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Moving to find some shade in the trees

Moving to find some shade in the trees

Well the temperatures have certainly soared this last little while and as I write this it is 33C outside. The Alberta Mountain Horses (wild) do feel the heat and seek many avenues in order to escape it and the constant nuisance of the swarming insects.  One method some of the horses use is to find a muddy body of water and they then roll and splash in it to give themselves a protective coat of mud.

Ahh, that feels better!

Ahh, that feels better!

Another unique behaviour of the horses this time of year is that several herds gather together in close proximity. This is usually in the areas that over the years they have found offer them the most effective relief. This year we have counted one group of over 70 horses and the other of 50. The interaction between the stallions and the herds is fairly friendly with only minor conflicts between the herd stallions.

Testing the waters

Testing the waters

Included in the gatherings are usually a number of young bachelor studs. Usually they hang out together but on occasion an up and coming stallion will try his hand at taking on a mature herd stallion. Here a young boy who just finished his refreshing mud bath, is challenging another. Almost all these altercations are just show and bluff with no injuries being sustained.

Sanctuary in the trees

Sanctuary in the trees

Do you wonder where all the horses are? In the recent heat wave and in fact every summer, the horses will retreat into the timber for the obvious reasons. The areas they choose are usually more open which offers clear site lines, the ability of the breezes to blow through, and yet plenty of shade. Here they will stand head to tail for most of the day expanding very little energy in the heat.

Moving out at dusk

Moving out at dusk

If the winds are up the horses will find very exposed areas like hilltops and roadways where the insects tend not to be as bad.

Protective boy

Protective boy

This mature stallion has taken advantage of a mud bath and now the open meadow to stand close to his mare and foal.

Staying close to mom

Staying close to mom

The heat and the bugs can be extremely hard of the young ones who do not yet have the long tails to swish away the bugs. They then crowd around mom to seek relief.

Relief from the rain

Relief from the rain

In this area we have been fortunate to have a fair number of thunder and rain storms roll through the foothills. This mare with unique facial markings enjoys the cooling effect of the rain. These storms have also kept the grass green and lush through the Alberta Mountain Horse range.

Majestic and rugged

Majestic and rugged

In a remote valley we found this stunning stallion all alone with no there horses that we could see within miles of him. He so typifies the rugged beauty and uniqueness of our horses. He was so unafraid and sure of himself that we could get close-up pictures.

So if you are out in the forest looking for horses, it is best in the early morning or at dusk to find them. Soon though when the weather starts to cool again, they will tend to spread out and become a little bit easier to find in your travels.

Invitation to WHOAS rescue site volunteers

On Sunday, September 20, WHOAS is hosting a volunteer appreciation event. It will be held at our facility from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. So for all of you who came out to help the horses that we rescued, we welcome you to attend. Please send an email to WHOASalberta@gmail.com to let us know if you can come. That way we can plan enough food for all.

Bob

 

Our little foal "April"

Our little foal “April”

The last couple of weeks has brought on the heat along with those pesky horseflies.  The wild horses are spending their time either out in the open on hilltops where the wind helps keep the bugs at bay or they hang out in the heavy timber using the shade and tree branches to give them some peace from this annual onslaught.  As we travel the back roads we are finding that there are a number of foals on the ground, with some herds having 2-3 per band, but some that had foals earlier have lost them. Predators seems to be the biggest culprits in some areas.  Where the horses are sticking to the bigger clear cuts the survival rate of the foals is higher than those that range in the other areas.

Wow four sleeping wild babies

Wow! Four sleeping wild babies

In 2001 a small group of concerned individuals decided to stand up for the wild horses after so many atrocities kept occurring to them year after year. With very few seemingly caring about it, WHOAS was incorporated as a non-profit society.  Since then we have continued to be a voice for these beautiful animals.  Even in 2012 when over 218 horses were culled, WHOAS tried our best to voice our strong objection to this and similar culls.  That year we managed to rescue 9 young horses, gentled them and adopted them out to forever homes.  We have and will continue to use public education and awareness to make people aware of these wonderful living symbols of our western heritage and history.  I continue to go into schools and attend meetings of 4H groups, Junior Forest Rangers and other interested environmental and equine groups to spread the word about preserving the wild horses here in our Alberta foothills.

Wonderful wildies

Wonderful Alberta Mountain Horses

As noted in previous posts, this past fall we built a handling facility where we could bring the horses we rescue and they could be handled and gentled safely and humanely.  We now have had a portable classroom donated to us and set up at the facility.  Here we will be bringing school classes and other groups to introduce them to these magnificent animals and the role they have played and continue to play in our Alberta.  We are also working on preliminary plans to use the site and the wild horses as a therapeutic resource for first line responders.  This is in it’s very early stages, but we do hope to move forward with it to help those that protect and serve us. As a famous quote says, “Nothing so touches the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.”

So proud

So proud

As a result of our continuing work along these lines, we have now received our Charitable Status from Revenue Canada. Now with being a registered charity we will be able to expand our work and efforts to maintain our handling facility, our contraception program and offer our education programs. We are now able to issue tax receipts for donations from those who believe in what we are doing for the horses. Because of the delay in receiving our charitable status, we have had to cancel the Wild Horse Jamboree we had planned for the summer as a fundraiser.

Escaping the bugs

Escaping the bugs

It is unfortunate that some individuals and/or groups continue to portray WHOAS as the enemy to the welfare of the wild horses, despite our years of fighting for them. On June 16th the Stakeholder’s Committee held a meeting to discuss strategies for managing the wild horses. WHOAS was able to present what we have done and what we will continue to do moving forward. There are those on the committee and outside of it who still believe that the number of wild horses has to be dramatically decreased and even eradicated from the landscape. It is reassuring that due to the MOU’s that in the areas designated to us that the horses in these areas will be left alone.

Regal beauty

Regal beauty

Since removal of the horses through culling is not off the table at the Stakeholder’s meeting, despite our insistence that it is not a good management tool, it is apparent to those in the scientific community and to WHOAS that our contraception program has to be expanded. Our team is working with a population biologist to determine how many mares would have to be vaccinated just to stabilize the population as it sits at today’s numbers. There is some misinformation about the vaccine used. You can be confident that our team is using the zona-stat-H vaccine produced from the Science and Conservation Centre in Montana. Other PZP vaccines have been produced elsewhere which are not a pure format and are not supported by the scientific community. Again this product is used successfully in zoos throughout the world and in several other jurisdictions throughout North America and Europe to help control wild horse populations. All protocols as outlined for proper use are followed by trained personnel working on our teams.

Another concern WHOAS addressed at the Stakeholders’ meeting was the running down and roping of the horses during the cull. We have always indicated that this a very inhumane way and a danger to the horses as well as to the mounts of the license holders. We are working hard to have this method abolished.

Cowbirds and horses

Cowbirds and horses

The other item proposed in the past and again at this recent meeting, was that our wild horses need to be given a distinct designation to offer them better protection. The term “heritage horse” has been used, but this has been met with extremely strong opposition and this would not be accepted. Therefore, WHOAS presented that the horses be given a distinct designation of being called the Alberta Mountain Horse. This would allow the horses to be out of the Stray Animal Act and subsequently, more well-defined regulations could be put into place. There was positive feedback to this idea from several member groups. This probably will not take place until the current horse capture regulations expire in 2017.

Bob

 

 

This is a poem from Peggy Garrett who along with other members of her family adopted three of the Alberta Mountain Horses from our facility.  We thought we would share it with those of you who appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of these wonderful horses. Click on the link below which will open in a new window.

A Tribute to the Wildies

Bob

 

The little filly "April"

The little filly “April”

We wish to take this time to thank all of the wonderful people who came forward wanting to adopt one of our rescued Alberta Mountain Horses (wildies).  WHOAS rescued the 28 beautiful horses from the capture in February along with 3 others that were with us before that event.  As of today all of them have been adopted by individuals who wish to experience the fantastic opportunity of appreciating and working with one of these magnificent animals.  Thank you to you all and may the horse or horses you adopted become a part of your life as they have to us.

Bob

 

Oh it feels so good to finally stretch out

Oh it feels so good to finally stretch out

Finally “Queenie” our older rescued mare, delivered her foal this morning. The family that is going to adopt her with her foal, named the baby “River” if it was a colt. So “River” it is.

Proud Mom and babe

Proud Mom and babe

Both “Queenie” and “River” are doing well. He is a very strong and energetic one day old baby.

Trying out my new legs

Trying out my new legs

It was a nice sunny day and all the young ones and the mares were soaking up the warmth. As it sits now we have two wildie foals and and two rescued mares with foals. This makes it such a joy to be at the site and being blessed to be able to watch the antics of these new babies.

Safe and secure in their shelter

Safe and secure in their shelter

Bob

 

Blondie's baby

Blondie’s baby

For all our volunteers and visitors you will be happy to see that today Blondie has finally produced her foal, a little colt. We know that many wondered if she was ever going to foal especially given the size of her.

The newborn just a few hours old

The newborn just a few hours old

We would like to introduce you to the little colt we’ve named “Stryker”, strikingly beautiful!

Testing my legs

Testing my legs

Like any new foal it was extremely wobbly when it first started to move and we held our breath many times when we thought he might fall over one of the logs.

Now I got it!

Now I got it!

Bonding with a very hungry mom

Bonding with a very hungry mom

Life is very tiring

Life is very tiring

It won’t be long before he will be able to race around like his cousin, “April,” who is growing stronger every day.

Striking a pose

Striking a pose

We got great enjoyment out of watching little “April” put on a show as she raced around the waterer over and over again.

Yahoo - on the fly!

Yahoo – on the fly!

Our other little “Angel” who was born to “Princess” is also getting stronger each day and has become quite a character. Often times she investigates the three young boys in the next pen. She also comes right up to us humans to see what we are doing in her pen. The beautiful “Princess” allows us to have close contact with her and her baby as long as there is feed involved!

I like to run too!

I like to run too!

During the day we open their pen and allow them to wander down the alleyway to visit all the other horses. “Angel” takes this opportunity to race about as fast as she can. Mom just doesn’t care as she just does her own thing.

There are two more mares we expect to foal soon. We believe “Queenie” one of our rescued mares should foal imminently. The other wildie mare, “Belle” well, we just don’t know.

Springtime and babies . . . just a joy!

Bob

 

WHOAS new baby

WHOAS new baby

Thursday evening we were resting comfortably after spending another full day at our facility working with the wildies when a phone call came in from our veterinarian, Bruce. He informed us that he had to assist our one pregnant mare, Princess, in delivering her foal. He just happened to be at the site in regards to another matter, and checked on the horses before he was going to leave. This is when he noticed that Princess was in some distress trying to give birth. One of the legs of the foal was further out than the other one and as it turned out the foal’s one shoulder was locked inside the mare. Using his expertise he was able to enter the pen and pull the foal. Princess’s natural instincts then took over as she began to clean her foal.

Very wobbly legs

Very wobbly legs

Upon hearing this we headed to the site to check on everyone’s welfare. The little foal was standing and trying its best to move about on its little wobbly legs.

Getting my balance

Getting my balance

We then worried about whether the foal would be able to nurse. We were thrilled when we heard the loud slurping sound coming from the little one. When we put the flashlight on it, we chuckled as it was sucking at mom’s leg. However, in a short period of time, the foal found the right spot and got her very important first drink.

Exercise

Exercise

With little sleep we were out first thing in the morning and found our little filly extremely healthy and her mom was looking very good as well.

The little filly

The little filly

Mom and babe

Mom and babe

In the adjacent pen, we have our three young colts who are very interested in their new “cousin.” Princess however did not like their attention to her little girl.

Warming in the sunshine

Warming in the sunshine

Feeding time

Feeding time

Prior to last night we had spent considerable time working with Princess to gentle her to the human touch. This obviously paid off as she allowed Bruce to help her. Also that when we enter the pen she is calm and not stressed by our presence.

Investigating the pooper scooper!

Investigating the pooper scooper!

As the day wore on the little filly slept, ate, pooped and gained strength.

Urging mom to get up for more milk

Urging mom to get up for more milk

By the end of the day when we left our little “Angel” was running around the pen and tormenting the boys next door!

It is truly amazing that Bruce happened to be there at that particular time and moment when Princess needed help. Nothing happens in this world without a reason.

Truly adorable

Truly adorable

Now we wait with much anticipation for the arrival of Queenie’s baby which should be very soon. We have also been working with her to assure that everything, no matter what, goes smoothly.

Bob

 

 

Growing stronger every day

Growing stronger every day

The little filly, “April” is doing extremely well as she grows and learns to explore this new world she is in.

Darn bugs

Darn bugs

With the warm temperatures the flies and such are out and our little girl looks annoyed as they bother her.

Mountain climbing

Mountain climbing

At our WHOAS site we have a pile of gravel which caught the little girl’s attention and being a youngster she had to explore it.

Can you ever see a lot from way up here

Can you ever see a lot from way up here

“April” looked so proud of herself as she looked down on the rest of the herd and her mom “Babe”.

Tuckered out

Tuckered out

After all that exploring and mountain climbing she finally was tired and laid down beside mom to get some rest, before she was off again.  She moves so freely across the terrain and mom has to continually try to keep up with her.

Working with and around all these wild horses, including the ones we have rescued, is so rewarding and a heartwarming experience.  All of the volunteers who continue to come out to help have all fallen in love with the wildies and continue to spread their stories of how rewarding it is to see the progress of each and everyone of these beautiful horses.

Bob

 

The 3 amigos

The 3 amigos

Things are getting a little quieter at the WHOAS Mountain Horse Facility, as more of our rescued horses have moved on to their new homes. We still have the two pregnant mares who are getting closer to foaling, but have been adopted. As well we have four colts that are waiting for their journey to their new forever homes, and six horses available for adoption. Two of our youngest ones were to go to a new home, but due to an illness to their adoptive home, they are available again.

Pictured above are the two of them along with their friend, “Ted” who cannot wait their turn to go for water. Instead they have learned to drink out of the end of the hose which is just hilarious to watch.

"Ted" enjoying refreshments

“Ted” enjoying refreshments

Even though we are still waiting for our rescued mares to foal, we had a great surprise awaiting us on Monday as one of the resident wild mares presented us with a little filly.

New life

New life

“Babe” is the new mother of “April.” She is a wonderful and protective mother.

Stretching my new legs

Stretching my new legs

On the move with my Mom

On the move with my Mom

What's this green stuff?

What’s this green stuff?

How wonderful they truly are!

How wonderful they truly are!

We will keep you posted on “April’s” progress and any other new additions that are shortly to come.

Bob

 

 

I have provided an update on our wild horse rescues below, but I am also excited to provide a link to a Youtube video that was produced for us by a group of people who love the wild horses as much as we do and also WHOAS’s  work to help them.

WHOAS Youtube Video

 

Our Romeo

Our Romeo

This past Saturday, WHOAS, was again fortunate enough to have a team of veterinarians out to our site to finish the gelding process for the rest of our young boys.  Everything went extremely smooth and the last five boys that were to be gelded came through their operation in great shape.  The only youngster not gelded yet is little Romeo who we want to get in better shape and put on more weight before he is done.  We believe this little boy lost his mom last winter and yet survived through the rest of the year, ending up captured this February.  He showed signs of not having gained enough proper nutrition in order to fill out his body when we rescued him.  He is responding so very well now, putting on weight and is so cute as he follows you around the pen as it is cleaned just to see what these humans are up to.   We know that our little ugly duckling will turn out to be a beautiful horse.

Awaiting his turn

Awaiting his turn

Each young boy is led into our chute first where he can be safely sedated by the vets.

The operation

The operation

Once sedated the patient is led down to the pen where he will be operated on and then allowed to recover.  The whole time they are kept under observation by a WHOAS volunteer and regularly checked by the veterinarian.

Back on his feet.

Back on his feet.

Here is young Aries who has gained his feet, but still is a a little wobbly.  Each of the boys who is gelded also have their wolf teeth removed are given their 4 way vaccine and dewormed.  The gentling process that all of our horses go through plays an important role in allowing all of this to happen without incident.  Before the horse gets to this point though, no matter their age, they can be led throughout the pens and into their stalls in the barn.  This also keeps them calm and secure as everything is happening to them.  Our volunteers have done a wonderful job in assuring that the horses are taken care of.

Patches being led back to his pen after watering

Patches being led back to his pen after watering

Here is a young student, visiting from England, who joined in to help out with the daily chores, including leading the horses to water and then back to their pens for breakfast.

LOaded and ready to go home

Loaded and ready to go home

With our gentling process and getting all of the horses in our care taught to being led and put into stalls at night, has greatly helped when it comes time to load them into a trailer to travel to their new home.  From the smallest to the biggest all have loaded extremely well and with absolutely minimal fuss.  As of today we are still awaiting the arrival of their new owners and 4 that are still up for adoption.

Louie going for water

Louie going for water

Here the beautiful 5 year old Louie is led to water.  He is our most talkative boy and is always whineying out to the other horses or the resident herd when they come to visit our site.

Back to his pen for breakfast

Back to his pen for breakfast

Of the four horses we have left up for adoption we have a 3 year old, “Curly” whom we thought had a new home, but his perspective new owner has not gotten back to us at all and so we will put him back on our list of horses for adoption.  He is a beautiful young boy, very attentive and intelligent in how he perceives everything going on around him.

Gorgeous "Curly"

Gorgeous “Curly”

Then we have the 2 year old “Sheva” who is quite spirited and is responding well as we get to spend more time with her.

Wonderful "Sheva"

Wonderful “Sheva”

The we have “Penny” a yearling filly who has yet to have someone pick her as an adoption.  She is a fantastic young girl, curious and again gorgeous.

Our "Penny"

Our “Penny”

Of course there is also “Romeo” who is pictured above.

Queenie

Queenie

Princess

Princess

Along with these wildies we still have our two pregnant mares who are getting close to term for their foaling.  We now have them in separate pens in order to give them sufficient room to become a mom.  “Queenie” the 5 year old mare is still very shy of us, but that is okay as we do not want to cause her any stress.  “Princess” the younger mare is doing well, but is becoming very uncomfortable as her foal moves into position within her.

 The wild herd mares, Star and Bell

The wild herd mares, Bell and Babe

Mystery

Mystery

Blondy

Blonde

Portero

Portero

Then we have our resident herd, where three of the wildies are pregnant and should also be foaling soon.  They will be doing it out in the woods, but we will keep track of everyone to assure that all is okay.  The one mare who is not pregnant, “Mystery”, is amazing to watch.  When one of the other mares shows signs of discomfort or such, she will go over to them, whinny softly and then nudge their tummy.  Aren’t these wild horses wonderful!!!!!

Bob