Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Foal Tails

The Little Ones

Not only did I seek out and rescue horses and ponies that were starved and mistreated, I also bought foals whenever I could, PMU foals. To any who aren’t familiar with what PMU stands for, it’s pregnant mare urine. Back when I was young, the birth control was made using the urine of a mare that was in foal. There are a few months when the mare’s urine is optimum, and it’s collected while the mares stand in long lines in a specialized barn. The foals that result were considered a byproduct without much value. There were a few producers that bred to produce a foal that would have a higher value. Sadly, most didn’t worry about quality or the quantity, of what showed up after eleven months. These foals were sold off rather cheaply, or went to feedlots to be fattened up and sold to meat buyers. This bothered me so much, I tried to seek out the foals and horses that resulted from those farms.
I saw an ad for rather inexpensive weanling foals, and figuring that they were PMU foals, much like little Darren Devil had been, I went to see them. They weren’t on a PMU farm, yet I had strong suspicions that they were from one. There were so many foals, most in a pen of nothing but weanlings, and a few still with their dams. They all looked to be in good shape, the mares shiny from good grass on pasture, the foals frisky and full of life. Most of the foals were about three months old, and I like them to be on their mums until at least four months, six if at all possible. To that end, I arranged for the two foals I chose to be with their dams for a couple more months and paid extra to do so. I would pick them up in the fall.
Fall came along, and I eagerly looked forward to picking up my babies. There was a red appaloosa with four stocking and a lovely blanket on his little rump, as well as a black colt that most assuredly had a good deal of Quarter horse in him. They were both lovely, little critters and I could hardly wait to see how much they’d grown. I had called a couple of weekends beforehand, just to make sure they would be off their dams and ready to go, and was told to pick them up at the father’s farm, instead of where I’d first seen them. When I heard where they now were, I wasn’t very impressed. Her father had a bad reputation for improperly caring for horses, and I became rather concerned. My mother always said to think good thoughts, and things would turn out, but I had serious doubts.
My serious doubts came to life when I caught sight of my foals. They were little but skin over bones. They hadn’t been left on their mothers longer, as I’d paid extra for them to do. It was clear that they’d been pulled off ages ago. For all I knew, the same day I bought them. I was dumbfounded that anyone could do such a thing. There was no one to complain to, no one to vent at. There was only a worker, who apparently knew nothing. I took my babies home and though I made many phone calls, I never was able to unleash my disgust and anger on anyone.
I had the little, walking skeletons inside an old barn, bedded deep and with free choice foal starter available. I made them warm mashes that I worked into their mouths while stroking their throats to encourage swallowing. The first few days were touch and go, but as the days slowly went by, I began to get my hopes up. They were going to make it. Taking care of them wasn’t easy. Despite the fact that they were severely malnourished, they were horribly frightened of me. They didn’t want to be touched, yet I certainly had to touch them. Even worse, the black, which I named Little Bud, had a serious cut on his back leg that definitely had to be seen to. Yes, it was a back leg that was injured. He was frightened, terrified is more like, and he didn’t want me anywhere near him, never mind touching his legs. Still, I had no choice in the matter, and neither did he. I had to wash, dry and slather salve on that back leg of his, then I had to wrap it to keep it clean. It was a battle of epic proportions that I dealt with on a daily basis, until he was healed.
He may have been an incredibly frightened colt when I got him, but by the time he was healed, he was about as sweet and quiet as could be. That serious injury turned into a good thing after all. Because I had to force him to allow me to care for him, he became as quiet as a kitten. After the first few days, he figured out that I made him feel better. His leg felt better. Whenever I showed up, he was fed and watered. He began to look forward to my visits, instead of fearing them.
The other colt, the red Appaloosa, I named Sassy Spot. Though he was equally frightened of me, he came around within a day, thank goodness for that. Dealing with Little Bud was physically exhausting. If I had to deal with two like him, it would’ve been incredibly daunting. Oh, there was also a third foal, a filly I purchased from a local stable. She was a chestnut with a blaze and four stocking that I named Ricki’s Toy, because when I had first seen her, she looked just like a stuffed toy. She was that adorable. Fortunately, she’d been properly handled and gave me no grief at all. I suppose I should mention that everything happened in the winter. I picked up the colts in October, and winter, a very cold winter, fell upon us with a vengeance that year. Yup, it never rains, but it pours, or in my case, snows like crazy.

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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