World First? Wild Horse Treated, No Restraints

Even well trained domestic horses are restrained for medical treatment and maintenance procedures. Note that at no time during the period we treated the mare Nunki for sand gravel in her left fore hoof was she restrained.

The day after Nunki was found limping, Dr. Derrick Bailey, DVM, Frank Bell, a professional Horse Whisperer, Mr. Bill Gallo, helper and myself arrived on the scene. Shortly after we arrived she lay down, a cause of concern to all. She was given antibiotics, painkillers and a general check up. While Bell worked to keep her calm, Dr. Bailey was able to carry out his work.

For several days after I darted in the prescribed doses of penicillin. She allowed me to approach after each shot to retrieve the darts. Then, Frank Bell accompanied me to the farm to see her again. We succeeded, two days in a row, in giving our lame mare direct penicillin shots with an inch and a half needle with no restraint whatsoever. This apparently unprecedented event was recorded on video by cinematographer Chris Nielsen.

Nunki was approached where she was grazing, she was free to run at anytime. She was approached with care and respect. We loved her a lot, rubbed her and talked to her. She never even twitched when the needle went in. We treated a 1200 lb. wild horse with no restraints at all. for photos of the process, lifted from Nielsen's video click here, about a 20 second download time on a 28 modem.

She appears to be healing well and is in no way shy or afraid after the shots. It is tremendously gratifying to have been able to accomplish this. However, the fact that this may be an unprecedented event also points out that this is not the best way to care for the wild horses. Certainly the approach has been proved valid and effective. However, the length of time involved is not acceptable, that and the fact that the mare had to be left to run on sore legs when she should have been kept quiet in a guarded corral is also not acceptable.

The support of the Department of Agriculture allowed this precedent setting procedure to evolve and great pride should be taken in this event. It is one to be encouraged in future interventions whether on or off the farm.

We’ve been lucky. This could not likely be done with a stallion and in fact we have a stallion in great need of medical intervention but we cannot do it because we do not have an appropriate place. We currently (Feb. 2, 2002) have two other mares lame who are simply not as approachable. It should also be noted that the odds for survival of the horses decrease the longer they remain in a habitat that promotes the kind of problems that have to be treated in such a novel manner because at times this approach is inappropriate and inadequate. .


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