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The Heart Warming Life Story Of Chippewa-The Little Foal

Chippewa as he looks today, a handsome young, healthy foal.

Chippewa as he looks today, a handsome young, healthy foal.

By: Kris Hazelton
Editors Note: We have had many requests to recap the story of little Chippewa and we decided to run this story again as the Richardsons get Chip ready to make his public debut in the Rooftop Rodeo Parade.

In mid February of this year, a local horse owner contacted Dr. Marie Richardson, (Dr. C) telling her of a newborn foal that was in desperate need of help. They had a mare they didn’t know was pregnant and had given birth to the young foal overnight. That particular night was very cold, only 10 degrees, and when ranch hands came in the next morning, they discovered the newborn foal and tried their best to get him up to nurse on his mother yet the baby was very weak and unresponsive. Despite doing their best, they decided the best place for this young foal was with a veterinarian. When Dr. C took the young horse in, he was emaciated and in poor shape, he couldn’t raise head and had some serious neurological problems.

Little Chip got to meet a full size horse.

Little Chip got to meet a full size horse.

Marie thought to herself, “I have two choices, either euthanize him, or go all the way and try to save his life.” She decided to jump in with both feet and go all the way. She knew it would not be an easy undertaking, but we all know Dr. C has a heart of gold and she could not let this baby go without trying her best.

Dr. C. quickly got horse milk replacement and began feeding him one quart of formula every four hours, 24 hours a day. Since he would not suckle, he had to be tube fed which meant Dr. C had to pass a plastic tube down the little foal’s nose and into his stomach to get his nourishment in. He also needed medicine as he had diarrhea and was very weak. With the tender loving care he received, the little foal began getting stronger each and every day. After a few weeks, he was able to walk in the sunshine in the yard of the Animal Hospital of the Rockies on his own power.

Dr. Richardson has been so very dedicated and giving to this little baby horse and devoted not only many hours of her time, but also hundreds and hundreds of dollars to purchase medicines, supplies and special supplements this young foal needed to make him well.

After the Richardson family was relatively sure the foal would live, the young horse was named Chippewa by their son, Nathan. His grandfather was a Chippewa Indian and Nathan wanted to honor his grandfather by naming the foal for him.

Shortly after that, CNN got wind of the story and wanted to let the world know about this ‘feel good’ story. Chuck Roberts called and interviewed Dr. C and viewers around the world learned about the young horse and the efforts to save him. CNN showed video from the Estes Park News which you can still access on our website at       

The first month of Chip’s life was critical and his life was very fragile but this baby horse is so sweet and his determined personality to live endeared him to everyone. Everyone in town and around the country were rooting for him and hundreds of people hoped and prayed for his survival. Everyone wanted to see this adorable young horse grow up healthy and happy.

All of the hard work and love really began to pay off, and Chip began to thrive. They had him out in the yard, in the sunshine everyday where his muscles got stronger and he really began to like being outside. He even learned to trot a bit when encouraged and that was a really good sign. When Dr. C came in to treat or feed Chip, he began to give her a little “whinny welcome” that he was happy to see her and the family.

In April, Dr. C  got a special visit from CBS Denver Channel 4’s Suzanne McCarroll and Photojournalist Bill Masure because she was nominated for a CBS Pay it 4ward award. Local resident, Bonnie McKain sent the story of Chippewa in to Channel 4 and according to Suzanne, they just couldn’t resist her heartfelt letter nominating Dr. C for this award. The Pay It 4ward staff realized that Dr. C had been paying out-of-pocket for the I.V.’s, plasma, leg bandages, wound care, and special goat’s milk that were all making Chippewa strong which is why McKain wanted to pay it forward. She wanted CBS4 to help Dr. C with the medical expenses she has incurred. Shortly after that, Chip took his first field trip to meet a local horse, Findley where he learned that he is really a horse, not a person!

A very, very sick little Chippewa.

A very, very sick little Chippewa.

Chip continued making huge progress and started leaping and bucking around in the yard. Chip also learned how to drink water from a bucket, how to munch on the grass and how to chew and eat. He finally began doing what a horse is supposed to do!

Kathy Fitch, local singer/songwriter was so touched by Chippewa’s story that she wrote a song about him that is on a newly released CD, “Around the Campfire” by Kathy and Brad Fitch. They will be singing their song along with Chippewa in the Rooftop Rodeo parade next Tuesday! Don’t miss your chance to see Kathy and Brad and little Chippewa for yourself!

Dr C now has this to say, “We have gotten so many cards, letters and donations from people all over the country. We truly appreciate all the help, prayers, and good wishes from everyone. It really makes our day. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you from the Animal Hospital of the Rockies and the Richardson Family.”

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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