Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Dinky came to us undernourished, full of parasites, needy and looked 2 months younger than his 5. His first night at our home he spent it crying, kept me and Chrome and Connella awake all night. I must say Chrome and Connella were not happy with him the next day. But he learned and the next night and day were better for him. He is now a happy healthy nearly 15 hand yearling. Plays with Chrome and Connella and pesters them all the time. He still has a stubborn streak about learning lessons but is very smart and does learn.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
All alone is the mare,
With none around to care.
So afraid and alone,
No place to call home.
Pulled away from her herd,
Not even a jaybird.
To keep her alright,
In this dark moonlit night
The full moon and stars lit the April night so brightly that the mare could see the silhouettes of horses far off in the other fields. She would have joined them, but the fences were high and many, her belly heavy with the kicking foal. She had known all day that tonight would be the night her foal would be born, she had been off her feed and cranky the day before. So it was not a surprise when they separated her from the rest of the herd after dinner. Yesterday had been warm for early April, although now she could smell the rain coming in. She hoped it would keep the men away for a few extra hours, enabling her to have more time with the new baby. It would be born soon she thought, feeling the changes in her body as she stood in the cold predawn breeze, alone with no herd to help protect them from the men.
The grass in the pasture was still heavy with frost and the mist was getting thicker maybe it would hide her and her baby. She watched the clouds taking over, darkening and hiding the stars and moon as they slowly covered the sky.
Oh how she wanted her baby, to teach it the ways of the herd, to help it to grow strong and beautiful. To nuzzle and love her own, yet she knew that this one would be taken away as all the others had been before.
She remembered her first foal, the hopelessness and fear as it was torn from her side, a day later. She still felt regret for not teaching that first foal so early in life what it would need to survive, but that was many babies ago. Smarter now she knew the time would short to teach this one enough to survive before it was stripped from her side by the “men.” She would be drugged, tricked and forced to accept some other mare’s foal. And her milk would help that other small life to survive and grow strong.
She didn’t understand why someone else’s foal was of more importance than hers. Nor did she understand how the other mare could want someone else to nurture her baby. This was not the way of the herd or the natural order of things. In nature there were times when a mare died and her foal was nursed by another mare, this was not the same. She had overheard the men calling her babies “junk foals,” as if they had no importance and couldn’t understand why humans could think this way, her babies were as beautiful and smart as the foals she nursed.
She would fight again to keep her baby, maybe this time succeeding, most likely not. Either way their hours together would be few, so the teaching would need to begin immediately. The mare could only hope it would be enough to help it survive, never knowing for sure if it had. Still she was determined to nourish, to love and to teach this baby all that was possible in the little time they would have before the men came.
Sometimes in dark moments her thoughts would turn to the lost babies wondering if any of them had lived and flourished. If they had grown up strong and known love or died without any chance of survival. Soon they would consider her of no use; downtrodden, past her prime, unable to bear young or produce the milk these men wanted for the other foals. Maybe she would be lucky and be put out to pasture, more likely her fate would be the auction or the meat market.
Heart racing, sweat pouring from her, the foal began its journey down the birth canal. The noise was deafening, the foal could feel the stress and fear of his mother, her body cramping and constantly repositioning, the tightening of her muscles as they pushed him out of the warm, dark haven he had been in for so many months. First the front hooves, then head and shoulders broke through into the cold April air, he took first breath. Soon only his back hooves remained in the birth canal and both mare and foal lay there resting connected yet apart.
Eager now to learn what the new smells were he pulled himself along the ground away from his mother’s body, head and neck moving rapidly to try to catch the sights and smells of this new world.
As she gazed at him she thought how beautiful he was all black with a white clover blaze on his forehead. Wanting only to love, to feed and to nuzzle him, but knowing their time together would be short the lessons began. She stood near, nuzzling, talking and teaching about each new sight and smell, imparting as much love, strength and knowledge as possible to help him survive the hard times to come.
Cold, wet and shivering she licked him clean and watched for predators. “Your name is Dinky, you are beautiful and smart, and you must listen to me if you are to survive. First you must learn to stand.” Dinky put his legs under him and tried to rise, he fell, tried again. His small legs just weren’t ready to hold his weight. It was many attempts, and many more falls before he finally stood.
Slowly he felt a gnawing sensation in his belly? It seemed to get stronger the closer he was to his mother. Searching for the source of the smell that made his belly hurt, he finally located it and took his first drink of his mother’s milk.
Dawn broke, even through the heavy cloud cover the bright light hurt Dinky’s eyes they were still used to the darkness of the womb. Sensing the stress and smelling his mothers fear as the sun came up; he looked around. He could not see or smell anything that could cause this. He could see the brown fences, the white of the frost covering grass of the pasture, and heard the birds chirping overhead all new and delightful to his growing curiosity. Hungry again he fed while his mother continued to teach him to understand what each new thing was.
She told him the ways of herd, how they grazed and played in the fields, that it was the Alpha mare that would lead the herd to the best food and the Alpha male that would protect his herd from predators. She sent his mind pictures of strange bugs, and told him which ones would bite and which would only pester. She taught which things were good for horses to eat and which ones would make him sick. She told him which creatures were predators and which were friends to horses.
His young brain took it all in. These things didn’t yet make sense to him; he listened knowing somehow that it was important for him to learn. Sometimes his mind would wander and with a nudge or a nip his mother would make him listen again.
Pushing him to eat even when he wasn’t yet hungry, all the while telling him how smart and beautiful he was, and that he would grow strong and tall, “you will learn to survive Dinky if you listen to me. You will find a home and love, remember that and hold on to it during the hard times,” she told him over and over again.
The frost was gone from the grass leaving a sweet wet smell behind. He liked the smell. He didn’t understand why the smell of the grass and the sun growing higher made his mother smell of fear and terror. She was constantly watchful now her head moving rapidly back and forth, imparting far too much for his young mind to absorb. He saw in her mind a picture of strange two legged creatures coming and knew that was what she was afraid of.
It was late afternoon and Dinky had eaten many times when he felt his mothers fear getting stronger. What was about to happen, when would it happen? Pacing around him attempting to shelter, she nuzzled and licked giving love, yet the smell of fear was so strong it made her milk taste like acid, not sweet like it had been in the predawn light.
Far off in the distance she looked toward the large brown block that stood beyond the fence. Not truly understanding the source of her fear, he knew it would come from there?
It was dusk when he saw small two legged creatures that looked almost like the ants coming from the direction of the brown block. Was this the source of her fear, his little mind asked himself? As they came closer he could smell them, it was not at all like mother, they smelled of meat, cigarettes and coffee mixed with last night’s beer. Were they the predators that she had told him were a danger to horses? What and who were they? Gone was the nuzzling and sweet smell of mother. Moving in front of him, ears back, fluffed up ready for a fight, she smelled of danger and fear.
The movements of the “men” sounded like thunder as they drew closer; clumsily they walked on those two legs of theirs. One of them was carrying something long and black, what was it? The closer they came the bigger they began to appear and the smaller his mother seemed to become. Dejected yet still ready to fight for her foal, she puffed up in desperation, this one could be her last chance, he was beautiful and smart and she would fight to the death if the men would let her. She wanted to keep this one he was really special.
The grass had dried, the moon was coming up and Dinky’s belly ached with hunger again. The mare pushed him behind her not allowing him to feed or nuzzle. Why didn’t his mother let him eat? Was it those smelly two legged creatures coming toward them? They were almost upon them when she ran at them looking like a wild demon, not frightened at all, ready to fight for her foal and the chance to keep him or die trying.
One of the men held up the long black thing he was carrying and out of it came a loud horrific noise which frightened the two so much they turned to flee.
But where was his mother? Dinky looked back and watched as she fell slowly to the ground. Trembling with fear Dinky started to make his way back to her side. What had happened to mother was she dead? No her chest still rose and fell and she looked at him, her eyes filled with sadness. Dinky would never forget the love and pain he saw in those eyes as they looked at each other for the next to last time.
The men picked Dinky up and carried him further away from his mother. Putting a rope around his neck, they held him. He heard his mother whinnying and crying as one of the men held a small black thing in his hand close to his mouth. Talking in a rough voice he said “come in we are ready.” Terrified Dinky tried to fight his way back to his mother, what was happening to him and his mother?
He heard a loud growling noise and saw a monster coming into view over the horizon. It wasn’t walking not on two legs or four; it wasn’t flying like the birds or crawling on the ground like the worms and bugs that Dinky had noticed earlier. It was rolling on wheels, there were six of them. It had a horrible smell of diesel and oil, fear and death, and it was coming closer and closer. Finally the monster stopped. Still crying; Dinky was picked up and tossed onto and into the back of the trailer, he continued to try to fight his way back to his mother, but was too small. As the doors closed him into the trailer he watched his mother get slowly to her feet, dejected, head hanging low, still crying for him. Terrified and alone he cried.