• The above photo is of Carson, the day he was born, and one of the mares from his herd. He was struggling to find any of them that he could bond and nurse from.
  • Fertility study horses are wild horses (aka mustangs, estrays, Comstock) gathered from the Virginia range in Nevada and were used by the vet school in Nevada/Reno through the Dept of Ag to study various pregnancy prevention products looking for a use to help control wild horses. The grant money ran out, and through a series of events the horses ended up at our ranch - 33 of them. From this group there were 2 aborted foals, 1 stillborn colt, 1 filly (aka Hope) died after 1 week, 2 more fillies that are healthy, and Carson. The stallions have been gelded and are at various locations in Nevada. This is Carson's story...

Carson’s Journey

April 24, 2009

Because of the high levels of both injected and IV flushed antibiotics he is now developing stomach problems.  We do have him on probiotics paste, he’s drinking his foal formula as well.  After our vet visit today to check his white cell levels we will see where things go from this point.

April 26, 2009

Lying next to him as he is finally napping comfortably I feel so fortunate that I have been blessed with this experience, as fearful as it is.  Such a tiny being to have to struggle to survive.  He has spurts of positive times where we believe we are cresting that hill, and then is exhausted.  Despite the double whammy of infections & lack of antibodies to fight it we see the willingness to live – and the wild spirit that prevails.

April 28, 2009

Carson is on his way to the vet.  He has developed some minor complications due to the high amounts of antibiotics.  The vet is going to see if he can resolve that issue and draw blood to check levels.  If his white count is high enough we will be taking the IV catheter out of his neck and hopefully quit the twice a day injections in his tiny butt that has gotten so sore.

A bed is now moved in to the tack room for our convenience =)  He pulls his blanket off the pile (along with anything else his little mouth comes in contact with) and lies down on it.  Slightly spoiled, more energy, and thanking God each day we have with him.

Went to check his 2 sisters this morning, and the pregnant mare that’s due anytime.  Carson is taller than either of them already – standing at 9 hands at a week old!  His Spirit is strong. 

April 29, 2009

Carson has now been nicknamed “The Miracle Boy” by the vet’s office.  His blood work has come back and the white count is within normal range but they want to keep him on the IV, IV antibiotic push, and twice daily antibiotic shots for 2 more days just to be completely sure.

His little penis had inverted (go figure!) and that was the problem we were concerned about.  After a few minutes the vet was able to turn it back around and with great pleasure Carson dropped it out & peed.   The vet said in all his years of working with horses he had never seen this before. 

He is also cleared for more exercise so will get to play outdoors on clear days.  All his “stuff” will come off on Thursday and we expect him to be hard to control after that.

May 2, 2009

Major prayers — it just keeps going…  Late night before last/early yesterday morning Carson started showing signs of being lethargic.  In the morning when I took over I could here the “rattle” in his lungs.  His temp was high (101.9) so I called the vet.  We waited almost all day for him to call back. After I called a 1/2 dozen times we decided to just load him up and haul him in so he could be seen by whoever was in.  Barry, Carson’s doctor, was on farm calls.  By the time we got to the vet Barry was back.  He immediately took a look/listen and could see that Carson was going in to distress.  After xrays it was confirmed that he has major pneumonia.  I’m doing my best to stay positive and cry when I’m alone.  This poor little guy.  Had we postponed it one day he would have died tonight.

 So, he’s got another stint in his neck and back on IV’s/shots/round the clock care with little exercise.  What a fighter, though.  He paraded around the parking lot and went over to greet anyone walking by.  I have no doubt he is going to make it.  He’s God’s precious gift. 

 Looks like it’s going to be ongoing medical attention for a while.  We could still use help with the ever growing vet bills. 

 I’ve contacted the vet that did the research on these mares to see if what Carson is going through could be results from some of the tests/injections.  I don’t have information on each mare to know who got what product and if this mare was part of the control group or if her product failed.

 Once we get through all this we are definitely going to have to changing his name to “Spirit of the West.”  He is the epitome of that.

May 4, 2009


He’s made it through the weekend and the Spirit in his soul has returned.  It’s amazing how high he can rear and buck (playing) in a small space.  Still slight fever.  Teething badly and chewing on EVERYTHING!!!!  Has found that apples are a good thing and helps with the mouthing.  Will see what the vet says today.

Another mare foaled, but it was stillborn.  Hooves looked like 2 fingers.  These poor horses have gone through so much.  At least I know they won’t be used as experiments any more.

1 more mare to foal, as far as we can tell.  You never know when the sun comes up.

Thank you all for the support.  This is truly a learning process for all of us at the ranch. 

3 more days of antibiotics right now.  He’s still running a low grade temp, but his lungs are sounding much better and all plumbing is now working.

He is getting so restless.  He can now buck, jump, spin & kick in a small circle.  He’s at least respectful to space and has yet to kick at us – just plays.  I can’t wait until the weather warms again and he can head outside to work off some of the energy.  His appetite is increasing and he’s loving his Mare & Foal, fresh greens and apples.


Carson’s temp is back up again tonight.  It’s close to midnight and taking a break from shift.  Please keep him in prayers.  Vet bill exceeds $2500 total, but we have raised $1000 of it so far.  THANK YOU ALL….. He’s 2 weeks old today.  He’s a fighter. 

Sleeping for a couple hours (I hope) and will check his temp again when I take over.  He’s still on 3 shots of antibiotics a day.   Now if we can just get the temp to break!

May 5, 2009

There is nothing more sweet than a soft nicker of recognition.  That’s what I was greated with this morning.  Carson’s temp is still elevated so we’re waiting on a call back from the vet.  He has had so many different antibiotics that it’s hard to believe he would be running a temp.  We aren’t giving up.


Calvin sends his love and says GET WELL SOON!

May 6, 2009

Carson had a good night.  His temp seems to be stabilizing.  Last evening, due to tremendous cabin fever, he & I went for a walk.  He has now learned how to go up & down 4 stairs to get in & out of the tack room/his bedroom.

He ran & bucked and jumped, spinning in excitement.  I noticed that the big herd of mustangs were gone, most likely up in the hills eating the upper grasses so  I decided it was safe enough to go for a walk down the road that divides the pastures to see his sisters and meet his mom & aunts.  He trotted along behind me until we got to the area.  Most of the aunts came over to see him.  They are still very wild so any movement from me sent them backwards.  But, I stood quietly next to Carson and let them all come in to see him.  Then I noticed mom push her way through the group, sniffed him a bit and nickered.  My heart sank.  I want so much to let him rejoin the herd but he’s fought this hard to live we just can’t take the chance.  And, he’s into a routine that he couldn’t adjust now anyway.

We headed back in, mares, fillies, and mom following on the other side of the fence.  He wanted nothing to do with any of them.  He was more interested in playing and grazing.

He’s now 2 weeks old and I’m scared to say, but I think we may have made the top of the hill.  I checked him this morning and got that soft nicker when he saw me come in the room.  I just love him so much.

Hoping the weather will clear soon so that he can stay out longer with the horses that already know him and he trusts.  He will go back in on Friday for (hopefully final) blood work. 

May 7, 2009

Please, please let us know Carson is OK……………

Calvin died this morning. I am so upset. But now he is with his mom


Carson had a wonderful day.  We spent almost all of it outside in the sunshine.  He’s socializing more & more with the geriatric horses that watch over him.  There’s still an occasional buck if they sniff to close, but he did hang out with them for a while today eating his grain while they ate theirs.

His 45 minute naps, followed by hours of getting in to everything, are hardly enough rest for each of us.  But, when he looks at you with those eyes it’s hard to care much about sleep.  The fever has been down for 2 days now and he goes in tomorrow for a final blood draw.

All your prayers, financial support, and encouragement have been a blessing.  Without everyone this would have been almost impossible to stay up with.

As most of you know we have close to 80 horses we care for.  The daily routines of monitoring them, checking pregnant mares for foals, weaning and training youngsters, trying to get others started & under saddle so they can be adopted out, and just general routine is exhausting enough.  The additional sleep deprevation has been a challenge but so worth it.

One more mare to foal.  She’s very overdue and we are starting to grow very concerned about her well being.  These are all unhandled, wild horses off the Virginia Range.  They are strong and adaptive.  But, it’s also our responsibility to assure their care since they are now in our environment.

Carson has been blessed to have so many care for him, and we have been blessed to have him love us.

Carson sends hugs & nickers.

His temp is stable and he’s getting outside more & more.  He followed me in to the house this morning and instantly started taking things off the table and playing with the books.  He’s feeling much better.  He was very restless all night, but so were all the horses with the almost full moon.

Run free and know you were loved Calvin.

May 13, 2009

Carson - May 2009

Carson - May 2009

Carson is free & clear and has turned the corner to a wonderful, healthy life.  We try to let him hang out with most of the horses during the day, but most of the time he has his own agenda.  Although he is socializing much better, he has also learned to knock on the door when I’m in the house – seriously.  Life is all about Carson right now.  The 24/7 watch has turned in to a 24/7 keep him out of stuff time!!!

That being said, he wanted to share this with you 


May 18, 2009

Hugs back from Carson.  He’s becoming a little social butterfly.  He has found ways to slide through areas and get out with the herds, who fight over him.  He loves the attention and he & Brian (our little guy from last year) are best buds.  He trots around with the weanling geldings that have just been cut, playing, bucking and sharing hay.  My grandkids were here over the weekend and he thought that was the best thing ever to have little people his size around.  He is quite the character and deserves every bit of life you all have helped him have.

He is growing quickly, eating everything, and getting a “tude!”  One more month of bottle feeding….  He’s going down to the creek and acting like a big horse.  The other mustang mares fight to see who gets him for the time.  And, he takes off if I’m not paying attention.

He has decided that it’s ok to play with the dogs now and chases them, bucking and kicking – almost a tag, you’re it game.  But, don’t come around when the bottle is near.  He’s cow kicked the horses & dogs if they come around while he’s eating.  Little behaviors we are going to have to keep an eye on.  He started to kick at one of the dogs while drinking this morning & I tapped him on the butt with my finger.  He immediately stopped moving towards the dog and refocused on the bottle.  Brat!

He is in to EVERYTHING.  EVERYTHING has to be nibbled, moved, tested.  The working ranch dog was trying to eat & Carson kept bumping him to get him away from the dish & play.  What a personality.

Off to the vet for our final exam.

June 15 2009

I have to be sure and shut the tack room door when I’m not in there because he still goes in and helps himself to whatever there is.  Right now the futon is laid out for volunteers that have been coming in on weekends.  I’m sure that if he knows that he’ll be crawling up there.  If so, I’ll snap a picture.  He still thinks it’s his bedroom!

The latest thing is — we have our personal area fenced off from the drive and other parts of the property.  We let him come in to eat and hang out.  Most of the time he is wandering with the other horses but he’s found that if he wants to be with us he simply taps on the gate with his hoof (literally) and gets let in.

Yesterday, he started tapping the front door and trying to move the handle while we were inside the house.  OK– he’s still a little guy, only 10 weeks old — but it’s starting to get scary =) 

Most of the time I can throw his sleeping bag down under a tree and he’ll take a nap.  Today I had washed his “bedding” and put it on the porch swing to take it to the hay barn for him.  I was busy doing some other things and lost sight of him.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw him lying on one sleeping bag with the other pulled over his head.  He was sound asleep.

OK, so he’s slightly spoiled and is taking every advantage of it.  But, he fought hard to live and he’s our inspiration.  We still balance the socializing with the other horses, who adore him, and our time.  And thank God each day for every moment

June 30 2009

Carson is doing fantastic.  The every 4-5 hour feedings have become 3 meals a day.  He is spending more time eating grass hay and his mare & foal and less bottles of milk.  It has been so nice to sleep through the night again!

He’s become the social butterfly and spends time with the different herds.  He’s accepted by all of them and some of the mares will fight with each other to take him for a while.  He went up on the hill with his sisters the other day.  I watched at a distance, the one time I didn’t have my camera, and saw him jump up on his sister to play.  It was one of those special moments.  He has moved out of the tack room and sleeps in the hay barn at night, cuddled up on bedding.  I finally moved him out when I went in there and found him sleeping (literally) on the futon.  He backs up to it, sits down, and then just falls over on it.

He has become our garbage dog.  His favorite is paper and cardboard or the bedding bags.  I’ll go out in the morning and he has all that spread throughout the drive where he’d been playing for quite some time.  He loves to take cardboard and flip it in up and run with it.  He is becoming quite a character.  But, if something startles him or if the horses surround him and he’s uncomfortable he nickers and runs and hides behind me.

It’s been a little different with a bottle baby.  But, it’s also been a welcomed challenge to learn a different way of caring for our horses.  I’m never smart enough to think I know it all.  I love learning and they are definitely teachers.

Here’s a couple pictures of Carson with his sisters.  The BLM mare (who has joined up with the VR mares) is our resident nanny.  She LOVES Carson and protects him. She keeps the other mares away and takes good care of him when he’s visiting.  He gets to climb on her, chew her mane, sniff her, be a pest.  She puts up with a lot but does correct him if he gets to be too much.

Out of the 7 mares that arrived here pregnant, these are the survivors!  We ended up with 2 aborted foals, 1 stillborn, and one little filly that died a week after she was born.  This has been a tremendously hard year at the ranch so far.  But, these pictures make it all worth it.

Personal note — from this point on Carson has developed a great friendship with his BFF, Calvin, who passed away shortly after he & Carson were born.  Carson’s updates & progress can be viewed in his dialogue with Calvin.  I hope you enjoy these youngsters as they go through their days together.  See their chatter under “Carson and His Friends.”

2 Responses

  1. It’s been a while since Carson’s info has been updated. He is getting so BIG. He is still hanging out with grandma & grandpa, and plays most of the time with Brian. What he doesn’t understand is that THIS MOM doesn’t play like the horses and he jumped up on me, giving me a nice black eye. He is definitely gotten the Spring bug and is running and bucking a lot of the time. He and Brian seem to be mischief little guys that are always in to something. He’s now been banned to the pastures and out of the drive after tearing the seat off the 4 wheeler, and the antenna off the motorcycle. If it moves or can be pulled apart, he’s there.

  2. Photobucket My birthday is coming and mommy said we are going to have a party and Brian and grandma and grandpa and my cousins and aunties are all coming. I am so excited. I am going to be 1 year old. Mommy says I’m growing up real fast. I can run faster now too. Me and Brian run real fast and grandpa played with us the other day and he kicked his back legs up. I was scared he was going to fall down cuz he’s so old but he ran fast just like Brian and me. Grandma doesn’t like to play much. She gets grumpy sometimes. But that’s ok cuz she takes care of me and doesn’t let the other big horses bother me. But she gets so mad when Brian and I go to the stream to look for frogs and she can’t see me. She scolds me a lot lately. But that’s ok cuz she still loves me and I still get to go play.

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