The Importance of Friends

Since having Indy, I swear time has gone by faster than ever.  One minute, he was this gangly little thing, now, seemingly in the blink of an eye, he’s almost 8 months old, 14.2 hands, and a little horse.  That’s what he is now, a small horse.  It’s hard to call him a foal, or a baby, or a weanling now that is he bigger than all ponies and some horses at the barn!

Shady & Indy (28).JPG
I had a hunch from the beginning that he was going to be big…

I thought I had everything planned out for him.  First off, I should know better right there.  Nothing goes as planned with horses.

I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find Indy the right place to have friends.  When he was 2 months old I started looking for a new barn. The barn where he was born was a great setup, with an in and out stall that had a large, grass paddock attached. There was a fenced in ring and lots of trails.  But, most importantly, it was lacking was friends for Indy.  There were two older mares there, but that was it.

I won’t get into how hard it was to find an appropriate facility.  One with potential friends, safe fencing, and within a reasonable distance from my home.  I was beginning to get desperate when I finally found a facility that boarded broodmares and their foals.

It wasn’t much of a riding facility, but what mattered most at the time was Indy.  I wanted the weaning experience to be as low stress as possible, given that it is a stressful time in his life.  I did a night time weaning first; he had his own stall at night then went out in the field with Shady during the day.  I feel this really helped easy them into it.

Finally, the day came for Indy to go out with other foals.  They were a month older and already weaned, but size wise Indy dwarfed them. The other foals didn’t mind and soon they were all running around and playing.  I was so happy for him!

My happiness faded after less than a week.  I came to the barn only to be told that the other two foals were leaving, moving to new homes.  I was crushed; Indy was losing his first friends and most likely the only chance to be with horses his age.

His only choice now for a friend was a mare that came into heat, let him try to nurse, and then squirted all over him.  Good thing he tolerates baths. A few days later the mare was mean to him instead, chasing him off and biting him.  I was pretty miserable.  I spent a lot of time with him, but it’s not the same.  He’s got to learn to be a horse too.

As much as I hate moving my horses around, it was no longer a good place for us (there were other issues as well).  We moved much closer to home, to a beautiful, safe facility.  Shady and I have plenty of room for riding, and Indy has a friend.  He will have more in the spring, but for now he’s quite happy.  Although his friend is not his age (he’s 27!) they are almost the same size and they play all the time.  He’s got plenty of stimulation with lots of horses around, room to run, and a lot of variety.  We can go in the indoor, around the track, through the cross country field, and out on miles of trails.  I was worried about a larger facility having too much commotion, but it has actually been very good for him.  He’s been exposed to a ton and also has a lot to look at.  It will keep him occupied and hopefully vice-free!

(Video is of a slow motion “drive-by” of Indy’s response to being dominated a minute earlier)

So, if you are thinking about raising a foal, this is something to really consider.  I honestly hadn’t thought it would be so hard to find friends for him.  I reached a point where, in a moment of frustration (madness?) I briefly considered looking into adopting a foal so they could have each other.  Thankfully finances and my boyfriend limited me.

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2 thoughts on “The Importance of Friends”

  1. This is a real problem for the owner breeder. I am facing a similar dilemma. I adore my mare and want her with me but I know the best thing for her is to foal in a herd so that, come weaning, she has a support group and the foal has a herd to be part of. Everything points at placing her at a stud but I’m going to miss her so much! She’s not even in foal yet but I’m getting my worrying done early!! Its great that you found a nice place and a friend for Indy. Who knows, maybe a kindly older horse raises a foal to have better manners than the foal who grows up in a band of colts or fillies.

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