Sunday, April 30, 2006

Baby Stealing in Idaho

Baby Horses, that is.

When it is within a day or so of the time for a mare to give birth, their nipples usually get kind of a waxy coating. They start lactating and their milk dries and forms the wax. This isn't a foolproof predictive method, but I felt confident that it was going to be soon.
I was right.
The first of three foals to be born this Spring, was born yesterday. He's a beautiful little paint colt. Mom and baby are doing fine NOW, but it was a pretty rough start. Something happened that could have ended his short life.

There are some mares who will steal a baby away from it's mother, actually get between the baby and the real mom and drive her off. The unfortunate end is the baby starves to death because the baby stealers don't have any milk. I'm told that this happens with cattle also.
We know which mares like to do this, so we keep the moms-to-be in separate pastures, away from the other horses.

I went down, in the morning, to check on everyone and I could see that all was not right. Patty, the expectant mom, was running up and down the fence line (barbed wire) and was quite frantic. In the next pasture was Gypsy, the baby stealer, with the New Baby!
I don't know how she got the baby, she might have grabbed him with her teeth when he got too close to the fence. This was very bad, so many things could go wrong. I grabbed a lead rope and went running down there.
As I walked in among them you could feel the excitement about the new arrival. Gypsy was quite frazzled and didn't want to be touched, but I had a secret weapon in my pocket, CARROTS! When she saw those she came over and within a few bites I was able to put the rope around her neck.

Now I needed to do something with her before I could reunite mom and baby. I had to isolate Gypsy by going around barbed wire fence lines, through gates and up to the corrals.
We started off and it was the parade from hell. Lots of bumping and neighing, with many horses feet stomping around. The baby was very confused and not really sure who to follow. I had my hands full with Gypsy and couldn't help him. We had a long walk and as I looked back I saw something that touched my heart.

Diamond, one of the yearlings, had stayed with the baby. She was slowly and quietly showing him how to stay away from the wire and how to go through the gates. I finally got Gypsy put away and now It was time to reunite mom and baby.
I opened the last gate and Patty rushed to her baby's side. It was a beautiful sight. She licked and nuzzled him and gave him his first drink!! It was a nice warm day and after a few drinks he laid down in the soft green grass for a well deserved nap.
Diamond, the hero, didn't want to be separated from the two but we both eventually walked off together, knowing we did a good job .... and Diamond, guess what I have in my pocket... just for You?

Posted by Mrs. Geezer.

What a story! More stressful than having your own. And what a beautiful baby. Darling.
Aw, that's sweet. I didn't know horses would steal babies, but I'm glad the story ends happily. I love horses.
guess what I have in my pocket... just for You?

Ah yes, how many times have I tried that line. Glad to hear it works with horses.
That's probably going to be the best story I'll read all week.
So who is in the picture, the thief or the real mom?
That's Patty, the real mom giving him his first drink.
Her teats were so full of milk that it shot out a 4 foot stream when the baby nuzzled her.
Perhaps Michael would like to comment on that one.

Mrs. Geezer
I seem to recall that People Magazine predicted the Spears/Federline offspring by closely monitoring a waxy nipple coating as well.

Good story.
Thanks for sharing, Mrs. Geezer. That is a great story. I am a sucker for a happy ending.
"Perhaps Michael would like to comment on that one."

Please don't encourage him.
BTW, that's one beautiful baby. I used to work on my uncle's quarter horse ranch when I was a teen and I can attest to the fact that horses can be the most endearing/vexing animals God ever created.
Is that a carrot in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
Wow! That post on horses brought back memories. You have a wonderful blog with great stories and humor. I just spent a couple hours being entertained and informed. Thanks.
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