Breeding a foal comes with huge responsibilities including how the foal will be handled, educated and weaned. These events will shape the young horse’s life and often play a vital role in the home they go to if they are to be sold.
I have been breeding horses for most of my life (the past 40 years anyway) and continue to learn from past experiences and most of all, the horses.
The ‘blank canvas’ of a foal, gives us the opportunity to paint a pretty picture with a friendly, well educated foal as the result, and I hope the following articles help you with your ‘masterpiece’.
It’s a warm summer evening and the sun has just dropped behind the hill, allowing the coolness of shade to bring relief to a hot day.
The new colt, only 2 days old, is released into the round yard with his mum, Rosie.
He immediately tries out his wobbly legs, stretching those tight tendons as he canters and bucks and skips around.
His doting first time mum follows his every move, constantly touching him to say “I’m here to look after you” and casting a severe warning to the rest of the herd who are hanging over the fence, to not even think about touching her baby.
Her nuzzle on his neck with a look of such serene love in her eyes is the most beautiful thing to behold.
The colt’s running, bucking and leaping is interspersed with the inquisitive investigation of his surroundings. He chews the plastic covered fence wire and curls his nostrils at the strange taste.
Everything is sampled by mouth – the feed bucket, the grass growing around the edge that he can barely reach with such a short neck and those long lanky legs.
He runs and skips to a stop, spins and is off again with his glowing palomino mum trotting to keep up with every move.
Then its’ drink time – she lifts her leg off the ground to his determined nudges to get the milk to let down, too gentle to try a kick or a nip just yet.
She stands in perfect stillness with her belly sucked up to allow him to drink his fill.
His little tail flaps with contentment and a bright pink tongue licks his lips when he’s finished. Then he finds the water bucket and has his first attempt at drinking.
Swishing and slurping, then snorting at this strange new substance.
He tries to scratch an impossible to reach itch – with a neck not long enough and a leg that isn’t coordinated yet. But he persists, bending his body, splaying those legs and finally reaching his target briefly.
Then after another burst of play, another drink and a wee, he’s looking sleepy and finds a spot to crumple up those awkward legs to lie down for a nap.
Rosie relaxes and munches on hay, glad that her first baby is quiet now. Happy and content to be surrounded by her herd who are still resting by the fence.
It’s been a wonderful way to enjoy dinner, out on the deck, watching the most beautiful bond between mare and new foal – who would want to be anywhere else?
The Mare’s Farewell
Come here, my son, come to my side,
There’s something I must say –
The words I’ve said to all my sons
Before they’ve gone away.
Tomorrow at the saleyards, son,
Your future life will start,
You’ve seen not yet the world of men
In which you’ll play a part.
Though I am but a cart horse, son,
And worn out now, and old,
I once was strong and proud, like you,
With head held high, step bold.
‘Twas men that made me like I am
Through thoughtless ways, and cruel,
To some you’re just a horse, my son,
A four-legged mute – a fool.
But son, remember when you’re tired
And heavy seems your load,
Among the cruel there are the kind
Who’ll help you walk the road.
This is your mother’s wish for you,
That life may bring no sorrow;
I hope, my son, you’ll find a friend
In your owner – come tomorrow.