Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails


Some mares are amazing with their foals, some are monsters, and others are indifferent, like Mirror Image was with her first foal, Mandan. Danny for short.
I can still clearly remember the mare’s surprise at seeing the little, black colt that suddenly joined her in the stall. Not only did she initially look at him, as if she couldn’t figure out where he’d come from, she didn’t mother him either. There were no soft nickers of love and care, yet she didn’t spurn the little guy either. She was quite simply, indifferent to his presence.
With sweetpea at Image’s head to keep her calm, I went about the somewhat frustrating, completely amusing task of getting baby to nurse. Thankfully, Image didn’t make any attempts to kick the little guy. She danced around a little, trying to avoid the very personal touch, but after a short time, relented. Between sweetpea’s soft assurances and my gentle scolding and persistence, baby was finally allowed to nurse. If Image was taken aback by the appearance of the little stranger in her stall, she was even more so, by what he was doing! You could almost hear her thoughts when her head went up and eyes widened.
‘Hey! What do you think you’re doing? Stop that!’ It was as clear as anything.
It was a bit of a puzzle to me, why Image wasn’t being more motherly. Her own mother had been a good, nurturing mama, and Image had witnessed several births, so this shouldn’t have been such a surprise to her. First time mothers can be a bit unpredictable though, and we were relieved that she was at least allowing baby to feed.
Mares who are too blase with their offspring, often improve before too much time has passed. Not so with Image, and it troubled sweetpea greatly. You see, Image was her horse, and she loved that black beauty dearly. It was difficult to grasp, how a horse as loving, affectionate and sweet as Image was, could be so neglectful of her foal. It was certainly a strange turn of events, yet something we had to accept as a very real problem we had to be constantly aware of.
Thank goodness, Image had no problem with her foal, other than she neglected him. He was allowed to nurse and hang with her, but if he fell asleep, she’d walk away without giving him a second thought. Never mind a second thought, she didn’t give him a first! The poor little guy would waken, to find himself all alone. Mama and the others had left him behind. We locked them all up at night to keep the foals safe, but daytime was a bit of a problem.
Sweetpea took to checking on him several times a day, just to be sure he was okay. If his mama left him behind, she would take him out to her, or bring her back to him. That little horse was a big concern for the girlchild, and always on her mind. Then there was the weather.
Weather sometimes blows in unexpectedly. If we know ahead of time that there’s a good potential for a storm blowing through, we call the horses in and shut them into the corrals. Every now and again, we get caught by surprise. This was what happened one day, when both the girlchild and I were inside the house. There was a clap of thunder then the long, rolling grumble that warned of more. One glance at sweetpea told me, she was going to check on Image’s colt.
“Wear a raincoat and take an umbrella,” I sighed with a somewhat amused smile, “No point in getting drenched for no good reason.”
To my surprise, she actually listened, well sort of anyway. Away she ran, raincoat and umbrella in hand. Oh well, at least she had the option of using the rain gear, if and when it started to rain.
Busy doing this and that, I actually jumped at an especially loud, crack of thunder. The sky opened up, and rain fell like a thick curtain. Glancing at the clock, I frowned. How long had it been since she’d run out? It seemed like a long time, but was it? Deciding that I had better go check on her, I grabbed an umbrella and headed out.
As I walked to the back, the downpour tempered to a good rain, and the darkest clouds moved east. I could see Image and her buddies way out in the pasture. To my dismay, there was no black baby by her side. Quickening my step, I hurried to the corral, only to begin giggling under my breath, at the sight that appeared before me. There hiding in the windbreak shelter, were the girlchild and her mare’s black colt. Was sweetpea wearing the raincoat? Of course she wasn’t. It was draped over baby, and the umbrella was held over his little head. Sweetpea was drenched, but her little baby was dry.
“What in the world are you doing?” I laughingly asked, though the answer was clearly obvious.
“Image is way out there, mom,” sweetpea explained, returning my smile, “and he was here, all by himself. He was shivering, and scared, poor baby.”
“I suppose you’re going to stay out here until the rain quits?”
She didn’t have to answer. I knew the answer. Glancing to the west, I could see it was already beginning to clear. Sweetpea wouldn’t leave Danny until it stopped raining. It was how she was. Then she would bring Danny out to Image, or the other way around. As soon as he was a little older, and confident enough to always go to his mother to nurse, he and Image would join the bigger group of mares. Then life for the colt would become better, as Libby, a Morgan mare who adored and tried to steal every foal she saw, was with them. She would make sure, he was nurtured and fussed over. She would act the babysitter for Image, who clearly was the sort of career mare, who had no time to spare for her child. Libby would often babysit all the foals, while the rest of the mares went off for a break away. It was the oddest, yet most interesting thing to see, and she would step in now as well.
Anyway, after the rain stopped, the girlchild left her colt with his mama. She continued to fuss and worry about him as the days went by, and he soon came running, little broom-tail flagged, whenever he saw her. He’s all grown now, yet still the same. Danny simply loves people, especially sweetpea.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB