Life in our Foothills December 2022 – What Foal Is This?
Published 11:11 am Thursday, December 22, 2022
Nothing tugs at our heartstrings more than a precious newborn life. Fragile and innocent, we enter the world in this helpless condition. Mother is the center of our universe. Such was the case with the tiny foal, Bambi. She was born to Heather’s Mist, a buckskin mare who was a child herself, age three.
Bambi had been conceived when Mist was only age two at a farm in Georgia. The farm focused on Angus cattle breeding and sales. The lady of the farm liked horses. She started with a few Welsh ponies and quarter horses. Unfortunately, she kept adding to her collection. She purchased a handsome, chestnut colt who grew up to become a breeding stallion. He ruled over the field of mares, producing a sea of foals.
The wife stopped visiting the horses. The newborn equines became feral and uncatchable. Unfortunately, the woman died with no plan for these horses. Her husband did not want to feed this expanding herd that roamed the property with his prize cattle. He rounded them up for a kill buyer from North Carolina, who bought all 25 equines. Several of the mares were heavy in foal. Others had foals that were old enough for him to wean and sell separately from their mothers. And then there was Bambi. She was a newborn, who entered the world at the crowded livestock yard. Too young to separate, so vulnerable to sickness and sudden death. I could not turn my tail to this situation. We had to do something fast.
My mistress, Heather Freeman, of Helping Equines Regain Dignity (HERD), raised the funds to buy Heather’s Mist with Bambi, as well as purchasing a five-year-old blue roan mare, we named Sterling. Then the decision was made to purchase the untouchable stallion, now called Frasier, to help him. He was the least likely to be rescued from this dire situation at age six. Sarah Twitchell, who runs Buck’s Pride, a sister rescue organization, could take him. She specializes in saving stallions from kill lots. Sarah was willing to drive down from Virginia and pick him up in North Carolina. He would be gelded as soon as possible.
Sterling, Mist, and Bambi were impossible to touch upon arrival to HERD. They spent a month in quarantine with Kailey Greene in Rutherfordton before we could tackle moving them into foster care. Sterling went to a trainer in Brevard who specializes in unhandled mustangs, Carey Stewart Toole. She fell in love with the beautiful mare and adopted her from HERD. The Toole family soon discovered that Sterling was pregnant. Frasier had bred her. She produced a gorgeous colt, Bruno, who resembles his half-sister, Bambi.
Meanwhile, Mist and Bambi came to live on our ranch. They were placed in a private pasture separated from all the other HERD residents. As the summer unfolded into fall, Bambi was old enough to wean her from Mist. It was a long slow process. Feeding the foal and mare separately, in enclosed pens, was the first step. We could then halter break both Bambi and Mist to lead them. We moved Mist up closer to the barn. Bambi received a new pasture mate, golden palomino three-year-old Liberty. The two became instant friends. They stretched out in a beautiful gallop, thrilled with a newfound friendship. Liberty was chosen as she is polite and friendly with people, an ideal role model. She transformed Bambi quickly into a curious attention-seeking weanling.
Building trust and confidence is still an ongoing mission for us with Mist. For a brief time, she came to stay with Sedona and me in my pasture. This was helpful to her as we are exemplary ponies. We come when called to be groomed and fed. Visiting the main barn for our naps is the highlight of our day. Soon Mist was also coming up to the gate. She too came to appreciate her stall in the barn. However, she got so dominant with us, pushing us away and breaking our daily routine, Heather had to relocate her to a new paddock.
Today, Mist resides with the kind mare, Joy. The two of them graze peacefully and enjoy the attention of the volunteers who visit to train them. Joy loves everyone. Mist on the other hand is very particular. She likes only a few people. One of them is Celeste Chaput. Mist trusts Celeste and looks to her for comfort and leadership. Their partnership is such a blessing. It is our hope that in 2023, we will be able to place Mist up for adoption after we have her riding under saddle. She is now four years old and has blossomed into such a pretty mare.
Bambi adores everyone she meets. She exudes confidence. Now one year old, she is fearless and learns so quickly in her sessions with Valerie Lowe, who specializes in groundwork training. Bambi tackles all the obstacles in the horse playground, from the wooden teeter totter and bridge to the suspended flapping tarp and the tunnel, complete with colorful foam noodles. She loads onto the horse trailer with ease. Bambi is people-oriented, the bigger the circle of friends, the better. I venture to say she is the friendliest horse in HERD.
If we had not stepped in, none of these horses would be alive today. Mist, Sterling, and Frasier would have been shipped to Mexico, because untouchable horses are rarely purchased for anything other than to be slaughter bound. Bambi, too young to feed herself, would have been abandoned to die, out of sight, and Bruno never born. I know these horses are very appreciative of our grand intervention that brought them to safe havens. Frasier is currently in under saddle training. Sterling and her young colt Bruno are loving life with Carey’s family.
What foal is this turned out to be what foals are these. Bambi and Bruno received the gift of life among people who care for their well-being and delight in watching them excel. So did their fortunate mothers and sire.