Our first full winter of horse rescue saw the natural formation of the “Baby Band”, a group of four young horses that all found their way here in order to grow up. Casper and Heidi, 1 and 2 years old respectively, were owner surrenders in the summer of 2009, from a nice family that took them in to help them. Beautiful appy’s both, they were shy and very attached to each other. They were soon introduced to Finn, also just 12 or 15 months old, and Finn immediately appointed himself their protector from the larger, older herd. (The story of Finn’s rescue from auction is well documented in another blog!). Casper and Finn started sparring and playing and personalities emerged. I began to understand the reference to ‘horse play’ that I heard as a child when being too rough! So great to see baby horses rear and kick out with exuberance.
In November, we welcomed a last minute edition, the appy colt Dasher, also about 16 months old. Dash arrived via Equine Rescue Resource, as a part of a sheriff’s seizure, and he had been bounced around a bit. Dash is a very reserved dark appy with a white blanket and he exuded that nervousness of a horse without a home. Meeting the other three babies began to change that, and Dash began to join into the ‘reindeer games’, tearing thru snow and mud and water, even once sliding across a huge sheet of ice, looking as surprised as I was at this occurrence. So the four babies, Finn, Casper, Heidi and Dash became our first baby band, the Class of 2010.
Winter is a nice quiet time on the farm, with long hours hanging out in huge run in sheds, or stalls, punctuated by snowfights and play. A nice time to grow and bond. A year almost has passed, four seasons of troublemaking by the young group. There was a break-out or two, and squabbles over hay piles, the usual stuff that builds character. Casper, the clown of the herd, ripped out his teeth and had to be stitched back together, and hand fed horse soup for six weeks, creating a very strong bond with humans. Dash mellowed and learned to belong, and befriended the baby ‘Roo, after watching over his birth, to become a loving big brother for a time. Heidi emerged as our own ‘Buddah horse’, never picking a fight or giving ears to anyone, always ready with a nicker and a smile. And Finn, learning a ‘band stallions ways’ under the training of the mustang Whisper, rose up to start leading the band himself, at barely 2 1/2 years old. He is quite amazing, how mature and calm he is for such a young horse. I guess being a leader is something you are born with and hopefully that is nurtured to fullness, like with our Finn. Different personalities, all allowed to grow in their own way, given space and love and the healthy environment of a horse herd to live with.
We will soon be saying goodbye to Casper and Heidi, who are moving to live with friends of ours nearby. This will be hard but is the way of things, as the pair has matured and will do well breaking in new humans to horse ways. And this summer, we have also welcomed new young horses, forming the baby band, Class of 2011. The baby Aggie (sometimes called Jo-jo, or the little Minx) just turned one year old, and has been with us for four months now after arriving on death’s door from a neglectful owner. She is a red and white paint filly who is certain to be the lead mare, albeit pint sized. Little Noah, less then a year old, is a tall and sweet gangly TB colt who is just being introduced to the herd. And with them is Jude, a beautiful creamello two year old who was saved from slaughter. I hear that an appy colt is on the way, so our baby band this winter may yet number four horses again. Such a joy to watch them and such a joy to be able to just let them be horses. Funny to me that people don’t like to adopt them until they are older, their behavior and character is formed when they are young, and they are SO CUTE! I will be selfish until then and enjoy the babies myself. Our little secret.