This is Mare Chubby; she was born in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 2001.
When we moved to North Dakota in 2016, Chubby was in Stallion Cloud’s band. She, Cloud, and the rest of his band were some of the most viewed and photographed horses in the park.
In 2016, Chubby & Cloud had a lethal white baby. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lethal_white_syndrome)
In 2017, Chubby and Cloud gave birth to a gorgeous colt we named Bubbles. We were excited to see a healthy colt born into to this band, ESPECIALLY since he was now the ONLY horse Cloud had to carry on his legacy.
It became apparent by the end of 2017 that Chubby was pregnant again. A sure sign that she was NOT one of the mares that Colorado State University (CSU) choose to give birth control to as part of their 11-year experiment on the TRNP horses. She seemed to be in good health for a coming 17-year-old wild horse.
The band had a habit of moving across the river while the river was frozen, but some early unseasonable warm weather in March of 2018 caused the once frozen river to thaw before they could make it back across to the main part of the park.
We found the band on March 17, 2018. As we watched the band from across the river, we very clearly could see a new baby with the band. We could also very clearly see every band member EXCEPT Mare Chubby. We would be informed by park personnel later that day that Chubby had died due to complications during the foaling process. At the age of 17, having given birth every year from about the age of 2-3 years old understandably took its toll on her.
We named Chubby’s filly that was born that day Miracle. That little fighter of a filly fought for her life for 5 days. Just when we were getting hopeful that she might make it by some “miracle”, days of literally starving to death without the nourishment from her mother took her from us too.
We spoke with the TRNP’s wildlife biologist after Chubby’s death. We inquired about giving birth control to older mares, like so many other herds do, so that no other mare and foal suffered the same fate as Chubby and Miracle. We even offered to pay for birth control to help ensure this didn’t happen again.
As long as CSU was conducting their experiment on our horses, that became the running excuse for why nothing could happen or change within TRNP. Management plan – ummm no not while CSU was doing their “study”. Birth control for older mares – ummm no, not while CSU was doing their “study”. Please rotate birth control for younger mares – ummm no, not while CSU was doing their “study”.
Since March 17, 2018, 6 additional mares have unnecessarily died due to complications during the foaling process. With the death of each one of those mares I have repeatedly felt like I have let Chubby down. This has become a huge part of what fuels my advocacy for these horses.
We also asked the park, especially in light of Chubby’s death and the fact that Cloud has NO offspring in the park, if their 1-year-old colt could be spared from that year’s round ups. Of course, the park said no. Even more alarming is that Maryly Weber from North Dakota Badlands Horse, who is always there helping the park capture the horses to auction off, later admitted to me that Bubbles was the first horse she found during that round up and he was the very first one that they captured.
Bubbles lives in a great home with wonderful people. That is not the issue.
Cloud is now a bachelor and still has no offspring in the park. Chubby has passed away leaving only 2006 Mare Daisy (currently in Copper’s band) to carry on her legacy. We will never get another Cloud/Chubby baby and we may very well never get another Cloud baby with anyone.
Older mares dying unnecessarily, foals starving to death and yet another bloodline lost is not ok with us and is a huge part of why we started this nonprofit group.