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What is it about a baby that makes people go all gushy inside?

I’m a prime example. For me it doesn’t matter really what kind of baby it is. I can get choked up looking at chicks at the feed store.

Or baby geese wandering around the park.

Or kittens.

Or puppies.

Even the mice that decided to procreate many times over in our garage can give me a lump in my throat.

So when we found a new foal in the “nursery stall” in the barn, it was a gift.

Pure serendipity.

This little guy was just four days old – still trying to figure out how to use those long legs.

His mother was cautious, but allowed me to snap a few pictures.

It will be no surprise to you that I have an especially soft spot in my heart (or is it my head?) for human babies.

We’re hard wired to be soft on babies. It’s how we’ve managed to stick around the planet for as long as we have.

I’m one of those people who smiles at babies and little children in public. I’ll stop parents to ask about their baby.

It happened just last night at a restaurant.

There was a young couple with three kids waiting to be seated. The youngest looked to be a newborn. Dad was cradling her in his arms while mom tried to corral the two “big brothers.”

I was the only one in our party to notice this family.

I smiled at the dad. “Looks like you’ve got a new baby,” I commented.

He beamed a smile back. “She’s pretty new.” Then he held her up so I could have a look. She was a petite little thing with perfect features and a cap of dark hair.

“She’s beautiful,” I said.

Dad just kept smiling.

I loved the look on his face.

My baby and his baby.

We have a baby in our family these days, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

He’s turned me into a grandmother and I think it may be the job I’ve waited for all my life.

Everything else has just been a dress rehearsal for me to become Grammy. Now I get what countless other grandmothers have known.

This is the sweetest job in the world.

I was having one of those down days – tired, worried and on the verge of tears. Sometimes life just hands a person more than she thinks she can possibly handle. I was there.

I loaded up the grain and headed for the pasture because I had to. My enthusiasm was lagging. I was doing it by rote.

Little did I know that Mother Nature had a surprise in store for me. A little vitamin for my soul on a day when I needed a super giant-size bottle of vitamins.

I pulled down the road toward the gate where my crew usually hangs out – at least at lunchtime.

Instead of our little herd of oldsters, I saw the entire herd jammed close to the gate.

Bud, Pepper and friends were a few yards away, more toward the middle of the pasture.

Crap.

I knew Pepper and Bud wouldn’t come through the other herd. They’re sworn enemies.

I pulled out a lead rope and began to swing it at the horses by the gate, hoping to encourage them to move away, so that Bud and Pepper could find a hole and get to their food.

That’s when I noticed that the horses at the gate were gazing, almost transfixed, on the adjacent pasture. I followed their gaze and saw what was so fascinating.

The foal and his mother were out getting a little sun.

He is the cutest little guy. He’s gangly and still a bit wobbly on his legs. He was having a great time gamboling (I’ve never been able to use that word in a sentence before!) around the pasture, picking at grass and hay, but mostly nudging his mother to let him nurse.

I felt my sadness shift a bit. Babies do that to me. Doesn’t matter if it’s a human baby or a horse. I even get mushy over baby mice.

I opened the gate and twirled the rope overhead. It makes a kind of whirring sound that gets the horses’ attention. They moved just a little, but enough that I thought Bud and Pepper could get through.

I called out, “Hey, you guys want to eat?”

They were watching this whole adventure of mine. Slowly they approached, and then, like a flock of birds in flight, they turned away in unison. Bud, Pepper, Amigo, Red, Baby, Macie and Hanger headed away from me.

“You can do it,” I coaxed. “Come on.” I kept talking to them, and all the while I was swinging the rope to keep the rest of the herd away.

Bud and Pepper waited.

They watched.

They looked around.

It seemed like they were mustering their courage.

And then, it was sweet old Pepper who made the break. She laid her ears back, put her head down and ran for all she was worth toward me and the gate. With her arthritic legs, this was a big deal.

Bud followed close behind. They ran past the “mean horses” through the gate to their food.

Whew! Made it.

The mares from the other herd worked their way back to the corner of the gate and resumed their vigil over the foal. They watched him with rapt fascination until he finally laid down in the grass for a nap. Only then did they move away.

It was a beautiful sunny day. The sky had puffy clouds, so perfectly shaped they looked more like a child’s drawing than reality.

I brushed both horses, took pictures of the foal, handed out treats, and allowed myself to relax, just a little.

I soaked in the simplicity of being with my animals, sun on my face, breeze ruffling my hair.

I felt better. I was softer, as if being with the horses had once again smoothed off some of the rough edges of my day, my week. For the hour or so that I was in the pasture, my stress was gone. I am incredibly grateful that I have these gentle yet powerful healers in my life.

Now if only I can transfer this feeling to the other twenty-three hours of my day, I’ll be in great shape.

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