Dancer delivered at about 10 o’clock last night, May 7, 2012. I’ve been putting her in the barn for the last couple of nights as a precaution that she wouldn’t deliver the foal near the pond or someplace dangerous. The foal was not due for another week or 10 days. Just before I went to bed at about 11, I called her in for grain and for another night in the barn. She did not come when I called, so I suspected the new foal. I went out in the dense fog with a flashlight and after a bit of searching, sure enough found them. The foal’s hind legs were still wrapped up in the birth sack but he was busy struggling to stand up. I went back to the house and got Kathy to help me carry the flashlight and open gates. I carried the foal, still wet from birth, back to the barn, Kathy walked a little in the lead lighting the way with Dancer worried and following close behind.
When we got in the barn, I spent about an hour imprinting the foal, minus the timeouts I allowed him to try to find the milk faucets. Imprinting is petting/touching a newborn horse all over it’s body. He was worried about it and did relax a bit but not much. I did it again this morning, May 8. He was still worried and maybe a little better. I will continue to do it and see if I can take away the fear of human touch completely. I have imprinted my foals in this way before, though there are many foals I haven’t done any imprinting on. To tell you the truth, I can’t tell if it does any good or not. Is the grown-up horse any better for it? In theory the process seems to make sense. I believe the horse experts when they say that a colt is born with all his learning faculties and can start to learn same as a grown-up horse. Every horse is different. Some foals are comfortable with touching right away and some are not. I don’t know how you could do scientific study to find out if it really works. If you had 1000 foals and imprinted half of them, you could calculate if a higher percentage of horses are easier to train amongst the imprinted ones. I don’t know. It all seems a little far-fetched to me. Nevertheless, when the circumstances allow, I’ll continue to do the imprinting.
The birth of a colt on our farm is one of my favorite things. It is like a Christmas present sitting under the tree that you finally get to open on Christmas morning. This foal is a strong, healthy colt. He seems a little bigger than usual. He is bright bay. He has a unique asymmetrical strip on one side and a snip on the other side of his face, as if God was going to paint in a big symmetrical blaze and then got distracted by other important things, such as saving a lot of people from a tsunami in the Pacific Ocean or something, and didn’t get back to finish painting the middle part of the blaze.
I haven’t chosen a name for him yet.