Saturday, November 14, 2015



The day I learned about nurse mares and nurse mare foals was the day I met Dinky, originally named Cole at the local fair. It was one of the hottest days on record and Dinky with his friend Lucky (another nurse mare foal) were in a small enclosure in the sun. He was frightened, nippy, and yet curious at the same time.

His entire demeanor spoke of his fear, loneliness, desperation and needed to be loved and safe, yet he had no idea how to achieve these things.

I will never forget that day, for it followed me as the image of him did not leave me, but spurred me to know more and to take him home, cure his loneliness and fears. The adoption was not difficult, but the days, weeks, years that followed as he grew and developed into a beautiful horse were challenging.

Many days and nights filled, with his desperation to understand what it was to be a horse. How to get the love he needed and to learn his purpose, there remained a sense of his inability to understand what either the other horses or humans around him expected of him.

The anger I first felt about the treatment of nurse mares and nurse mare foals blossomed into a passion of mine, to tell the story of Dinky. I hoped it would enable others to understand what a horse feels and that they do feel, think, and are not only beautiful creatures. But treasures for us to learn our humanity and the ability to bond with others. For it is in learning to understand animals and other humans and empathize with them that we find the ability to sympathize with all of life.

 As a child looks to first its parents, than its peers, so do animals and horses. When you take a baby from its mother, it will look for someone to cling to, a role model to teach and follow. Nurse mare foals are no different, except that they are without an adult of their species to nurture and guide them. They cannot survive on their own any more than a human baby could.

It is a heartless practice and one that in my opinion hurts the horses and our humanity. Inflicting needless suffering on both the elite mare, the nurse mare, and both foals. All of which become fodder for the human desire to achieve and are proof of their greed. Whether it be the next ribbon or race horse that will come out of the elite mare, it diminishes her worth as a fellow creature. The nurse mare becomes nothing but a breeding machine, her foal tossed aside as worthless. These glorious animals with love, brains, heart, and soul become lost.

A few like Kaylee, out of the thousands born a year get rescued, some go to good homes and are not bought and sold again and again after their first owners get tired of them because they are no longer small furry babies. The rest become cordovan leather or die soon after their first breath.

Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal took me three years to write and more revisions than I can count. First I had to rid myself of my anger over the plight of these small creatures.

I had to let go of my ego and immerse myself in his heart, mind, fears, becoming one with him.

Many will consider it strange that I say I became one with him, but I did, Dinky told me his story, it filled my mind and heart day in and day out. I lived it with him as he grew.

And so Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal, was written, through his memories of those times and places that held sway over him and inhibited him from learning to become the wonderful horse he is today.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Today’s world appears to me to be an impatient one. A society where so much is made to throw away and few wish to wait for gratification, instead everything must be now! There is too much importance on things and money and less on those things money can’t buy. A hug, smile, the life of an animal.
Instead too many times they too are bred to be tossed out, to be bait for a dog fight or used as breeding machines. Sometimes I wonder how much we are missing in this throwaway world we live in.
Dinky is a nurse mare foal; he was bred to get his mother in milk that was his only purpose. In the elite horse world, a nurse mare foal has no other purpose. Some of these foals are tossed on the side of the road as if they were garbage. Too many nurse mare foals are sold to the tanner, to make cordovan leather for couches and shoes or pony bags to adorn our homes and bodies until the next trend comes along. Some of them like Dinky are lucky, and a nurse mare foal rescue saves them.
But what happens to this little foal after the rescue has nursed it back to health? Where does it go, who takes care of it, teaches it, and loves it?
Have you ever wondered how this little foal learns what it is to be a horse or if they live in confusion, never learning their place or if they are a human or a horse?
Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal took me nearly three years to write, it was difficult to learn to read the language of a horse. To bond so deeply with them that both of you understand each other, at least as much as any two species can.

If you believe that foals, colts, and horses have emotions, thoughts, and fears of their own should we take this cause on, highlight their plight and force the horse world to change their practice. Perhaps as some believe they are just an animal to be used and tossed aside after they we humans are done with them? If so Dinky’s story and the plight of the nurse mare and her foal will mean little to you.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


“Chrome, Connella, I remembered Little Jimmy today,” Dinky said excitedly.

“Who is Little Jimmy, Dinky,” Connella asked curiously

“Little Jimmy, lived at the old stable with me. I didn’t see him much at first, for her was very sick, Connella. We all overheard the women discussing whether he would make it or not.” Dinky replied.

“Why does that make you so excited, Dinky?” Chrome inquired.

“Well, I guess it’s because Little Jimmy had it so much worse than the rest of us. Even worse than Kaylee did, and he made it, Chrome. For a long time, he had a tube stuck on his face, and you could see his ribs through his skin, for he had no coat on a part of his sides.
Sometimes, at night we would hear people moving around in his stall and heard them as they helped him stand up and held him as they poured milk down his tube. The tube went right through his nose; it looked like an awful way to eat.” Dinky stated.

“Oh my! was all Connella could say at first. “How
ever did you find out that he lived and was okay Dinky?”

“I overheard Marta, Christine, and April discussing it the other day. I have been racking my brain ever since to remember what he looked like the last time I saw him. I remembered the first time, but not the rest, things moved too fast at that time and then I came here.
They said he grew up to be a beautiful Palomino and was a trail horse living in his forever home with people who loved him, just like Ken and Marta love us.”

“That makes me happy too, said Chrome, for you were quite small and sickly when you came here and look at you now.”

Interrupting, Connella said. “Well, that just goes to show how love, care, and faith can work wonders now doesn’t it?”

“It sure does, Connella, you see Dinky, in some ways you nurse mare foals are stronger than the rest of us. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t born to one of the human’s so called ‘elite breeds.’ What a lot of nonsense that is anyway, why do they believe the bloodline makes the horse?”

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Each year over forty-thousands foals are born of these there is no record of how many of them are in need of a nurse mare or how many nurse mare foals are born. In order to bring a mare to milk, she must come to foal, the byproduct and by many called a ‘junk foal.’ They have no other purpose; many are sold to tanners, where their hides make pony bags, cordovan leather for couches and shoes. Some get rescued, our Dinky is a nurse mare foal, he is one of the lucky ones, and he had a chance at life and a home.

al. In the world of the horse industry, the foal of a nurse mare is a necessary
But to achieve that, Dinky had to live the first few months of his life, with the loss of his mother, fear for his future and the lack of understanding of his place in the world. He had no mother or adult horses to teach him how to be a horse. Though at least he had his fellow nurse mare foals and caring humans around him to help him through some of the roughest times of his life.
To many in this world hold life (except their own) worthless and animals are dumb creatures without soul, feelings, thoughts, or heart. It is sad, for one only has to watch the interactions between any animal to see so clearly that it is not so. Animals think, feel, care, are curious about their surroundings and recognize friends and family.

I am not going to tell you that raising Dinky was or is an easy task. It wasn’t and isn’t, but he is worth every moment. He came to us at about five months old, so thin it broke our hearts, needy, frightened and in need of comfort. As with many who adopt nurse mare foals, the tendency to pamper and comfort was there. Only loosely training, for the sweetness and sadness of this little foal touches one's heart so deeply.
Alas, many come to the realization that they made a mistake, treating this small foal as if it were a puppy when it becomes five hundred pounds or more. Ken and I were fortunate, we had some experience with large horses and this headstrong young colt though a handful began his real training.
Dinky has a stubborn streak, we had no wish to break his spirit, nor stem his curiosity, but he needed to know that we were Alpha to him. It was imperative that he learn this for everyone’s safety and his happiness.
The first few times he tipped over the wheelbarrow full of manure, attempting to push it was cute, the fifteenth time it was not. Much of what he does and did remains cute and funny though he has learned over time that there are times and places for it.
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about Dinky, Lucky, Kaylee, Little Jimmy and many of the other nurse mare foals I met. I will write about their antics, hardships, and where they are today.

Stay tuned for the early days.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review of Dinky: The Nurse Mare's Foal

Every so often, I come across a book that strongly pulls at me to read; Dinky was one of these. It is not an easy task for a writer to keep her reader’s interest when the story is written in first person. Ms. Bishop’s script with Dinky as the narrator of his story is exceptional. I loved this story – it is educational, emotionally engaging, insightfully written and so very rich in detail.
A real-life foal, the author brought Dinky vividly to life for me, from page one. Ms. Bishop’s interpretations of Dinky’s thoughts during the initial months of his life were so heart-wrenching to read yet, from the beginning, I found myself captivated by Dinky’s spirit. Despite the incessant cruelty done to Dinky by humans – he was always famished, underfed, ignored and frightened – there is resilience in his nature that commanded my respect. After reading the synopsis, I expected to be angry, to cry when Dinky, a ‘junk foal,’ told his story of being taken from his mother, a mare caught up in man’s cruel practice of breeding her only for milk to nourish a high-dollar mare’s foal. It was almost unbearable, reading of the cruelty done to Dinky during his first few months of life – the overwhelming fear for his fate: being sold to a meat market or to tanners, or being adopted. In the words of Dinky: “I wasn’t prepared to believe in the possibility of good things.”

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Praise for Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal Marta Moran Bishop has lovingly created the real-life poignant tale of, Dinky, The Nurse Mare’s Foal. Narrated by the central character, Dinky, readers will be given a window into the heartbreaking life that can await a Nurse Mare Foal’s. It is a powerful story highlighting the inhumane practice of a foal being bred for the sole purpose of producing milk in the mare, so she can nourish a high-dollar mare’s foal. Young Dinky’s battle to survive begins, when he is taken to a farm where the probability of being sold to the meat market or the tanners, so his hide could be used for leather goods is high. Dinky is frightened and alone. His only chance to be free to live and enjoy life is to be adopted by some caring humans. Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal is an immensely satisfying book which evokes our senses and touches us deeply. Stuart Ross McCallum, author of Beyond My Control: One Man’s Struggle with Epilepsy, Seizure, Surgery, and Beyond.
The Nurse Mare and Her Foals The elite of the horse world are the high-dollar mares. They are show animals or racing animals, bringing high dollars for their foals because they have a history of excellence and winning. For them, time is money and it's important that the mare be kept busy birthing instead of spending weeks nursing her offspring. That job is given to a nurse mare. Much like the old-time wet nurse employed by wealthy mothers throughout history, the nurse mare is of uncertain or unimportant bloodlines and incapable of bringing substantial income to her owner. In order to nurse the important foal, she must have recently given birth and produce the necessary milk. The question is: What becomes of the nurse mare's foal? By many called a “junk foal,” this unfortunate newborn is considered a necessary evil, a disposable byproduct. The cost of trying to nurse this foal until it is weaned is high, so often the “junk foal” is killed outright and disposed of. Sometimes it's shipped off to auction and bought by manufacturers who use its hide to make expensive bags or shoes. Whatever its fate, the nurse mare's foal is considered an unimportant nuisance. The nurse mare’s foal is usually taken from its mother anytime from one day to a week after birth instead of the ten to twelve weeks that foals commonly nurse. The times vary, depending on when the high-dollar mare foals. Generally the nurse mare is shipped off to the farm to nurture and foster the high-priced foal. The horse industry benefits from this barbaric practice because the high-dollar mare gets back in shape more quickly, so she can show well and invite more offers for her offspring. While some stables allow the mare three to four weeks to recuperate after giving birth, many are sent to the stallion for rebreeding within seven to ten days of giving birth. There are Equine Rescue Leagues that have spent their time, energy, and money to help the rejected foals. Without them, more of these small lives would be lost. Most of the rescuers are knowledgeable, but there are a few well-intentioned people who want to save the newborns without any knowledge of horses. In some cases these organizations succeed almost by accident, and in others they make matters worse for the animals in their care. Unfortunately these groups sometimes rely on unscrupulous people, self-proclaimed experts who have their own hidden agendas. The lucky foal is adopted by people who know and love horses or who go out of their way to learn the needs and care of this fragile baby animal. Too many are adopted by men and women who know little or nothing about horses, let alone the unique care these foals require, and the new owners soon become overwhelmed. As a result, some foals are bought and sold several times before they reach maturity. Others die from lack of proper nutrition and proper parasite control. The nurse mare's foal unfortunate enough to fall into the wrong hands usually grows up with multiple deformities and bone development problems. Some have social development issues, never learning how to be a horse or understanding the role of a horse with a human companion. This book is the story of one nurse mare's foal and its fight for survival. Marta Moran Bishop and Toni Boyle