Each year over forty-thousands foals are born of these there is no record of how many of them are in need of a nurse mare or how many nurse mare foals are born. In order to bring a mare to milk, she must have a foal. In the world of the horse industry, the foal of a nurse mare is a necessary byproduct and by many called a ‘junk foal.’ They have no other purpose; many are sold to tanners, where their hides make pony bags, cordovan leather for couches and shoes. Some get rescued, our Dinky is a nurse mare foal, he is one of the lucky ones, and he had a chance at life and a home.
But to achieve that, Dinky had to live the first few months of his life, with the loss of his mother, fear for his future and the lack of understanding of his place in the world. He had no mother or adult horses to teach him how to be a horse. Though at least he had his fellow nurse mare foals and caring humans around him to help him through some of the roughest times of his life.
To many in this world hold life (except their own) worthless and animals are dumb creatures without soul, feelings, thoughts, or heart. It is sad, for one only has to watch the interactions between any animal to see so clearly that it is not so. Animals think, feel, care, are curious about their surroundings and recognize friends and family.
I am not going to tell you that raising Dinky was or is an easy task. It wasn’t and isn’t. He came to us at about five months old, so thin it broke our hearts, needy, frightened and in need of comfort. As with many who adopt nurse mare foals, the tendency to pamper and comfort was there. Only loosely training, for the sweetness and sadness of this little foal touches one's heart so deeply.
Alas, many come to the realization that they made a mistake, treating this small foal as if it were a puppy when it becomes five hundred pounds or more. Ken and I were fortunate, we had some experience with large horses and this headstrong young colt though a handful began his real training.
Dinky has a stubborn streak, we had no wish to break his spirit, nor stem his curiosity, but he needed to know that we were Alpha to him. It was imperative that he learn this for everyone’s safety and his happiness.
The first few times he tipped over the wheelbarrow full of manure, attempting to push it was cute, the fifteenth time it was not. Much of what he does and did remains cute and funny though he has learned over time that there are times and places for it.
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about Dinky, Lucky, Kaylee, Little Jimmy and many of the other nurse mare foals I met. I will write about their antics, hardships, and where they are today.
Stay tuned for the early days.