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May 22, 2012: Little Horse, Big Plans

Our friend Steve Rubenstein once suggested that I use the above as a book title. For now, it’s a chapter title – the story began on May 6, and will conclude at the summer’s end.

This summer is sure different than last summer. Last summer we were constantly on the move, and this summer we are rooted. I’ve recently discovered that one can’t go far when they have a two-week old foal on their property and limited space.

Hrimfara needs to be exercised, fed, and watered three times a day. This is a huge

Steve Rubenstein
Steve Rubenstein: Big horse, little plans

time commitment. I’m well aware that this could have been an even larger time commitment. And thus far, having a foal around has not been a financial drain. We got lucky cost-wise—we were able to return the milk replacer to Animal Food Warehouse, and the IgG or colostrum replacer to Dr. Wellington.

Prior to the birth, Pete and I didn’t discuss what our financial limit would be, should Hrimfara or Signy need veterinary care. The very real prospect of having to spend thousands of dollars in order to keep a sickly foal alive, with no guarantee of a good outcome, was daunting. I cannot speak for Pete, but I couldn’t bring myself to go there. However, I ought to have been able to go there, for being able to do the math prior to a risky outcome is what being a responsible animal owner is, or should be all about.

I’m going to hop up on my well-worn soap box, and say that those who are thinking about breeding their mare should first do the math, taking into account all that can go wrong. If this means having a come to Jesus talk with one’s veterinarian, so be it.

As importantly, those thinking about breeding their mares should, before taking action, come up with a long term game plan and take into account what this foal will later be used for, and how its training will complement this objective.

Of course, we do have a plan. Hrimmi is going to be a trail horse. To this end, we’ve begun her training by taking her for twice-daily walks. For example, tonight Pete walked Signy, and Hrimfara came along. And I rode Tinni. Hrimmi and Tinni interacted some, with the older horse nudging the younger one’s butt. Signy wasn’t at all bothered by this. The wise old mare knows that Tinni is a wise old gelding, and won’t harm her offspring. I’m not going to get complacent about this, for you just never know what might happen.

Back to the plan – I’ll back Hrimmi when she’s four, and not before. If it appears that she’s not ready physically or mentally, I’ll wait another year. I’m in no hurry. I have three other riding horses. But it’s good to think ahead. In our case, knowing the outcome is partially why we are already working so hard at making Hrimmi trail savvy.

Had Signy not been pregnant, and had Pete not been turned down for a sabbatical, the story that I’m now telling on a daily basis would be far different. I’m actually okay with this story as it now is. We’re lucky that everything went okay two weeks previously. But next year, I’d like to begin working on Part II of Tolting the Great Divide.

Next: 166. 05/24/12: Little Horse, Big Plans, Part II