My husband, whose Superman cape is presently hanging in the closet while he lounges in his Lazy Boy has a pretty in-depth resume’. Among his many talents include cowboss, gourmet chef, drumming dynamo, and husband extraordinaire. But most recently, he has added foal nanny. The ranch he works for decided to buy a horse. A horse who happened to be pregnant. The horse nanny position was assigned to J-Dub. So he’s been watching a bred mare for quite some time now checking her for signs of birthing. Normally, a horse would have a foal and raise it in the pasture and life would go on without any interference from man.
But this mare is a bit on the high-end, with good breeding for a cutting horse. The hopes are that the baby will have good cutting horse tendencies and make a nice investment.
It’s a gamble. There’s probably better odds betting 13 black with a spin of a roulette wheel. But I like to play it safe anyway.
Due to the investment of this animal, instead of putting her out into a pasture to have a baby, my husband built her a nice little stall and has been horse-sitting.
Much like Prissy in Gone With the Wind, J-Dub “don’t know nothing ’bout birthing no babies.” Except cows. Who are put in the pasture to calve.
The reason he must watch this horse closely is the very small window of time in which the foal needs to be “imprint trained”.
Much like Prissy in Gone With the Wind, I don’t know nothing about imprint training, but this is how I understand it. As soon as the foal hits the ground, before it even stands up, a human begins working with it in order to imprint its brain with certain techniques to enable it to be trained easier later in life.
Last Saturday night we left town for a music festival in a nearby town believing that she was still 24 hours away from foaling. Some other expert in horse gestation and delivery said if she wasn’t waxing (whatever that means) then we’d probably be okay until Sunday.
But when we returned on Sunday afternoon to check on the little mama, she had a little horsie by her side.
Although we were late and weren’t sure when the baby was born, J-Dub began his work.
He tied up Bobby, the momma, to get her out of the way and keep himself out of danger.
Then began his newly acquired knowledge of imprint training on the little baby girl.
Mama pawed the ground, knickered, and kicked up quite a stink, and some dirt, while her baby was taken from her and poked, prodded, pestered, and primed.
The idea of imprint training is to establish a bond between the baby and a human and to get it used to being handled to desensitize it for later training. J-Dub laid the baby down on its side and rubbed it all over. He picked up its feet for when it needs to be shod, rubbed under its tail so it won’t spook if a rope rubs it there, flexed its legs, stuck his finger in every orifice on its body and rubbed it all over until it was calm. Then he rolled it over and did everything again on the other side.
Then the two were reunited. Four days later, Bobby the mama, was hauled to a nearby town to be bred back to foal again in about a year. When the baby is weaned, she will be sent to a trainer and hopefully her imprint training will have taken effect.
J-Dub spent all that time building a nice little horse stall, equipped with pine shavings for a bed, and Bobby didn’t even use it. Here’s the afterbirth laying in the horse pen. Isn’t fascinating? It looks like a big oily rag or something.
I just had to throw that in there.
You can thank me later.