Thursday, June 30, 2011
Its my birthday & i have a confession to make. I have been keeping a secret for about eight months, well not really a secret, but more not telling my whole opinion. But now i am just going to come out and say it, get it off my chest.here it goes...
Sonny is ugly.....
I know i shouldn't be so shallow, beauty is on the inside, blah blah blah. But my wild foal is not easy on the eye. I do feel bad saying it, and its not that i don't love him just as much, but he is not good looking.
All this time i have been trying to take flattering photographs, and put nice comments about him on this blog. but every time i look at him in the paddock, i just think to myself 'what happened?' his mother Fern, is gorgeous, all visitors to the farm exclaim and gush over the beautiful wild horse. Matai has own cuteness about him too. So when fern was pregnant, even though we tried not to, we anticipated something to match her, or at least something like Matai. But Sonny stunned us, not with his super star appearance, but with his bad looks.
He was born in the middle of the night at my feet, story here, and when he first took his wobbly steps the thought that went through my head when i saw his profile in the moonlight was "good god was there a donkey loose on the ranges?" he looked like a little mule. A Big hammer shaped head, stocky legs and a solid dumpy body, he looks just like what a horse built to survive on a mountain should. Strong, tough, and able to withstand anything nature throws at him. he is not something you would find prancing around in the show rings of Europe.
All weanling's are ugly, its just that stage of life, but with his winter coat, Sonny looks like a woolly kumara (kumara are a long lumpy type of sweet potato). This big head now sports a beard that runs along his bottom jaw, wiht a white pointed muzzle that only empaises his big head. his legs are covered in long pale brown/ whitish hair, making them even stockier, and his growth rate has sent his butt about inch higher than his shoulder, so his body looks like he slightly tilted forward at all times.Thank god he cant understand what we say as his self confidence would be shattered. Especially compared to the other two foals which hit the ground looking like supermodels, he has been lovingly referred to as mule baby, ugly duckling, donkey, & all other sorts of names because well his looks aren't his best feature.
But for all that, he has been the sweetest little guy. In his mother eyes I'm sure to, that he is the most handsome thing to walk the earth. But to us, he all the more lovable because well he is the ugly little duckling, that everyone who visits jokes about. He is such a considerate boy to, now that he runs with the stallion, he has grown into a sensible cotl, and when hes being caught or handled always has this expression that he trying to be mature and responsible. He is not the cheeky energetic imps that gallop around causing chaos like the other two hooligans. He stands sensibly and quietly almost concerned to do the wrong thing, with what i call his thinker pose on.
He may not be a beauty queen, or a graceful moving dancer,but he does have other skills that will hopefully help him in life. that quiet stoic nature means he will be able to cope in many different situation, those strong sturdy legs less likely to break or damage, and with his great metabolism he will never be an expensive horse to have around. He can jump too, no gorse bush branch or tuft of grass gets in his way, he always take the straightest route from A to B, and if something is in his way, he happily soars over it, with perfectly tucked knees, and that big butts gives him plenty of power to lift high above any obstacle. So hopefully there will be a place in the world for him when he gets older.
But before anyone thinks I'm mean and horrible about my little wild foal, i do love him dearly. Out of the three babies born this year, its Sonny not the specially bred warm bloods, that's parading around the paddock in a brand new hunter green cover. with the wet weather the babies coats are just not keeping them dry, and wet cold foals, are not healthy horses. so keeping them dry is always worth the investment, as it means less money spent on feeding, and less health problems. So while the warm blood babies are wearing the hand me downs of every other foal we've ever bred, Sonny gets the best in a completely waterproof, thick, warm sparkly new winter rug. So despite his appearance sonny will always be well cared for and loved with us.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Anything out of the ordinary with animals is usually bad, it sets alarm bells ringing in my head immediately. I may be a bit pessimistic, but through years of experience, this is what i have learned. Changes from the routine are rarely good. So it was yesterday when i couldn't find my wild grey mare. Fern was missing...
Fern usually comes into the barn for the day, but yesterday i left her and another mare in the paddock, as i was going to be away all day riding. I left hay in the paddock to keep them occupied. When i left i saw a grey shape away grazing on top of the hill, I thought it was odd she hadn't come down for the hay, but with the wet weather and muddy slopes, i have found a few of the horses would rather stay up high & dry than try negotiating down the hill to hay. So off i went.
I got home late, verging on dark. By the time i had put the other horses away, and moved the rest of the mares & foals into a new paddock, Fern was nowhere to be seen.Sh#t! Sh%t! Sh#t!!!! this was defiantly alarm bell material, darkness, mud, rain & a horse somewhere off in a large paddock alone. Horses are herd animals, they do not ever really choose to be alone, especially if they usually are with a herd. If separated they will call and call to each other. Yet this night there was a sound except the squelching of my boots as i trudged through the paddock, and the steady increase of rain drops falling in the mud.
This month we have already had more than half a metre of our average rainfall. Every paddock is mud, walking through a gateway you risk thick brown sludge spilling over the top of your gumboot, and now on top of the mud is a couple inches of standing water. Everywhere you walk, every step is draining, every time u pick up a foot it comes up with a pound of mud attached. By this time its dark, raining, and I'm walking up & down hills through scrub and brush, slipping on wet clay, and still no Grey horse to be found. I searched for an hour every fence line, track and crevice, anywhere i thought a horse my get caught fall or stuck. She wasn't anywhere.
I got a flash light and the dogs and went looking again. No grey horse. I was soaked and exhausted it was clear that it was going to take more than me to find her. This was a large paddocks on a hillside and it was filled with dense bush. All kind of thoughts were going through my head, mainly that with the wet & mud i would find her in a similar situation to what i did last year...
Finally at 11pm when i had rounded up family members with flash lights to go out for a final search, grey walked by herself out of the bushes, seeing our flashlights she called out with her usual friendly neigh, and walked right up. Slipping the halter on i checked her over, dreading to see leg laceration or similar injuries. Nothing. No wounds, she was muddy like shed been down on the ground but no marks on her to show shed been stuck anywhere. But in a way this made it all the more weird, Fern is a friendly horse, she likes coming in to the barn and shes never difficult to catch so i doubt she'd been just misbehaving before, in fact she usually greets with a neigh to be taken to the barn. Again it was weird that she tolerated separation from the herd. So why the hell had it taken me 6 hours to find her and then she had just walked right up to me??
This become apparent all to soon as soon as id led her down the hill and met up with the fellow searchers. She just lay straight down on the ground in the middle of us. This is not a good sign in any horse, Horse very rarely lie down for any reason, most choosing to sleep on their feet. You have to remember they are prey animals and being on the ground is a very vulnerable position.Fern hadn't lied down for a nap, this meant she was sick, and lying down in this way usually mean colic!!
Colic basically covers any sort of intestinal upset in horses, and can mean mild tummy upset, to a twisted gut and death. my little grey horse wasn't out of the woods yet. She was just sitting down in the mud, not thrashing and rolling which was a good thing. If a horse has colic, you want to stop them rolling on the ground as this is what leads to a twisted gut. After about one minute she got to her feet again. This time i kept her walking, right up to the barn.
Suddenly things made more sense though. A sick animal will take itself away from the herd, or sometimes a herd will drive out the old or weak. I'm sure Ferns instincts told her to hide when she fell sick.By the time i found her it was my guess that was because she wanted to be found, the worst had already passed. It would also explain the mud all over if she had been lying down, and why i couldn't find her. If she was lying amongst the scrub brush i could have walked right by and not seen her, looking as i was for a horse on it feet not on the ground.
In the barn she was more settled, but occasionally looked back and nipped at her belly, to show signs of discomfort, confirming my belief that it was colic. She sipped water and nibbled a little hay, but nothing like her normal self. pawing occasionally she at least wasn't trying to go down anymore. Living on a farm we are far from any vets, as it is their are no horse vets in the area anyway, so Fern treatment was going to come down to us.So it was for the next hour i kept an eye on her, watching for any signs of her improvement or turning for the worse. But by midnight i thought she was improving. No longer pawing or biting at herself.
Finding the flattest paddock i could, and one where she would not disappear into the bush again, i turned her out. My thinking was that a paddock was safer than a stable as if she was to lay down and get cast against a stable wall we would be in real trouble. But she seemed fine going on to graze. I checked on her through the night but she seemed happier and passed the worst of it.
By morning she was back to her old self, and i breathed massive sigh of relief. I thought id lost my grey horse when i couldn't find her for all those hours, thankfully the colic passed too and shes okay.I think If i had found her hanging upside down with a broken limb, or dead from a twisted gut, i would have ever forgiven myself or been able to write on this blog again.
At the same time i think that sturdy and sensible wild horse mentality, probably allowed her to cope and recover better than most horses. My sensitive sport horses would probably have galloped, or lay thrashing on the ground unable to cope and ended up in far worse shape. So thankfully we still have all our horses safe and healthy and the only legacy being an extremely exhausted blogger, from a night of worry and stress.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Starting tonight with Fern.
She wasn't the skin & bones case that the little brown stallion was. She came off the truck in pretty good condition. Although her big wormy/baby belly was deceptive, as she still had slightly jutting hip bones, and a neck that seemed to stick straight skywards out of her chest. But she definitely was a good strong sturdy and sensible girl, who happily tucked into her hay net on arrival, and shes been eating ever since.
Finally things with Fern started to changes, as did the seasons. With Spring she lost her winter woollies, and grew wider and wider and wider, as we watched and watched, waiting for the time when the foal would make an appearance. Finally when we thought she may just in fact pop,we had Sonny. This would have to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life, to have a once wild animal, walk up to me in the moonlight, and deliver her baby literally at my feet.
Fern was such an amazing motherand milk producer, that Sonny grew and grew into the fattest and healthiest foal we have ever raised, who just oozes vitality. She has been the most protective and loving mother, who showed true grief and heartbreak at the weaning and separation from her boy.
Yet time is still ticking away and Fern continues to change. She has been saddled and will soon be ridden, without the burden of a baby to care for, her anxiety and worries are gone, she is suddenly more carefree, sand chooses to interact more wiht both human and horses, and has become a bit of a smoochy social creature. The first horse waiting to be caught each morning, tucking into her feed and leaning into her daily grooming sessions, Fern is finally relishing in the life that domestication has given her.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
Well time heals all wounds, or lets you know you can live past the pain at least. Fern and Sonny have survived the weaning, they still call to each other occasionally, but the absolute desperation of their screams has ended. giving me a brief respite of a little peace and quiet, at least until the next one has to be weaned in a months time.
The wild stallion has become the most caring and patient big brother for little Sonny. They are two peas in a pod, the little brown weanling shadows the little brown stallion's every move, even picking up some of his mannerisms. Just shows how much animals learn from observing others, not just instinctive.
Fern has been one very sad girl, but today she seemed to find some light at the end of the tunnel. Galloping, bucking and kicking up her heals like never before. For the first time in probably her entire life, shes not struggling to survive, or raising a child, shes a single gal again. The transition for her hasn't been easy though, she has babysat and fussed over the other two foals, as if watching them will bring her own baby back. Every day shes left alone in the paddock, with the two babies, while all the other horses go to the barn for the day. She stands over them, takes them out grazing and basically mothers them for a couple hours each day, it seems her outlet for all those mothering instincts and hormones still runing through her. these foals don't mind being separated from their own mothers and seem to enjoy their days with Fern. Cant say id trust any of the other broodmares to watch over babies not their own.
Last of all I would like to thank Gail from At the Farm, for giving me a blogging award.
in exchange for getting this you are meant to nominate 5 more blogs to receive an award, so although there are heaps of great blogs out there these are the ones i have recently discovered and loved, not all of them are horsey related either.
1. Other things Amanzi a surgeon in South Africa, because it is well written, funny and a completely different set of shoes than the ones i walk in.
2. Girl on a mountain with a chicken because i read the about me blurb,and it was like reading about myself...except I'm not mad keen on goats, but cool stories and very interesting.
3. Sweet adventures of Sugar Belle because cooking is my therapy at the end of a hard week, i make pies though, and have no where near the patience and attention to detail to make the masterpieces this person does with cookies
4. Fugly horse of the day didn't like this at first, because i don't like the idea of just bitching about others non stop, but shes got some great content on here and some real tear jerking stuff, and is defiantly raising awareness of big issues within the horse riding world, so kudos to her. Reading all the comments are pretty amusing to.
5. Alaskan Arctic Expeditions because if i didn't have horses this would be my dream life, having sled dogs and traveling through the wilderness
Rules of the Award are that upon receiving, you thank the person that gave it to you. Then nominate 5 more and leave a message on their to tell blog to tell them of their award.