By Patti Brooks
With New England desperate to leave winter behind, it makes me think back to foaling season on our Connecticut Morgan horse farm. On any given year, we expected five to ten foals.
It was early June this particular year, and all but one old mare, Dutch, had foaled. Because the grass was sweet and the breezes gentle, Dutch spent 24/7 in a small pasture, with a shelter, easily seen from the house and barn. Dutch wasn’t due for another ten days.
About 2:00 a.m., our young daughter, Trisha, knocks on our door.
“What is it?” I ask, hoping it’s something I can solve without fully waking up.
“Nera had her baby and is running all around.”
Well, that was easy because Nera was a very old mare who hadn’t foaled in years. She has free range of the farm.
“Go back to bed, Trisha.”
Unfortunately Trisha comes back with the same concern.
Sigh. Could I check this out without getting dressed?
I go to the door and sure enough, the old mare is galloping between the house and the barn with a new foal trying to keep up. My mind sorts through the possibilities. Dutch must have foaled early. But why does Nera have the foal?
This would take both getting dressed as well as getting my husband up. Grabbing a halter, we hurry out of the house into a noisy night, what with Nera’s frantic running, other mares calling out in concern and a thunder storm moving in. We hurry to Dutch’s pasture, forming a plan as we run.
I catch Dutch up and head for the barn, with the mare screaming for her foal. Nera is making another pass toward the barn. My husband stands in the drive, letting Nera slip through and tackling the foal. (He later said he had never felt a foal’s heart pound so forcefully.) He picks her up and follows Dutch and me into a stall.
Dutch clearly said to her foal: “Don’t leave me like that.” And the foal clearly said: “Where’s my mom?”
After a good half hour of convincing the foal that Dutch was truly her mom and her food source, we figured out what had happened.
Nera, making her rounds on the farm, stopped to visit with Dutch and stayed with her as she lay down to foal. But....when the foal got up, she got up on Nera’s side of the fence and said, “Mama!” Nera took off. Not my kid. She was finished with having needy little foals to look after. And the foal raced after her.
All the Morgans we raised carried the “Trijas” prefix. This little one, who spent the first moments of her life running while a thunder storm brewed, was the easiest to name: Trijas Tempest.