Oh Baby! Join Us for foal gentling in Colorado!

We are proud to announce that our Annual Foal Rescue and Training is happening again this September at Friends of Horses in Centennial, CO. We welcome auditors to the course for the week, and Saturday, September 12th, we have our FREE “Meet the Foals” day where we invite people to come, see these amazing beings, how far they’ve come along, and possibly even adopt your very own foal. A portion of the proceeds from this weeks training goes to Friends of Horses who have been great partners in rescuing the foals from the horrors of the feed lots to help give these young souls a chance at a new beginning.

Please come out, join us, and help us celebrate the lives and new beginnings of these precious young ones.

Snow Day: The Tragic Consequence and Life-Affirming Perseverance of the Nurse Foal

Snow Day:  The Tragic Consequence and Life-Affirming Perseverance of the Nurse Foal

By Anna Twinney

I had never seen a horse graze from its knees. But that was exactly what Snow, a majestic, 2-year old, Appaloosa Colt was doing. I thought to myself, “I couldn’t have made him do that, I barely touched his line.” I had wanted to move a short distance, so I could relax on the bleachers nearby while he ate, but just requesting those few steps made him drop to his knees. Perhaps it was a desperate attempt to stay on the lush patch of grass or, potentially, a learned behavior pattern.

I reassured him he could stay. He got back on his feet and walked with me so I could sit down.   I could have ignored this mannerism and chalked it up to a fun story about a playful and mischievous colt, but the behavior was so unusual I felt the origin was worth exploring.

I also noted that instead of nibbling at the grass and continuously picking little tufts, like most horses, he took chunks of grass. He filled his whole mouth with one bite and would bring his head up high, as he did his best to swallow the mouthful.   At first I thought it might be that he needed to settle into a groove, but it became clear this was his way of eating. He looked rushed and was taking whatever he could get. With each mouthful he would take the grass out by the roots before moving onto another. There was no casual grazing.   Snow’s way of eating resembled a hungry orphan or someone who was never taught how to eat. I had not seen this behavior before either.

Not everyone would have noticed his unique way of eating, but I did and had to wonder where it originated. A herd will mirror one another and casually graze with their heads down for long periods of time. It’s a beautifully tranquil and spiritual occurrence, to watch wild ones blissfully eat in harmony, but this was not the case with Snow. I wondered if he had ever learned to graze and if this was as a direct result of his youth.

It was then I remembered Snow’s past.

At just a few days, or possibly weeks old, Snow had been rescued 2 years prior by a group including Ray of Light Farm and Reach Out to Horses. He was “Orphaned”. Not because his mother had died. Instead, is was determined that he had been forcibly taken from his mother and found himself abandoned, too young and innocent to take care of himself.   New to this world he was most likely left to fend for himself in either a stall or trailer. His only choice was to figure out how to eat and drink… or die. He was the smallest of the foals we had rescued and the smallest I had ever seen in my twenty years of rescuing horses.

I could hardly believe someone could do this to an innocent being.

 

Unfortunately he had been born into the nurse foal industry. A heartless, cruel business in which, reportedly, thousands of foals find themselves as “biproducts”, of no value to the stewards who manage the nurse foal barn. Their mothers are bred purely to function as nurse mares to raise more valuable foals, normally born to top performance horses. Nurse foal barns can usually be found primarily close to racetracks.

Not only had Snow found himself isolated and lost without ever knowing why, but he also came to us very sick. Within days he sought out human connection and valued the comfort of human touch in the gentling process. Innocently and trusting he forgave the very same species that had tossed him aside to die.   I remember thinking, that nobody deserves to be punished or treated this way, let alone a newborn infant.

When his group of foals first arrived milk replacer was arranged for them and placed in special buckets for the foals to drink. Quickly they began suckling on the side of the buckets for comfort, mimicking suckling their mother’s teats. It was heartbreaking to watch. We noticed missing hair from many of their ears and discovered this was due to the foals suckling one another. Innately they knew to find dark and damp places from which to suck, be this around the buckets, each other’s ears, or sheaths.

We kept the foals next to one another during the day’s training and together in the herd at night. We never wanted them to feel isolated or abandoned again. It was like watching a group of kindergarteners with little parental guidance. With hay provided freely they would munch away throughout the day sporadically napping in between meals. While we watched some of them adopting natural grazing habits, Snow must have created his own way.

We offered our very best; a second chance at life, asking, and apparently receiving, his forgiveness. At first touch he would buckle in pain and through veterinary care we discovered that not only was he not able to drop his penis to urinate, but he was suffering from a potentially fatal parasite. This ailment would take months of special ongoing care from the rescue, but this little warrior showed his true nature and eventually pulled through.

The sound of horses returning to their stalls snapped me back to the present. I realized my time with Snow was up. I had assigned the students in my Holistic Horsemanship Foundation Course a fun exercise of discovering the motivating interests of their horses and, in the distance, I noticed horses returning to their stalls.

Giving Snow a couple more minutes to enjoy his banquet, he understood my telepathic message this time, and willingly came along with simply a soft touch. It had been precious time together. After leading him back to his stall, with gratitude I removed Snow’s halter, and said my farewells, looking forward to our many meetings in time to come. I left him with my love, appreciation and admiration.

Later I inquired with the farm as to why they thought Snow had developed this strange behavior of “knee grazing”. Bonnie the manager of the farm knew exactly what I was talking about and remembered how Snow had even drunk his milk in that manner.

She explained that after the rescue, the farm had found 2 surrogate mares willing to accept the foals, which happen to be mini’s. Both mares took the foals on as their own and accepted their suckling. The youngsters had to lower their heads down quite low to reach these mares teats and it was then that Snow learned to make himself smaller. Snow had the chance to graze and learn from the small herd and yet somehow missed the grazing style. They had provided the most natural lifestyle they could with the circumstances they had available to them.

My heart was filled with both sorrow and admiration for this beautiful soul. Snow had endured so much, more pain than any creature should have to experience, especially one so young – all because he was born to the wrong mare. And yet he found his way out the other side.   He could have given up, fallen into deep depression, and chosen to leave the planet. But he didn’t. He took the challenges of a rough start and, with the help of many kind people and horses, turned his circumstances around and found a new life and a new beginning.

Unlike so many nurse foals, his journey had a happy ending. I take solace in that thought as I, with so many others in the world, continue to work diligently to give more horses like Snow a chance at a life of happiness, partnership, and love.

Photo Gallery of the Mares & Foals from ROTH’s Foal Rescue 2011

We are in the process of rescuing 12 Foals, all remaining horses, and shutting down a former P.M.U. breeding farm in Canada.

To make a donation to our 2011 Canadian Foal Rescue, simply click HERE. For more information on how you can help in other ways, through sponsorship, adoption, fostering or more contact us at info@reachouttohorses.com.

To find out more about the effort to save these foals please click here.

Little Beau Strider…..Enough Said

**************************************

To Frank, Leslie, and the Equine Angels Rescue Sanctuary; Bonnie, Damory, Ev and all of those at Ray of Light; Anna of Reach Out to Horses.

This thank-you for Little Beau Strider is a quite late, but just as heartfelt as it was during the Christmas season. No more meaningful and touching gift could have been given to me than this playful, sensitive, and loving foal. He has brought so much joy to the Fowler family.

There are so many to thank because so many brought him on this journey to our home. So I will start at the beginning.

To Frank and Leslie and all the folks of Equine Angels Rescue Sanctuary,

Thank you for rescuing Little Beau and all the others. It is your determined effort and stalwart dedication that brought this youngster to Ray of Light in the first place. Without that unwavering resolve to save as many Premarins as possible, Little Beau and I would never have met. I am truly grateful to you all. You are indeed Equine Angels.

To Bonnie, Ev, Damory, and all of the folks at Ray of Light who cared for our Little Beau,

Thank you for offering safe haven to him and all the others. It is your inspired vision, Bonnie, and everyone’s tenacious dedication to help animals in need that provided Little Beau not only sustenance and shelter, but also nurturing and love until a home and family could be found. I am so very grateful. You truly do provide a Ray of Light.

Anna,

Thank you for offering your time, talent, and skills to gentle Little Beau and the others. Your willingness and generosity to help us humans “reach out” to these foals and “ . . . create a trust-based partnership . . . “ have provided Little Beau and me the opportunity to work and grow together as individuals and as a team. I am genuinely grateful and thank you for Reaching Out to all of us and so many more.

Damory,

Thank you for being Little Beau Strider’s godmother. In our boy, you saw the same special nature as I did at the first moment of our meeting. Every time I look at him, I remember that his name came from your inspiration and mine – Strider after Red Strider, who brought so much to so many in his short life, and Little Beau after Bonnie’s handsome palomino, Beau, whose character is one of dignity and grace. With Bonnie’s approval, Little Beau Strider was aptly dubbed. I am so very happy that you are his godmom.

The First of Many Updates

Little Beau Strider adapted quickly to his new and “forever” home when he came to us only a few days after Christmas. Our boy, Gripper, adopted him immediately as he reached over the stall wall to warmly greet the youngster. They spent the winter in a paddock with access to their stalls, and Gripper used the time to teach him while developing the strong bond which now exists between them.

The paddock provided a place where Little Beau became acquainted in a safe manner with the other three members of his new herd. The three mares were a bit testy at first, especially Dakota who charged him on his first visit outside of the paddock in February. This 11-year-old Premarin does not take kindly to intruders, and even after two months of becoming acquainted over the fence, she had not softened her stance. Fortunately Gripper observed the situation and led Little Beau back to the paddock where I could close the gate safely behind them.

Since then, Little Beau Strider has become an accepted member of the herd in which he has found his own place. Gripper still watches over him, but from more of a distance. The lead mare, Abbey Road, also an 11-year-old Premarin, teaches Little Beau the rules by which the herd lives, and Izzy, a 12-year-old Arab, usually just gently moves him away from her hay.

However, Dakota, who had charged him only months before, is now Little Beau’s primary caretaker. She teaches, nuzzles, and loves. Just this morning, as I was walking from the barn to the house, I heard her whinny from the far end of the field. I turned back to watch him trot to her and put his neck under hers. She nuzzled and then stood with her head over his withers as he turned his head, and they both looked back at me from under a tree in the cool of the morning. What a heartwarming picture.

My husband, Jake, loves the boy as much as I. His attention reinforces the trust that Little Beau began to learn at Ray of Light from all those who handled him during and after Anna’s training. He strokes Beau’s ears, neck, and tummy, and Little Beau just loves the attention while he is also continuing to accept our approach and touch.

Little Beau has also endeared himself to his vet and farrier who have found him easy to work with and quite loveable. He barely flinched during his shots, and he was a cooperative patient when gelded. He held up his hooves quietly for the first trim by our farrier who kept the moments of standing on three legs short. Little Beau is loved by all who meet him. In fact, he has already had his first portrait done by a young girl who is quite taken by the little fellow.

There is so much more to tell, but I will save that for another update. In the meantime, I once again extend my gratitude to all who helped in some way to give me so much in this Christmas package called Little Beau Strider. I am forever grateful to you all.

With my sincerest and warmest thanks,

Little Beau Strider’s Mom

Karen Fowler

**************************************

I’M A MUSTANG…….BABY!!!!

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!

==========================

Hi Anna,
Just a quick note to say that Topa (the piebald mustang mare) finally had a beautiful tobiano filly yesterday morning.
Mom and baby “India” are doing great –  I’ve attached a picture.
Not sure if Niagra is ‘really’ pregnant…she looks round but not overly so….Only time will tell.  Even if she doesn’t have a baby, I should still have enough horses for the clinic.
I’ll be sending you a diagram of the mustang corral set-up in the coming weeks to see if the layout will work well for the class.
Hope all is going well – Still waiting for nice weather here – I’m so tired of these dreary, cloudy and cool days!
Michaele

==========================

ROTH new Foal Gentling DVD Filming


If you haven’t heard, Anna traveled to Ray of Light Farm in East Haddam, CT to film, in partnership with Equine Angels Rescue Sanctuary, the new Reach Out to Horses Foal Gentling DVD series, scheduled to come out in mid 2010.  She worked with some beautiful foals rescued from the Premarin manufacturing farms in Canada.  They were some of the most precious, special and smart little guys and girls she’s ever worked with.  One was even fortunate enough to be adopted at the end of the filming week!

And the DVD series is going to be just as special as the foals.  This isn’t going to be a just another “horse video”.  We have brought together an INCREDIBLE group of professionals to make the best, state of the art, documentary quality, instructional video tool you will ever see.

When you see what this collaboration has created, you will be as blown away as we are.  This is a must have tool for anyone working with, training and gentling foals.

Thanks to Ray, Bonnie, Mum, and then entire crew for an amazing experience. You are all the BEST!

Anna