Family saves baby wild horse, forms 'amazing' bond

Jazz, a wild horse adopted by a family after a Bureau of Land Management roundup. Courtesy BLM
Jazz, a wild horse adopted by a family after a Bureau of Land Management roundup.

On Oct. 5, 2011, a little foal who became known as Jazz was born at the BLM holding facility in Delta, Utah. His mother had been brought there after a roundup of wild horses in Nevada six months earlier. But a week after giving birth, she died. Jazz became an orphan.

Western showdown over government's wild horse roundups

Fortunately, Eric Reid, the facility's manager and a wild horse and burro specialist, spotted Jazz's mother as he was closing for the night. He knew he had little time to save the young horse, who needed milk every 3 hours. So he called his wife, Lisa, and asked if she would care for the foal until a foster home could be found.

That evening, as Eric pulled in to the drive, Lisa and their two girls hurried out to see what was in the trailer.

They saw a frightened little foal, red with a big white blaze covering his face.

Cruel or necessary? The true cost of wild horse roundups

"He looked at us and we looked at him, sizing up each other on what the weeks ahead had in store," Lisa remembers. She made a bottle, while Eric built a small pen in the backyard by the door.

"Little did I know that having a young foal would require as much attention as a young baby, feeding every three hours, regardless!” Lisa says. “Your mother mode automatically kicks in wondering is the baby hungry, is he cold?"

Jazz, a wild horse adopted by a family after a Bureau of Land Management roundup. Courtesy of Bureau of Land Manag
Jazz, a wild horse adopted by a family after a Bureau of Land Management roundup.

Worried about how Jazz would feel his first night without his mother, Lisa retrieved her old horse's winter blanket from the barn. The family quickly settled into a routine, with someone feeding Jazz every 3 hours. Still worried that the horse was cold at night, Lisa dug through her closet and found a new sweatshirt, cut an opening in front, and draped it over his body.

Then, the challenge became to find a name for what Lisa calls "the little horse who so easily stole our hearts."

  • Slideshow Photos

    Courtesy of The Cloud Foundation

    Big dustup over wild horses

    Controversy over roundups of wild horses roaming the ranges in 10 Western states is reaching a boil, with ranchers, horse advocates and even the government itself in agreement that the Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse and Bureau Program is unsustainable. Click to view photos of the horses in the wild, and during and after the BLM roundups.

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    Wild horses relax and graze in the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range in south-central Montana on July 16, 2004, in an image provided by the Bureau of Land Management.

    Editor’s note: Some of the images in this slideshow may be disturbing to some viewers.

    Ann Boucher / BLM via AP
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    A BLM contract helicopter chases and then hovers directly over a wild horse during the Wassuck roundup, southwest of Yerington, Nev., on Oct. 5. This image was provided by the activist group Wild Horse Education.

    WildHorseEducation.org
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    Wild horses are driven into a barbed-wire fence by a helicopter during a BLM roundup at the Owyhee Complex in Nevada in December. This photo taken by horse advocate Laura Leigh caused a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order -- later rescinded -- blocking the bureau from conducting additional roundups. The BLM later issued a memo reminding contractors that "responsible and humane care ... remains a priority."

    WildHorseEducation.org
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    A white mare with a bloody gouge is shown at a trap site during the Silver King roundup in Nevada in September 2010. This image was provided by a wild horse activist group.

    WildHorseEducation.org
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    Wild horses, captured off rangelands in southern Nevada and Utah, mill about in a corral at a BLM facility near Susanville, Calif., on Oct. 29, 1996. After years of "gathers" by the BLM to thin the wild horse herds, the nearly 50,000 mustangs in captivity now far surpass the roughly 32,000 living in the wild.

    Joseph Kreiss / Lassen County Times via AP
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    A three-day-old foal with ribs showing is seen at the Indian Lakes Short-Term Holding Facility, in Fallon, Nev., on May 16, 2010, in a photo taken by horse advocate Laura Leigh. The BLM euthanized the foal a short time later. Leigh and the bureau disagreed on the reasons. Leigh said BLM workers did not realize the baby horse was taken from its mother by another mare that was not producing an adequate supply of milk. The BLM responded that the foal had been weak from birth and, at the time it was euthanized, "it was suffering and had a hopeless prognosis for survival."

    WildHorseEducation.org
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    BLM euthanized this colt after the Calico roundup in Nevada, January 2010. Horse advocate Laura Leigh was shooting video when she said she saw a helicopter operated by a government contractor chase an 8-month-old colt until he suffered a severe injury. Leigh snapped this photo with her cellphone of the horse as it lay dying in a holding pen. The BLM said the horse apparently suffered a hoof injury during the roundup.

    WildHorseEducation.org
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    Wild horses line up for a drink in the Sand Wash Herd Management Area in northwestern Colorado. This undated image was provided by a wild horse activist group.

    Living Images by Carol Walker
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    A mare nuzzles her newborn foal on the day of its birth, at the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range in Montana in July 2010. This image was provided by a wild horse activist group.

    The Cloud Foundation
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    Wild horses graze near the Carson River in Carson City, Nev., on March 14, 2006 file photo.

    Chad Lundquist / Nevada Appeal via AP
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    Wild horses slam into each other and against a steel fence in the close confinement of the BLM trap at the Barren Valley roundup in Nevada in September 2011. This image was provided by a wild horse activist group.

    WildHorseEducation.org
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    Close-up of a wild horse's Injured leg taken during the Triple B roundup in Nevada in August 2011. This image was provided by a wild horse activist group.

    WildHorseEducation.org
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    A BLM contract wrangler holds an electric prod that he was using to "hot shot" a horse (hidden by the fence) that would not move into a trailer at the Owyhee Complex roundup in Nevada in December 2012. This image was provided by a wild horse activist group.

    WildHorseEducation.org
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    A charcoal and tan mare at the BLM Palomino Valley National Adoption Center near Reno, Nev. Older horses like this are often passed over and usually spend the rest of their lives in long-term holding pastures. This image was provided by a wild horse activist group.

    WildHorseEducation.org

"Thunder? Secretariat? Blaze? No, Jazz," Lisa recalls. “He had the cutest jazzy personality and willingness to please that it just fit him well.”

The hardest decision, Lisa said, came when Jazz was healthy enough for the family to follow through on finding him a foster home. But by the end of October, she had found a family and the perfect home.

Video: Opposed to the roundups: Carole King

"They couldn't believe how small yet so precious he was," Lisa says. "I cried as I handed over his lead rope to his new foster parents. It's just amazing how much my family and I had bonded to this beautiful little soul in such a short amount of time."

In their own words: Opposing views of wild horse roundups

BLM is hoping to get more Americans to adopt wild horses, especially the youngest horses captured during the roundups. You can learn more about the program here.

Video: In support of roundups: Joan Guilfoyle

Lisa Reid, a public affairs specialist for the agency, says: "I do this job because I love these horses and all that they stand for. One person, one horse at a time, can make a difference."

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