Skip forward a month, and things are moving forward. I have named this little mare Honey, though perhaps a name more fitting to her elusive nature would have been better. I now bring her in on a night time by herding her and Tom in through the gates following a bucket. Tom really is a valuable asset in Honey’s trust training. She is comfortable with him and they even share the foaling box together on a night. I had been told when she arrived that Honey was in foal and due sometime between March and May. With this in mind I knew I needed to gain her trust fairly quickly in order to assist if a difficult situation came up. Whilst in the stable on an evening, Honey would now allow me to give her gentle brushes, so long as I stayed low, softened my shoulders, and didn't look her in the eye.
I could see her feet needed attention, but touching her legs was still very much a no-go area. I agreed with my farrier that this could wait until after her baby had arrived to then sedate her and allow her to have a calm experience. Eventually, I moved Tom and Honey into their new paddock with stables that open directly into the pasture; this is where they would stay until Honey had given birth. As I was unsure of her dates I began to keep a diary of her body shape, her mood changes, her udders and any filling, and her feed / sleeping patterns. I set up a CCTV camera in her stable, put a new lower stable door on for her so she could see out, and set up the adjacent stable with TV, kettle, and quilts. As the time neared, Tom began to harass her, he was a colt after all and I imagine he could sense her hormonal changes, and so he was separated into the next paddock from her, and allowed back into hers when she was stabled.
Honey was still very wary, but we were making some real progress at last. She would allow me to approach her out in the field, and give her a gentle brush. I wanted her to choose to stay or go. I wanted to give her the freedom to walk away if she wanted to. Being in my care did not mean captivity or fear, it didn’t mean being forced in any way, it meant choice. On an evening I would stand quietly in her stable, re-filling her hay and water, and gently plaiting her tail. Mid April and she was getting close, her body was changing shape constantly and feeling for baby kicks was a huge privilege that she allowed me to experience. I sat from this point, night after night, taking photographs, and watching the CCTV monitor for signs of labour. I read countless books over and over, I wanted to be educated for my first foaling, and I had a bucket with all the necessities should she need my help.
The stable was cold, with my thermometer reading eight degrees celsius. I had an abundance of layers on but I still felt the chill. I made a makeshift draft excluder around the door and borrowed a fan heater which I used sparingly when it got too much to bear. I stayed awake nearly all night, reading books and watching the silent screen. In true Honey-style, she chose to stand in the corner that meant I could barely see her. On occasion I thought we were being invaded by giant spiders when they walked across the camera and my tired eyes couldn't comprehend. For three whole weeks I spent every night staying in that stable, arriving at 8pm and leaving and 6am, having fed breakfast done all my checks and let Honey back out of her stable. I’d then return after taking my children to school and muck out and spend time with the others. I was exhausted. I wanted to give up, but I had made a promise to this little mare, and she was trying so hard to trust me that I couldn't let her down. I was in it for the long haul and I wasn't about to give up now. Poor Tom felt he had been banished, but he spent every night sleeping right outside her stable door, often curled up in a ball. He loved her as much as I did, and wanted to be there for her too. A friend came to visit one day and I took her to see Honey, she allowed her to approach her in the field and give her a brush, she was calm, and we sat in the field for what seemed like an age whilst Honey grazed around us, within touching distance.
That evening she went into the stable as normal, and I was due to arrive at 9pm, but little did I know that this would be the beginning of a whole new journey….
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.