For those of you who've never raised a foal before, I'll let you in on a little secret: The most stressful, nerve-wracking part-- after the actual foaling process-- is the act of weaning Baby away from Mommy. On large farms it's not that big of a deal. The colts are all sent packing into one pasture, the fillies are herded off to another pasture, and all of the erstwhile Mommies are left to sip tea and chat about their former children amongst each other beneath the trees in yet another pasture. But those of us who raise one or two foals at a time on small acreage don't get such luxuries. Instead it's more like, "Let's put Junior in this big paddock, which is three doors down from Mom."
Fortunately, that tactic if handled properly, actually works just fine. What helped with Cowboy is that his mother, April, thought that unloading her 4 1/2-month-old colt was just hunky dory. She was perfectly happy to help him pack his things and head out the door. Whether that's because she gets to be temporarily housed in a spacious, fully covered paddock or because she was an orphan foal that never realized she was an equine, I'm not sure. But any wailing and crying that ensued came from Cowboy, not from April. From the get-go April's impression of weaning was, "Peace at last!"
Although Cowboy spent the first couple of days wandering the fenceline, hoping that a New Best Friend Forever would materialize, he eventually decided that he could survive on his own. He's settled down and is living independently, although he does appear to idolize Topper, my sister's ex-racehorse that has found a second career as a show hunter. I'm not sure if Topper is entertaining Cowboy with tales from the track or the show ring, but the two of them spend hours together. Sometimes their noses touch. Other times they yank fly masks from each other's face. Or they simply stand alongside each other, dozing in the sun, the fence being the only thing separating them.
When Cowboy is taken out of his pen to be groomed and turned out, he's the perfect Good Little Boy. He even stands to get a shower. Ah kids, they grow up so soon! However, next weekend he gets his feet trimmed for the first time. I'll keep you posted on how that goes.
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