Heidi-Ho goes home

She came into this world during one of the coldest Nevada "sprinter" mornings imaginable. Feb. 14 was on the fringes of spring, but by the next morning, as temperatures dropped to an icy 4 degrees, it seemed that winter was still holding on to the day with its icicle fingers.

It was time for a mare, one of seven in a small mustang band known as the "The Stagecoach Seven" roaming the open lands near Stagecoach, east of Dayton, to give birth in the pre-dawn chill. Early rising residents saw the mare give birth and watched as the baby didn't get up and move when the herd was forced to move to safety away from barking dogs and early morning - human caused - commotion. The tiny foal was too hypothermic to stand on her own. It was instinctively clear to the stallion that the baby needed to be abandoned for the safety of the rest of the herd.

Anxious residents watched to see what would happen. Would the herd return for the foal? After several hours, it was apparent it would not. One of the residents, who had watched the whole event, decided to investigate and found the foal still alive and reported the event to Lyon County Animal Services.

Officer Nonie Higley responded to the call. As she approached the foal, the little filly raised her head and nickered but couldn't get up. Higley picked her up and, placing her in the vehicle for transport and took her to the animal shelter.

After futile attempts to revive the lethargic foal, Higley contacted the State Virginia Range estray horse manager, who in turn contacted Shirley Allen of Least Resistance Training Concepts to see if she could save the foal. Allen, having accepted similar challenges, responded immediately, taking the orphan to her "Shirley's House of Horses" in Dayton.

In situations like this, Allen routinely brings the foal right into the house for warmth. Quilts and towels were spread around her bedroom floor and, once in the house, some colostrum and warm milk replacement were given to the little one. Soon, the little foal started to revive. It wasn't long before the "little trooper" was successfully standing and wobbling around. She uttered little chortling whinnies like she was yodeling and the appropriate name, Heidi-ho, was given to her.

Within 24 hours, Heidi received national attention. People from as far away as Pennsylvania were calling to inquire about adopting her, but Allen was going to keep her for at least four months until just the right home came along. Allen only keeps rescued horses until appropriate adoptive situations are obtained.

An article by Karen Woodmansee appearing in the Nevada Appeal on Feb. 18, peaked the interest of Topaz Ranch Estates resident Ginger Sagran and her husband Dick.

"Dick had always bugged me about adopting a wild horse," Ginger Sagran said. "Heidi-ho seemed to be the perfect choice."

Sagran, once the horse manager for Kids & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center in Minden, called Allen in response to the adoption of Heidi.

"Shirley told me she knew after just a few minutes of talking to me that I would be a good adoptive parent for Heidi," Sagran said. "But I had a lot of hoops to jump through before the deal was done. I went to see Heidi for the first time Feb. 21," she said.

Heidi was a resident of the Allen bedroom and was still bottle-fed the first time Sagran saw her. At six days old, the filly had been allowed outdoors only under the constant supervision of Allen.

Sagran was allowed to bottle-feed her and have some bonding time. On Feb. 28, the Sagrans returned to continue working with Heidi under the guidance of Allen. This time Heidi was allowed to wander the back acreage with Sagran, so attached to her human caretakers, no halter was needed. Wherever her human surrogate parents would go, she would follow, never straying far from them.

Sagran said Allen made sure everything was perfect before she would let her bring home Heidi.

"I jumped through more hoops than if it had been a human baby I wanted to adopt," Sagran said. "Heidi was special."

"I had to take pictures of housing. Shirley was concerned about the baby having nothing but dirt in the pen I was going to put her in so I went out and bought rubber stall mats to place in her shelter, her pen is lined with 'no-climb' fencing, I did everything I could until Shirley felt it was safe to bring her home."

On April 2, Heidi was delivered to her new home and parents. She arrived in a huge stock trailer with Allen riding beside her. When the back door of the stock trailer opened, diminutive Heidi appeared to give her first mother kisses good-bye, then hopped out and began exploring her new world with what seemed to be the curiosity of a toddler, checking out every nook and cranny of her new environment, but never straying far.

Without benefit of lead line or human touch, Heidi followed Allen and Sagran to her new quarters, next door to "Aunt Penny" an older mare Sagran is hoping will bond with Heidi and teach her how to be a horse.

"Having nothing other than Penny next to her, hopefully will give her a horse connection." Sagran said.

The first couple of nights were sleepless for Sagran. She slept in the back of her truck for a couple of nights, right next to Heidi's pen just to make sure she was adjusting to her new environment.

"Not a problem," Sagran said.

Her first hours, clinging to life, were uncertain, but now she seems to be in good hands.

Visit Web site www.whmentors.org to learn about Shirley Allen and her Least Resistance Training Concepts, and to learn about Heidi's progress.


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