On May 26, Yvonne Mikkelsen, an employee of the Lockwood Landfill in northern Storey County, noticed a wild horse foal, a bay with one white sock, and a diamond-shaped star on her forehead, frolicking around its mother.
The next day, the filly, then about a week old, was by itself, injured, and lying by the side of the road.
Several garbage truck drivers saw the animal and brought it to the scale house, where the trash is weighed, and tried to coax it into drinking water out of one of their hard hats.
She said as soon as she saw it, she knew it was the same one she called "White Sock" the day before.
"I have never seen such tough men be so concerned about an animal," Mikkelsen said. "It was heartbreaking, because we didn't know if it was going to make it."
The foal was a big hit at the landfill, with all the workers coming down for a look while the staff waited for Mike Holmes, the Nevada Department of Agriculture range manager, to collect it.
Holmes said the filly was injured by a mountain lion or other wild cat, or possibly by a coyote or a dog, which tore its lip in two.
It was probably rescued at the time by the mother, but the lip wound left it unable to nurse. As it weakened, it couldn't keep up with the herd and was apparently abandoned.
Mikkelsen said the workers were happy when Holmes told them the horse was probably going to survive.
Like other abandoned foals, the filly, now called "Tulip-Double Lip," found refuge in Shirley Allen's bedroom at the Lucky Horse Rescue Corral in Dayton.
Allen said she was told some of the workers wanted to call the filly "Double Lip" but thought Tulip should be part of the name too, because "it's a pretty little flower, so it fits."
The filly, dressed in a horse blanket against the bite of a brisk wind, frolicked in Allen's yard with Pogo the sheep, Billy the goat and Gracie the donkey, all rescued animals in the Allen's menagerie. At night, she sleeps in the Allens' bedroom, on a layer of quilts and wearing a large diaper.
Tulip-Double Lip will eventually be adopted, in about four months, Allen said.
Allen said she took the horse to a veterinarian and had the damaged lip repaired, but that she would always have a scar there.
"We did some surgery on her and part of the lip came off," she said. "But she's learned how to drink."
Allen said that cats go for the muzzle, neck or rump of potential prey, and don't usually attack grown horses. "This time it probably went for the muzzle and the mother interfered, because it wouldn't have been able to fight," she said. Later, she said the foal was probably abandoned because it was too weak to keep up.
But it apparently didn't give up, Allen said, and will make a fine horse despite the injury.
"Their resiliency and stamina and will to live just absolutely amazes me," she said.
Allen has nine other horses up for adoption at her corral, sponsored by Least Resistance Training Concepts, a horse-advocacy organization. She said three are eight to 10 months old, one is a yearling, one is a two-year-old and the rest are five to eight years old.
The slowing economy has made horse adoptions more of a challenge, she said, adding that some people who adopted wild horses in the past are giving them up, including Heidi-Ho, a filly that was rescued two years ago.
"Her folks financially could not do it anymore," she said.
But at least they called for help, instead of dumping the horse as some have done.
"With all the horse groups around, there's no excuse for that," she said, adding that rarely do domestic horses survive in the wild.
YOU CAN HELP
For information on the horses available for adoption, call Shirley Allen at 246-7636.