Humans, horses mourn Salt River mare that died giving birthPosted: Updated:
Despite all efforts to help, one of the Salt River wild horses died while in labor, the Salt River Horse Management Group posted on its Facebook page Thursday. Her foal, which became stuck during delivery, died, as well.
Photographer Richard Simonsen was there when it happened Wednesday afternoon and captured not only the anguish of the humans who tried desperately to save the mare, a 2-year-old named Clydette, but also the stunning reaction of her band.
“Right after we moved away from her body, we witnessed how her band came and nuzzled her, after which the roan, her lead stallion, cried out for her very loudly,” SRWHMG posted. “Shortly after that, they moved away from her body but stayed close.”
Other bands heard the stallion's call and responded.
“What happened next was amazing; the other bands stood in line taking turns saying their goodbye's [sic],” according to the post. “First one band, then another. Then the two lead stallions of those two bands got into a short power struggle.”
SRWHMG shared a video shot about 30 minutes after Clydette died.
“It takes a most highly intelligent species to understand and actually mourn death,” the post read. “We have seen bands mourn their losses before, but for other bands to come and mourn her death also was simply awe inspiring [sic].”
Comprised of several family bands, the 80-140 Salt River horses that call the Tonto National Forest home are known all over the country, particularly after a 2015 proposal by the U.S. Forest Service to round them up and relocate them.
[SLIDESHOW: Salt River wild horses]
After a public outcry, the U.S. Forest Service backed off on that plan, allowing the horses to stay put.
Gov. Doug Ducey in May signed a bill protecting the Salt River horses, which he described as “beautiful, majestic and a treasure to our state.”
The herd's first baby of 2017, a colt, was named in Ducey's honor.
The horses made headlines again in October after a foal was shot, killed and mutilated. Two adult horses were wounded but recovered.
Volunteers monitored the heard while the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office scoured the scene of evidence.
“We are devastated. These horses are like family to us,” Simone Netherlands, the SRWHMG president said, shortly after the incident. “We’ve seen them grow up. We record when they’re born, and we see them out here every day so just to know that he suffered that bad is just really heartbreaking for us.”
APP USERS: Through the lens of Richard Simonsen
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