Another Merlin Update

A new friend and Pryor Mountain Wild Horse lover, Laura Curtis, sent Lori and I these photos of Merlin.   Laura gave me her permission to share them with you.  Below is her description of Merlin and his injury.

Merlin, September 28, 2012. Photo by Laura Curtis

It was difficult to see Merlin’s foot with the grass around it.  I could not see it close enough to tell if there was an open wound. When he raised it, it looked as if the hoof area was not firmly attached to the leg.

I took them about 6:30 pm Friday evening, Sept 28.  It was almost dark, misting rain and windy with a heavy rain coming in.  Merlin was grazing in grass beside the road with a steep drop-off on his other side.  I did not want to cause him to stop eating or need to take extra steps, so I did not get close in, and with the grass could not get a good shot of his hoof area without taking a chance on disturbing him causing him to try to move.

As we watched, he did take a few steps, limping very badly. I had to fight back tears just to watch.

On our Saturday morning drive-thru he had crossed the road and was about 20 feet from road up a small slope about 6 feet. It seemed he was putting some weight on the leg, but the hoof looked to be “dangling” when he lifted it.  But I don’t think he could have gotten from where he was Friday evening to where he was Saturday morning without using that leg some. We did not see him Sunday morning when we made our last drive before heading back home.


Merlin, September 28, 2012. Photo by Laura Curtis.
Merlin, September 28, 2012. Photo by Laura Curtis

It is difficult for me to see Merlin in this condition, but the will to survive in these wild horses is very high. I  have to hold on to the hope that Merlin will heal and get healthy before winter comes.  The thought of losing another great stallion this year is something I do not want to think about.

Please keep Merlin in your thoughts and prayers and send good healing energy his way.

Thank you so much Laura for sharing with us.


The below photo if from Linda Dombeck.  She took this in June when Merlin was injured.  It is the same leg that is injured now.  Thanks Linda for the photo.

I emailed both the NPS and the BLM about Merlin this morning.  NPS emailed back and said that they would be watching for him.

Merlin’s injury on June 16, 2012. Photo by Linda Dombeck.
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

68 thoughts on “Another Merlin Update

  • Oh no, look how thin he is. I hope he gets healthier before winter sets in. It’s not looking good, is it? I will keep him in my prayers that he gets better. Like you said, the will to live is very high. So hopefully he’ll get through this. 🙁

  • Growing a hoof out is a long process, even with intervention. I fear for Merlin. I will keep him in my thoughts and hope that someone can get a better view. Merlin holds much tension in his face, and his thin appearance does not bode well. He must be in horrible pain. So sorry.

  • I don’t remember — is this injury on the same leg as before? Those neck wounds don’t look so good,either. It must have been quite a battle. He is so determined… just hope he waits until he is healed before he tries to get his family back again. Thanks Laura and Sandy.

  • This is just heartbreaking.. I don’t know what more to say:( All my thoughts are with this amazing stallion..

  • I have to believe his will to live will win out, but I am very afraid for Merlin. His body condition has changed greatly from in June. I hope it is mostly from being very busy over the summer and not just from being THAT bad off since the injury happened. I want to send money to take him to a vet, but I know that’s not in the realm of possibility, and he would probably injure himself more if an effort were made to do so. The price we pay for loving wild horses. Godspeed, Merlin. I pray to the Great Spirit for you.

    • I agree Linda, whenever they’re injured I want to help fix them but I know we can’t. I think in some cases healing in the wild actually saves them. I think that when Lariat broke her leg last year a vet in the domestic world would have said to put her down. But here she is alive and thriving now. I know I didn’t expect her to make it, but she surprised everyone. I hope Merlin finds that strength too!

      • Yes, many times, depending on the location of an injury and various other factors, an animal will survive seemingly insurmountable difficulty. I’d be willing to bet that Medicine Bow has had a serious injury to his left hip or leg, too, but has survived in spite of it. I truly hope that somehow, the odds will be in Merlin’s favor, too. Like Sandy says, the waiting is going to be HARD; but it won’t be as hard as the healing will be for him.

      • Medicine Bow was badly injured several years ago, as I recall when discovering the Pryor Wild blog for the fist time last year. I don’t remember much about his injury, but I believe it was on his hindquarter or hind leg. It looked really nasty, too. Seemed like it was in ’08 or ’09. Look it up when have a chance! 🙂

      • I agree, Medicine Bow is a survivor. I’ll have to go look up that post. I think he may also have an injury to his hip like you said Linda because the way he runs you can clearly tell something has happened.

    • Thank you for the photo Linda.

      I feel like you do. It is so hard to just wait and see. We want to help them, I remember us having this same conversation as we watched Lakota, I only hope that Merlin can give us a better outcome.

  • I was really hoping he hadn’t worn himself out while fighting to keep his family, but I see now that he has gotten really thin. I’m really hoping he puts on weight before winter really settles in and that his leg will heal some before the heavy snow falls. Like you said these horses have a strong will to survive and Merlin seems to be very determind. It’s clear by all the neck wounds and his leg injury that he put up quite a battle for his family. I’m willing to bet he kept fighting even when his leg was injured again. It probably hadn’t fully healed from this summer yet. I dont think he will give up though. I hope he joins up with some of the bachelors to keep company over the winter months. I bet Medicine Bow would be a good friend for him 🙂 I know we will see him charge out of next spring ready to regain his band stallion status! And I know he has at least 3 potential foals next year from Halo, Fresia, and Icara. Please keep us updated.

  • I’m praying for the best possible outcome. I’ll never see these horses except through your pictures, but I feel for all of you who search for, visit, and report on them, painting portraits of their personalities and majesty for us. How courageous these mustangs are in adversity.

  • I’m glad he’s been found alive, no matter what happens this winter, he’s still alive now. I agree with Sarah about him finding company for the winter and that he has some new babies next year!

    • And I’m glad the fire season for the Pryors has been uneventfull. Down here on the west coast/southwest we are entering into the worst time of the year for fire season; warm, dry and windy. Praying for it to be uneventfull as well!

      Great update as usual! Thank you Laura, Sandy and Linda!! 😉

      • It is still very dry here in Montana and much of the Northwest. The weather is supposed to be changing this week. I hope there is a lot of moisture with it. I have not been able to go to the Pryors because of the extreme fire danger here in Western Montana. I need to stay close to home until the rain comes, just in case there is a fire.

        The weather for the next 24 hours: winter storm warning. 2-4 inches of snow above 5,000 feet. Lets hope it really happens!!! 🙂 Rain lower. I am at 4,500 feet. SO rain or snow would most certainly be welcome right now.

    • Yes, new foals for Merlin will be great. His bloodline is so great. However, I do not think that Icara will have a foal this next year. She is in the “PZP window”, being only 4 this year, she would have been given the injection. Last year was because she was not given one. The window of “non PZP” this next year will be those mares born 2003-2007. Of course there could be some surprises! 🙂

      • I completely forgot about the PZP window when I mentioned Icara. But at least we can expect ones from Fresia and Halo hopefully 🙂 I always love the surprises too! And as to your previous comment above this, I hope it POURS in your area and by the range. I know having horses it would be harder to get everything together to leave quickly. It broke my heart earlier this year hearing about people who had virtually no warning and all they could do was set their horses loose. And I know you really want to get in another trip to the pryors. I really hope you get to! I’m dying to hear about Dancer and her foal and just how everyone is doing on the range! And I know it will give you peace of mind to see how everyone is doing too!

      • I wonder how some mares are not given the drug and have no foals like Celt and this year Fiasco and Dove who finally had a foal; while others are on the drug and have foals like Madonna and Sapo and several three and four year olds. Or are there some exceptions to the ‘PZP windows’?

        Glad to hear the fire danger is going down, hopefully!! 😀

      • Well, as I understand it, the spring of 2011, there were many that did not get the PZP, so that lead to the 2012 foals, many who were born that otherwise would not have been. Also there are some mares like Sapo and Madonna that the PZP does not seem to work on.

      • That would explain the young mares foaling this year and I kinda knew Madonna and Sapo were ‘immune’ to it. I don’t understand Celt and Dove, though. Unless they are like Adona, Aztec, Aurora, Amethyst and Bailys that were given the drug too young, who have either never foaled or finally did after several years. I’m thinking that is the case with Dove and Celt. Does Amethyst have any offspring besides Fools Gold?

      • I also believe that Fools Gold is the only offspring that Amethyst has ever had. It would have been nice if they had left Kiva. Hopefully Fools Gold will have another foal.

      • I’m starting to think that they should stop giving PZP to the older mares and let nature take its course. I don’t like seeing so many foals from 2 and 3 yr-olds who may not necessarily be able to take care of a foal so well yet. I’d like to see foals from some of the “A” girls, Quelle Colour and especially Sequoyah. Just my opinion…

      • The 2 and 3 year olds are actually not supposed to be having foals. They were to be given PZP. The horses to have foals are ages 5-10. In the spring of 2011, for what ever reason, many horses were not given the PZP, so that is why we saw so many young mares giving birth in 2012.
        I do agree, there are some horses out there that should be allowed to have foals. The first one that comes to mind would be Belle Starr and there are others as well. I feel that there needs to be a rethinking on the ones that are given it, perhaps re-look at bloodlines, even if they fall outside the box of the PZP schedule. It is really hard on the older mares to foal, although Madonna seems to be doing okay, I agree it is not best to allow them to foal that old. The reasoning is that it gives them a longer life, and I do think that is good. But there are many ways to look at it I guess. Some good, some bad.. It is not perfect.

      • Yes, Belle Starr is another one I agree on, and the lineage is also why I think others should be allowed to have foals. I was reading an earlier Hope Ryden book from ’72 where she makes a comment how 2 yr olds didn’t foal, the stallions kicked them out before then. I also remember reading an earlier blog of Matt’s in which he said it was rare for a 2 yr-old to foal — so either these observations were incorrect or the PZP IS starting to affect the social structure of the herd in a way. I am trying to point out that there is something changing here, and that it’s possible PZP has something to do with it.

      • PZP has some effects on the horses besides birth control, I am sure. But I would rather see them give PZP then to have more removals. I have always said, it is the best of two evils. In a perfect world it would be great and wonderful if we could leave them alone without interference. But we all know it is not a perfect world and they do have to be managed.

  • The injury seems to be rite above his Coronary band, that was my take when I zommed in at 500%, either way, I really pray for a full healing

    • I think a Private Investigator to follow a questionable purchase of horses from beginning to end, under cover, would be a very good idea. Wish I had the funds to hire one, or the time and money to do it myself. He sounds like someone I’d trust about as far as I can throw him.

      • MY PI comment is in reply to the article about Tom Davis, which I had read a day or two ago.

  • I’m definitely betting that the leg was probably healed from the June incident, but vulnerable and has been reinjured recently. When I took that photo on 6/16/12 that is shown here, there was absolutely no swelling and he didn’t favor it, altho it was “open” and flesh was exposed at that time at the hoofline and the back side of the leg and hoof. No one has mentioned him limping or the injured leg being swollen or anything in the time since he regained his family; but maybe it took a turn for the worse and no one noticed it and that is why he is soooo thin. Him being that thin at this time of the year, and apparently not getting around very well, really concerns me. It seems to me, in Laura’s picture, that there IS swelling of the leg starting at the cannon, and some sort of deformation from the fetlock joint on down. I’ll be sadly awaiting more pics and info from anyone who can provide it without aggravating his situation. It is very commendable that Laura thought first about what was best for Merlin, in her contact with him. I will be hoping for good news…

  • A follow up on the babytalk further up on the page.. I saw somewhere that Kelly is pregnant and still has some time left? I guess that could have been really problematic if she was left on the range?

      • Just a feeling I have. But she is gaining weight differently than Kootenai. Where as Kootenai is getting heavier all over, she is staying thinner. But her tummy is getting ever so slight bit rounder (differently than Kootenai). So, I contacted the NPS to check to see if she was PZPed last spring. She was given her first shot on April 1. (this one does not prevent pregnancy). Then give her second on June 22. I guess ideally she should have been given the booster 2-6 weeks after the first one (that is what they told me). The second one would have prevented pregnancy. Soooo, I am thinking my feelings may be right. Yes, and it would be a Jackson foal! But we will have to wait and see for sure!

        I am giving her extra mash with vitamin supplement, which she LOVES. Kootenai has no interest in it yet, which she LOVES! LOL So I am taking care of her as if she is pregnant, and if she isn’t, well she will just be fat and healthy then! 🙂

      • Another special story — and a fat and healthy Kiowa is still welcome 🙂

        I am curious, though — would a pregnancy be affected, or vice versa, by the hernia?

      • I don’t know, I hope not.. I need to do some research on that. From what I can see, her hernia is closed up, put I have not been able to touch the area yet to make sure.

        I also should add: her hernia is barely visible. If I did not know she had one, I would not even probably see it. I emailed a vet friend…

      • Ohhhh! That would be good news indeed=) We need some of those now. I love to hear about all the wonderful things you do for Kiowa and Kootenai. They deserve all the can get:) Am also loving each new pic and update on Kaibab and little Liesl.. she seems so loving and affectionate:)

      • I was wondering when this subject would come up! How exciting!! A Lakota grandfoal 😀

      • Wow a surprise from Kiowa would be so wonderful! And so exciting for you!! And like you said, even if she’s not pregnant a fat and healthy Kiowa will be a great thing too! Further up you said there were many who didn’t get the PZP in spring 2011, was that the case again this year? Just wondering if there will be many surprises on the range (and off) from the young mares again or if Kiowa was just one of the few exceptions. Either way, very exciting for you!!! And I know all of us will be excited too 🙂

      • I don’t know Sarah. I just contacted them and asked about Kiowa. I think with the NPS help in giving the PZP this year, that it will be more of year where only those that are in the window of no PZP will foal. But that is just a guess.

      • As much as I love seeing so many foals on the mountain I would rather see the PZP system used accurately because I would be happiest with no more gathers. Or at least a significantly less number of horses gathered and hopefully over longer periods of time. But of course I’m sure there will always be some surprises which we will always enjoy 🙂

    • Anne, I thought the same thing when I heard about Kelly. That it’s probably better she ended up being removed. I can’t wait to see that baby too! I think they’ll both end up being better off this way.

  • Oh mighty stallion Merlin…please heal. I will be saying this prayer for him.
    I will try to get out to the range tomorrow to see if I can find him. I, like Laura will not cause him
    any fear or disturb him just to get a picture.
    Thanks to everyone for your healing energy and prayers to Merlin.

    Oh.. Sandy…maybe a Jackson foal!!!! How awesome!
    Keep us all informed as to Kiowa’s possible pregnancy!!!

  • Well another trip to the Dryhead and I did not see one horse! I was very disappointed, and especially with not seeing Merllin. I will try another day this week and see if I can find anyone.
    There were signs (cow droppings all over the road) of cattle being moved throughout the range to their winter pastures, so this may be one reason that the horses were not around. Just a guess. There were two cows right inside of the entrance to the range who evidently got lost from the rest of the cattle being moved. Hopefully they won’t eat too much before they get them off of the range as every bit of food is needed for the wild horses. I will let you all know if I can find any horses on my next trip out there.

  • Hi Sandy
    Went to look for updates and you were MIA, hope everything is okay, will miss you on FB if you leave 🙁

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