Santiago returns to his herd
The “will to live” of a wild horse is one of the most extraordinary qualities of the “wild.” We don’t always see this trait in domestic horses but it is in nearly every wild horse I have ever met. At all costs, wild horses will survive.
A very stunning 3-yr old grullo stallion named Santiago was captured in 2009 after sustaining an injury which he almost bled to death. He was captured and transported to our makeshift hospital outside of the barn where he was barely standing. His hemoglobin was 3.9 which is almost not compatible with life. Yet this young stallion spent every day surviving. He refused to eat any supplements which is normal for our wild ones. They must learn to eat especially “sweet foods” such as Senior feed. They absolutely hate anything sour such as Red Cell.
After the third week, we found Santiago down on the grown and to weak to get up. His outside pen allowed the tractor to come nearly on top of him while we rigged up two girths to place under him to pick him up. Santiago was so impressed with our ingenuity that after that, every night he was on the ground sleeping knowing the tractor would pick him up.
Since he was such a finicky eater, eating only grass or alfalfa, we knew his recovery progress would be slow. His grassy area was covered with a bed of shavings to prevent any pressure sores.
August and September rolled by as he gained his strength everyday! We worried about October as it was getting cold already and if it snowed he could not be on the ground. Plans were under way to move him to Arizona where he could continue his recovery. By now he was wearing a horse blanket at night.
One morning he was still standing. We questioned whether he laid down that night but the tell tale signs of shavings all over his coat told us that he was able to get up on his own. After a week of assurance that he would continue to get up, we moved him to the barn for the winter.
The next spring, we checked his hemoglobin which had risen to 9 which is still abnormal. He remained in all year between the barn and small pastures.
Now this brilliant Gila stallion was returned to his herd this past week. Our criteria for returning animals is very strict to preserve that only the strong survive. With only 31 wild horses coming to us in the Gila herd, we are careful to preserve their genetic diversity. Santiago had already learned herd behavior since he already was a three year old and he had an injury and not a disease or illness.
Santiago has paired up with another stallion who is one of our favorites named Kino. Kino will help Santiago to adjust to herd living again and will be a great mentor for this stallion.
We will observe Santiago over the summer to see how he fares in his “old” surroundings.
It is always rewarding to see the spirit of a great stallion dominate over life and death preferring life.
Santiago extis the trailer
Santiago takes off to join the rest of the Gila herd