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. “However 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.