We have a new foal! This is actually the second foal of 2021, but the first one has not ventured out of the marsh yet so we don’t know anything about him/her and don’t have photos.
However, this little filly has been keeping us on our toes since she was born early this morning (Monday, March 29.) There are three horses in the harem – mom Imp, father Dean, and another mare named Autumn.
We have named the foal Billie (B names this year).
Everything went fine with the birth, but then Autumn decided that Billie was hers and would not let Imp near her. Billie bonded with Autumn, and was trying to nurse even though there was no milk. We observed them for a while, but it became clear that we needed to do something to make sure Billie could nurse. Autumn was becoming increasingly more aggressive towards Imp and things were escalating quickly.
After conferring with our vet, we decided the best plan of action would be to get Imp and Billie separated from Autumn so that the pair had some time to bond with each other. We were going to sedate Autumn via a dart gun, but got lucky and she inadvertently separated herself by going over a fence that Billie couldn’t get past.
Our herd manager got Billie over to Imp and she immediately began nursing. We kept them separated for most of the day, and allowed Autumn to rejoin them late this afternoon. Things seem to have diffused some, and Autumn was far less aggressive towards Imp this evening. Billie still seems to think that Autumn is her mom, but at least she now knows where the milk comes from. As long as Autumn continues to allow her to nurse off Imp, it should be fine. But it’s still a very precarious situation.
We will be monitoring this family closely every day until we are comfortable that they have worked out their issues. It is EXTREMELY important that they are not stressed or harassed in any way. If Billie is disrupted while nursing, a precarious situation could become catastrophic in a heartbeat.
Autumn’s aggression increases with stress, and if she is pushed back into uber protection mode she may not let Billie continue to nurse. She will also undoubtedly become aggressive towards any person who gets too close to the foal (which is a good thing!) so for your own safety, you need to keep your distance.
It would be great if this foal and her family were out of the public eye, like Baby 1. But they are not, so we are pleading with everyone to stay away from them. The next two weeks are going to be very busy and crowded due to Spring Break and we are quite concerned for the safety of this foal. If you love the horses, the best thing you can do for Billie is pretend like she isn’t there. This family needs time to bond and figure their harem dynamics out. And Billie needs to be able to nurse when she can without disruption. It is literally a life or death situation.
Billie is strong! She swam across the canal when she was only a couple hours old, is nursing like a champ when she can, and has figured out how those long legs work. She is a fighter, and it would be a shame if we have to intervene simply because people couldn’t give them some space. Autumn’s hormones may yet get the better of her and we might have to step in anyway; that we can’t control. But there are some things that we, as humans, CAN control, like keeping our distance and being respectful of this delicate situation. So let’s do everything we can to keep them wild and free!