Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bambi's Story

Looking at these two girls in this photo here, I feel an enormous sense of pride, not only for what they are, but for what they've become, despite the neglect they suffered at the hands of others.

It's hard to get a grasp on the latter unless you know their history. Here is Bambi's story.

I bred Bambi's mother and then traded her to a friend of mine who thought she'd be a good 4H horse for her daughter. As what happens with many of us, life got in the way, and she sold Bambi's pregnant momma to a lady that I knew in Missouri.

I was tempted at the time to warn her. After all, I knew this lady for often having problems with keeping her horses in good condition. Sometimes they would be fine, other times I was shocked at what I saw there. I always had hoped that each time she set things right, it would be for good. I wanted so badly to believe the best in people, but so many times have sadly been proven wrong. This was one of those times.

I said nothing, hoping that since it was Eddie's foal (my stallion who she claimed to like so much) that she would be especially careful to take responsiblity for the care of this mare and foal. I was so disappointed to find out otherwise.

When Bambi was born I was living in Kansas City, so I made the hour trek up north to see the mare and foal. I was saddened by what I found. The mare was skin and bones. Fortunately the foal seemed healthy, albiet it small, but I worried about them both, especially considering the condition of the mare, and the woman met me out front with them both--I could not see the other horses to see if this was a unique circumstance or not. I offered to buy them alfalfa, to get the mare back in better shape and help her growing foal, but was turned down. I was told she would put them on some better feed and all would be fine, so I left and hoped for the best.

A couple of months later, I was contacted by the woman asking if I knew of anyone who would want to buy the mare. She said she was still in poor condition. I contacted my friend whom I had gotten the mare from and she was (oh so thankfully) willing to help me save the mare, and maybe, in some way, we could manage to save the foal as well. I was told she wanted $600 for the foal, which neither of us had, but my friend agreed to take both the mare and foal and we'd either buy the foal or take her back. Maybe, in the meantime, we could come up with the money, but at least we could get them fed.

I had to make a choice that day, between moving my sister and saving Bambi's life. I chose the latter and while it wasn't fair to my sister, even though I showed up after hours of driving to help move her, but it's not a choice I regret making. Seeing Bambi now healthy, standing out in my pasture, makes it worth it. Who knows what might have happened to her had so many people not pulled together to save her.

That day I woke up early and went an hour south to retrieve my horse trailer (I was living in an apartment at the time) at a friend's house, but the lights would not work (it was so early it was still dark out and I could not go through Kansas City without trailer lights), so I had to phone the lady who had the horses and ask if I could use hers. I had no other choice. Thankfully she agreed, so I went an hour north of Kansas City and picked up the mare and foal. They were so thin and so weak that I immediately drove to TSC, bought a bucket and some beet pulp and sat in the parking lot for half an hour, letting it soak enough that I could give it to them. The mare ate it up but the foal was so lethargic, she would only lay there. I feared she might not even make the trip.

I drove everyone back to an hour south of Kansas City where I'd meet up with my friend at our mutual friend's place. I was grateful to see the filly still alive when we arrived. I got them out of the trailer and put them in a stall, thinking I probably wouldn't ever see this little filly again. She was so weak, so pitiful-looking, that I couldn't see how she could survive the five-hour trip to my friend's house and still go through rehabilitation. It's difficult for an adult horse, let alone a two-month old filly who had never had the nutrition she so desperately needed.

I took the trailer back an hour north of Kansas City and explained the situation and my friend's assessment to the lady. I was honest--that we didn't expect her to make it, but would keep her informed. I left and cried all the way back home. Although my sister was mad at me, I was glad she had found someone to help her move. I was exhausted.

When my friend got Bambi and her momma home, the next day, they took this picture of Bambi:

She had survived the trip. She called me and we discussed the situation. Should we put her down? Even if she did live through it, would she ever be able to thrive? She was the most "downed" 2-month old filly we had ever seen.

Just for comparison, when I had an orphaned filly, she looked like this at 2-months old (one on the right). It's hard to believe that Bambi had suffered more than even an orphaned filly had.

Bambi's momma was in such bad shape that she had stopped giving milk entirely:

It was really a sad situation. A nursing mare needs an enormous amount of feed just to maintain her condition, let alone recover and feed a recovering filly. I had a serious conversation with the lady that we got them from. This rehabilitation would take a lot of time and money and was still not guaranteed. It was plausable that the filly should perhaps be put down, as she had not had the nutrients she needed to grow properly. Would she ever be able to be a normal, healthy horse? Asking $600 for the filly was unreasonable--could a compromise be reached?

After some negotiation, I agreed to trade a stock-trailer full of delivered prairie hay, a saddle and saddle blanket for her. Our mutual friend south of Kansas City allowed me to buy the hay from her at a discounted rate, so when I say that many people helped save Bambi, I mean it was truly a community effort. Friends did everything they could to help.

When I delivered the hay, the lady brought out a little puppy and, having lost my beloved Layla only a week before to cancer, I couldn't bear to give the puppy back. She kissed my nose and that was that. I named her Sophie.

Little did I know how far ahead I would have ended up out of this terrible ordeal--to have both Bambi and Sophie in my life, now. It's proof that things do sometimes happen for a reason.... And after only a week or two of good feed, though, both mare and baby were looking better.

The filly was perking up and the mare's milk came back in. When I went to visit a month later, I couldn't believe the filly's progress!

This little filly, Bambi, who was smaller and weaker than a fawn when we picked her up, had blossomed into a strong, healthy, gorgeous filly.

Since I lived in an apartment, I did post her for sale shortly. I am so glad no one was interested in her. I got my place south of Kansas City and immediately took her off the market.

My dear friend who brought Bambi back to life, brought her to me and she has been with me ever since.

Then we came to Kansas, and she happens to look gorgeous here, too....

Looking at her now, it's hard to imagine that this brickhouse of a mare came out of such hardship.

And now, instead of crying tears over her situation, there are only tears of joy, of thankfullness, that such a wonderful filly is in my life.



Anonymous said...

Wonderful story with a good ending - and so many people helped and made it possible. Glad you were able to save her - she's a beauty!

Alan T Hainkel said...

Yes, Bambi is such a beautiful girl... :)

Anonymous said...

I love happy endings and you for making one and then sharing it with us all.

smazourek said...

I'm so sorry you and Bambi had to go through that, but it seems like her story is having a happy ending! She's stunning!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Bambi is a beautiful girl. I think it's wonderful that the whole community of horse lovers helped to save her from certain death. I'm so happy she is with you now. How can people treat horses like that by the way, it's so cruel to starve an animal and to turn down feed...

Annette said...

Bambi is sure the picture of health now. Just look at that shiny coat!!

Krazy Cindy said...

Bambi is so lovely, thanks for sharing her story.