Filly Lost & Found: A Mother’s Day Post

Lost filly near Hole in the Wall, Wyoming

Two years ago, in Wyoming, one of my childhood dreams came true. Somewhat lost on back roads, searching for Butch Cassidy’s Outlaw Cave in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, I happened to look off to the side of the red dirt road and saw something that made my heart stop: a tiny red foal, all alone, laying down among the red rocks, no mare in sight.

I immediately pulled over, left the dogs in the car and climbed up the bank above the road to get a better look. I grew up with horses, but I’d never seen one so new; the foal was no more than a few hours old. As I approached, slowly, talking sweetly, and holding my hands palms up and open in front of me, the baby whinnied and wobbled to her feet.

Mares will sometimes leave a foal if it is sickly or deformed, but this one seemed well enough and looked perfect. She took a few unsteady steps towards me and whinnied again, making desperate suckling motions with her mouth. Gently, I ran my fingertips down her velvet nose, the softest thing I’ve ever felt, and she latched on to my finger. She was alive but thirsty, hot and stressed. She needed her mom, fast.

Poor baby was hugging that pole like it might be her mother

Miraculously, I had an idea where her mom was. A few miles back down the road, I had passed a field of mares and foals and noticed one mare running back and forth, calling frantically. At the time, I thought, poor thing must have lost her foal. I never dreamed I’d find it!

Quickly I ran through my options. She was too weak and wobbly to walk back to the field, even if I could get her to follow me. I could try to put her in my car or in my Teardrop and drive her back down the road, but I didn’t want to stress her, especially with the dogs in the car. So I told her I’d be right back, ran to my car, unhitched the Teardrop, drove back to the ranch and tracked down the owner, an older man with a big hat and a bigger moustache.

The Hole in the Wall Ranch, Barnum, Wyoming

Sure enough, one of his mares, a first-time mom, had gone off to give birth overnight and returned in the morning without the baby. He assumed it was dead and seemed incredulous to hear that she was on her feet. He asked if I would go wait with the foal while he hitched up his trailer.

The filly was still standing where I left her. I grabbed my camera and sat on the ground in front of her, talking sweetly, assuring her that help was on the way. Her newborn baby softness was astonishing. Even her tiny hooves were still soft and curled from the womb, not yet hardened by life on earth. I looked into her big brown eyes and she looked back at me, the first human she’d ever seen and it was love.

Filly Love. Those eyelashes! Those ears! That crooked star! What a doll.

In my childhood fantasy, I find an orphaned foal and she’s mine and I’m hers, forever. I raise her by bottle, teach her everything I know about being a horse and she teaches me everything she knows about being a horse mother and the two of us grow up together. Now, 31 years old and tied to nothing but a couple of dogs and a Teardrop trailer, I’m glad to know her mom’s just down the road, hopefully eager for a reunion. Watching over this foal for a few minutes is as close to motherhood as I want to get.

When the rancher arrived, he looked her over, and told me he thought she’d be all right. The mare was still looking for her, hadn’t yet forgotten and hopefully they’d be happily reunited. He guessed the steep bank above the road might have been their undoing; if the mare gave birth up here, the baby may have been unable to follow her home. With that he picked her up, carried her down the bank and loaded her into his trailer.

Goodbye Filly, Best of Luck!

As he was driving away, he leaned out the window of his truck and asked me, “Hey what’s your name?” I told him and he said, “It’s a filly. I’m going to name her after you. Thanks again.” I’ve never been so honored by anything in my life.

Dedicated to all the moms in my life: my mom and her mother, Meg and Meg, Amy and Ashley, Courtney and Reinhild. You ladies are amazing. Happy Mother’s Day!

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
This entry was posted in Cowboys & Horses, Photography, Road tripping!, Teardrop Trailer, Vagabonding 101. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Filly Lost & Found: A Mother’s Day Post

  1. Anthony says:

    To cute. Glad the filly was found.

  2. Ann Koplow says:

    Wonderful words and photos! Thank you, on this Mother’s Day.

  3. swo8 says:

    That is a lovely Mother’s Day story.

  4. Lavinia Ross says:

    Have been enjoying your posts, but this one is special. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Barbara says:

    Absolutely beautiful story!! So glad you saw her..was meant to be.

  6. shinotanaka says:

    Reblogged this on shino/tanaka and commented:
    One of the best stories. Ever.

  7. RoSy says:

    What a nice story. And – so sweet that he named her after you.

  8. This is the best Mother’s Day post I’ve read all weekend.


  9. pmdello says:

    Wow! This is what I love about blogging: the incredible stories that are out in the world waiting to be heard.

  10. Aw this is the sweetest story ever. She is so darling. You were meant to be there for both her and for you.

  11. FeyGirl says:

    Most wonderful story… How amazing that you were able to be there for this little one, to find and save her, and reunite her with her poor distraught mama. Just beautiful, through and through. ❤

  12. dorannrule says:

    I love this story! I love this story!

  13. dorannrule says:

    Reblogged this on Virginia Views and commented:
    The sweetest Mother’s Day story …..

  14. Mike says:

    Great story! Wonderful photos.

  15. What a wonderful story!

  16. pattisj says:

    Enjoyed your story and the happy ending.

  17. What an honor and a blessing that you put the pieces of this story together.

  18. cindy knoke says:

    I am not surprised you did this. Impressed, but not surprised, after all I know you.
    Simply beautiful and how humans are supposed to be~

  19. Linda P. says:

    The best ever way to fulfill a childhood dream!

  20. That was great! Really super special that you found the little filly and saved her life.

  21. Mike C says:

    Great story. Your blog is now one of my regular reads. So there’s a horse running around out there called Blonde Coyote? That must be confusing for the poor thing.

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