like walking a golden retriever!" she exclaimed. And I am not the least surprised :)

I chuckled as I realized how well that description fit our wiiiiiild mustang. If there is one dream that I can imagine my sweet spotted mustang having it is of coming into the house and hanging out as if she was one of the Guppies, or joining us on a nice afternoon hike, or snuggling on the sofa begging for a taste of my soy latte.

We may not be able to bring her inside but we sure can do our best to spoil her in every way possible so that she knows that every bit of her is loved so very dearly.

I hope so much that this will truly be The Year of The Mustang for my girl - that all of her dreams come true and that she will continue to be with us long enough to enjoy them for years to come. Regardless of what happens she is a hero in my eyes and in my heart. I have never known such a brave soul and I feel so lucky to be able to be a part of her life.

Thank you for reading Chloe's story and thank you for any love you can send her way as we fight this latest battle together.


Vegan Flower said...

Oh my goodness, I'm trying not to bawl my eyes out! Chloe is so gorgeous and it's just amazing how she's changed since living with you. It's heartbreaking what she went through, but I'm so glad that she was taken in by you. Those videos of her are awesome. <3

Lori Skoog said... did a great job with this. I have been reading you since you found Chloe and could not be happier that you found each other. She looks so good. Hopefully grass will come on quickly and it will help her in some way.

I've said it before and will say it again...You and Whit are exceptional people. Thanks for all you do to help animals.

Sending you lots of positive energy from Skoog Farm.

Terry said...

What a horrific past your flower endured!
She certainly has the courage to weather this crisis - sending good thoughts and hope your way.

Sally said...

Thank heaven for people like you!

Wild Dingo said...

It never ceases to amaze me what animals can teach us. Their patience, upward spirit in the face of feeling yucky, just amazing. I'm crossing fingers and paws here in hopes this is nothing to worry about.

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

I could watch Chloe playing videos over and over again. Ha! And I do exactly that. She's the poster child for unrestrained joy! I'll never think of her or you (et al) without knowing I'm in the presence of miracles, heroes and pure love.

We're always sending good strong healing vibes, thoughts and mojo your way!

Annette said...

I remember reading your previous post about Chloe and weeping. What a sweet girl she is. I hope she is able to pull through whatever it is that is ailing her this time. In the meantime, you are so right to just enjoy her and be with her in the moment. Horses teach that so well.

weneego said...

no matter what this is the year of the WILD mustang of the chloe variety! she inspires me, you inspire me! so much!

Brandi said...

Thank you for being her hero, thank you Chloe for being your Moms hero. With all of the love I can muster, it all goes to you at DVR!

Dream Valley Ranch said...

A huge thank you to everyone for the love and kindness sent our way. We are so appreciative!

VF: She is such a pretty and sweet little girl. I hate that she went through that, too, but I'm so happy she is here now!

Lori: I agree! She is pining for grass! We built that small lower pasture just for her so we will let her and her baby spend a LOT of time there this summer! Thanks for the good vibes! You know how much we appreciate your support!

Terry: Thank you for the good thoughts-we are grateful and know they will help!

Sally: Thanks for visiting! And thank you for the kind words!

WD: Thank you for the crossed fingers-it means a lot! Animals certainly teach us more than I could have ever guessed.

Cyndi: I think you know that we will forever be grateful that we heard about the horror of 3 Strikes through you and as a result were able to rescue Miss Chloe. Thank you for the mojo!!

Annette: This is the biggest lesson in living in the moment...not always easy but definitely leaves you with no regrets because you know that you loved them every moment. Thank you for the good thoughts!

Wen: are always the best! Thank you!

Brandi: You know how much we adore you and all you did for sweet Chloe during her first rescue. She knows you are her pony fairy godmother! Sending monster thanks always from DVR!!

KB said...

What a story. Chloe is truly an inspiration... a fighter, a playful pony, and a loving friend. I hope with all my heart that her latest issues can be put behind her. She is the Miracle Mustang who found the perfect humans to care for her. said...

OMG, Sue. I'm speechless and have tears in my eyes. I can't believe what your beautiful girl went through before landing in Heaven with you.

Chloe is stunningly beautiful! She reminds me of a creamsicle. :D

xoxoxo said...

I should specify - her coloring reminds me of a creamsicle. Just gorgeous. :D

pam said...

I'm so glad you left a comment for poor Bobo and his 'woes!' :-) Somehow your new URL got left off my reader and I didn't know you were back writing the blog. yay!!!

Now Miss Chloe - you, little one must get betterer and betterer and grab all the love and support that is pouring out to you. Sweet Chloe, sweet sue, sweet family...

Emma Rose said...

We love Chloe and hope she is doing better. The post was excellent!

Emma Rose

Dream Valley Ranch said...

Wow-what wonderful support from such wonderful people...thank you all so much for the good thoughts being sent to Miss Chloe-she definitely needs them!

KB: She is the Miracle Mustang, isn't she? Thank you for reminding me of her nickname :)

MBF: I totally knew what you meant! She DOES seem like a creamsicle! I always forget how bright and pretty she looks when she sheds her winter coat. But I also love her fluffy winter coat and what a little pony she looks like then :)

Hi Pam! I'm glad you found us again! Tell the Dynamic duo that the Shepherds and Guppies send snuggles! I will tell Miss Chloe to get betterer and betterer per your orders :D

Hello sweet Emma Rose...thank you for visiting and sending kisses. I know Chloe will appreciate them!

xoxo to all!

Brandi said...

From around the world, Miss Chloe prayers are being sent you way. You have more love coming to you, I know your big heart will accept it all. Many blessings and good wishes, for all who care for and love you.

Wild Dingo said...

Hi! thanks for the ideas on "joring"... i would bike jor or skijor in an instant with them only juno is not allowed to pull due to the HD. i have walky dog leashes to attach to the bike but i can't do 2 dogs at once. exercising them one at a time then me takes up a huge part of my day so i try to do both. i mix it up and some days i actually bike jog with one dog at a time (not attached to the bike). both dogs on their own are a piece of cake to handle off-leash. even my "sibe"... she has tons of obedience training and yes the prey drive is there but it's kept in check. (she ran with a horseback rider over a month ago) not aggressively, just happy to run with them, it was fun for her to run next to them. the rider was fine and tried to send her back but she only stopped when she got tired. thankfully that was before she went anywhere really out of site. i plan on working her around horses with a trainer very soon and also other animals to continue to moderate that prey drive. and we plan on snow shoeing the next winter. we didn't get much snow near us this year.

thanks for the info tho! skijoring sounds so much fun!

Paint Girl said...

I have been following Chloe's story from the beginning and she has come so far. She is so lucky to have you in her life and for saving her.
She is definitely a fighter, and a strong wiiiild Mustang!! I will continue to send good thoughts her way!

Sandra said...

You are both an immense inspiration to me: Chloe for being such a courageous, loving, "fighting" girl; you - for your selfless love and the efforts you go through to make your furry gang happy and healthy. Like someone said before me: thank goodness for people like you.

I hope Chloe remembers how she fought against her illness the first time around and does that again - with your help.

Sending loving and positive vibes your way!

Linda said...

What a sad, but amazing story. I remember that 3 Strikes Ranch well. It looked like a great place at the time. I was shocked when I read what happened. You're an angel to her, and I'm sure she appreciates it. She must be a survivor to have come this far. I'm wishing her the very, very, very best. She deserves it.

NRoberts said...

Hi, I do the Sand Wash Basin blog. I am so glad I found you and read Chloe's story. I am so glad she has found a good home with you. She sure does look like Cheyenne. What a beautiful story. I would love to share this on our facebook page we have for the horses. You are an angel! Hope you come visit Chloe's home some day...Nancy PS Please feel free to use my photos.

NRoberts said...

....Chloe's original home (-:

Grey Horse Matters said...

Chloe is an amazing horse, so brave and with a sweet soul. What a shame she had to go through all the trauma and terror the BLM and rescue ranches put her through. You're both wonderful people for helping her and I'm sure she loves you and has a special bond with you at your ranch. Sending my best wishes for a healthy recovery and many years of companionship with you.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

LOVED this post and your sharing Chloe's amazing story! She's like Cinderella and you are the Fairy Godmother!

My tears were streaming while watching your videos, especially the one with the music and seeing Chloe run like and buck like a wiiiiild mustang!

Sending positive thoughts and prayers for your beautiful girl.


carr50 said...

Chloe is amazing! What a wonderful story and my hope is she has a long and happy life with you. I remember the 3 Strikes horses at Colorado Horse Rescue shortly after they were brought in. Even after all they had been through, they still had such kind eyes, wary, but kind. And Sue, you are my hero. God bless you for all that you do.

LLMartin said...

Hi, I just caught the story of your mare on the Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses page on Facebook. I recognized the influance of Corona and Cheyenne right away before I even read your amazing story of this sweet girl. I am painting the Sand Wash Basin horses for the Mustang A Day Challenge. Would you allow me to paint from one of your photos. Here is the blog: I usually do a breif story and then reference back to a page such as your blog for the full story. A portion of the porceeds from any sales goes to the SWB Horses or another charity named by the photographer. Blessings and I hope the mare thrives and is well soon. ~Linda

Robin Taylor Long said...

Hi, Sue-Bee-Doo! Of course, as Chloe's trainer/auntie, I have to put in my two cents! You have seen her reduce me to tears waaaaaaaaay too many times for me to hide how I feel about her...but I wanted to tell her fans that Chloe is the bravest horse I have ever encountered in almost 40 years of training. She has an unbelievable heart...I don't know how such a big heart fits in such a little horse! Sometimes I will be working with her, and present her with something new, and she will be trembling with trepidation, but will stand for me anyway...she just has the most amazing amount of try...she humbles me regularly. I think I have learned as much from her as she has learned from me, and I am honored to be in her life! (and yours, of course!) :)

Karen McLain said...

What a powerful story! So many horses seem to pass through incredible struggles before finding their forever home. I have a PMU like that. I am always amazed at how much horses teach me-living in the moment, that is certain.

Breathe said...

What an incredible story, and thank you for being her angel. That she would never give up, after so many bad turns, it really is inspiring.

Thank you for sharing this story.

Aryan Smith said...

This is biggest lesson of living!
Sheds Broward