The story of a wild horse orphan—May, 2015
She was the oldest and the bravest, a black foal with an irregular jigsaw blaze. We named her Allegro.
It was April, 2014 when I first saw Allegro with three other orphan foals. The unspeakable had happened.
Their parents and all the adult wild horses in their little herd had been rounded up, taken to the Worland, Wyoming auction yard, and sold for $40 apiece to a kill buyer representing a Canadian slaughterhouse. (2014 stories here & here)
|But the co-manager of the auction yard refused to let the kill buyer load the small foals onto the truck, and they were left behind. Our friend Kim Michels arranged for us to purchase them and Ann Evans and I drove to Worland to bring them back to Colorado. We named the foals the Dry Creek Quartet for the area near Greybull where they once roamed free. Our youngest, Piccolo, was only a few days old. Our oldest, Allegro, was perhaps a month old.|
Ann and I first saw the Quartet huddled in an outdoor pen at the auction yard. A quiet cowboy encouraged the foals into an alleyway toward the open door of my trailer.
|It was Allegro who first sniffed the door opening and then led her three friends inside. Seven hours later Ann and I arrived in Berthoud, Colorado, at the home of our vet, Dr. Lisa Jacobson. Allegro led her brother Maestro, the bay filly, Coronet, and tiny Piccolo from the trailer into the concrete alleyway of Lisa’s barn. How strange this must have seemed for foals who had only known dirt beneath their tiny hooves.|
It was dark outside but the barn was lit up and their warm stall was waiting. Deep, fresh shavings covered the floor. Allegro led them into the stall. They sniffed the containers hanging on the walls and tasted the liquid in the buckets, a replacement for their mother’s warm milk.
|A woman came into the pen with them and they shrank back, but there was something about her; something reassuring. I could almost read Allegro’s mind. Stand your ground and trust. Piccolo stood glued to Allegro’s side, feeling her quiet strength. Wide-eyed fear turned into exhausted resignation. In almost no time at all, the four came to, not just tolerate, but adore their Dr. Lisa.|
Now a year later, Allegro is in the same concrete alleyway. Ann and I are brushing away the crusty mud on her coat and scraping the mud off her perfect hooves. Monsoon rains in May have turned Lisa’s ranch into a quagmire. Allegro’s friend, Linda, holds her lead rope as Ann puts Cowboy Magic in her long mane, and what a mane it is! Allegro’s friends, Heather and Maggie come to see her and remark at how beautiful she is looking.
|Lisa, Maggie and Heather have been telling Allegro about her next adventure in life. . . but, somehow I think she already knew. A woman named Charlotte had come to see her and she and Dr. Lisa talked a lot. Allegro seemed to know that Charlotte was more than just a casual visitor. Charlotte told Dr. Lisa she needed a good companion for her older mare, Ginger—the mare Ginger, not the human Ginger. (Maggie/Allegro left)|
|As we finish grooming Allegro, Dr. Lisa drives into the barn area with her trailer. She takes Allegro’s lead rope and asks the filly to come with her into the trailer to meet Charlotte’s mare, a 20 year-old, former barrel racer. (Lisa/Allegro-right)|
|The tall sorrel mare with a blaze stares down at the diminutive filly, but Allegro is no shrinking violet and she follows Dr. Lisa into the trailer and sniffs Ginger’s nose. More sniffing follows a short squeal, and Lisa eases her way out of the trailer and closes the back door. Within minutes we are all on the road to Allegro’s new home.
I had imagined that the three remaining Quartet members would call for her, but this is not the case.
I think that Allegro had in some way already communicated what was going to happen. It is all peace and tranquility as the trailer drives away.
Allegro eyes her trailermate a little cautiously and looks out at the passing countryside. In only 15 minutes, Dr. Lisa is backing into a small pasture lined with tall trees next to a big house. Lisa opens the trailer door and Allegro looks out. Then she calmly walks into a new life.
Lisa lets Allegro’s older companion out of the trailer, and together, Ginger and Allegro walk to the end of the pasture where a tankful of cool water and a tub of fresh hay await. Allegro looks around, sees the little barn, and the neighbor’s dogs and of course, Charlotte, who is grinning from ear to ear.
It is a few minutes before Ginger allows the filly to join her in eating from the tub. And then a few minutes after that, Allegro lays her ears back. I like you, she seems to say to Ginger, but be aware that I am not afraid and I meet you as an equal in your world.
Then, when her human friends, Linda, Heather, Ann, Dr. Lisa, and I start to leave, Allegro begins to express just how happy she is to be home.
While Ginger continues to quietly munch hay, Allegro begins racing around her pasture, her mane and tail flying. At that moment I imagine the filly as she might have been, a mustang wild and free. Although that life has been lost to her, I sense she has not forgotten where she came from. Allegro will always hold the memory of her brief, wild life in her heart.
|Charlotte walks with us to the trailer as it begins to sprinkle while Allegro continues to sprint and twirl, slide to a stop only to break into another joyous run. As we drive away, it is Charlotte who stays. And it is Charlotte who will be there every day. I wonder if her grandchildren will come after school to meet the filly?|
Allegro’s new life is just beginning. Even the coming rain cannot dampen the spirit of the brave, once-wild filly. As I drive away I can see her running in my rear view mirror.
Ginger (Charlotte & Allegro)
|P.S. I would like to thank the many people who contribute to the Cloud Foundation and allow us to protect our horses in the wild, but also allow us to step in and do what we can to turn tragedy into joy.|
A thank you beyond words goes to the remarkable Dr. Lisa Jacobson, whose lifelong love for horses and all animals knows no boundaries.
A special thanks also goes to the Wyoming Good Samaritan who stepped forward and first alerted us to this roundup and the plight of these special wild horses.
Maestro, Coronet and Piccolo are still available for adoption. We do have some other interested people who have inquired about these yearlings. If you are interested in adopting, you can read the terms of adoption and the contract here.