Sparkles of dew shimmer atop the lush grass. Sunlight seeps between tree leaves, spotlighting the dancing pools of moisture.
The constant background music of a heavenly chorus might only be inside my head, but this wonderland is better than anything I could dream up on my own.
Applejack is growing larger every day. His strapping physique grows more masculine and muscular every day. The little boy now lunges both ways at a walk and a trot; knows how to stand on a pedestal; can pivot (ish); can shake his head no; has started to lift his feet for the Spanish Walk when I tap his elbows, can back up when I pull his tail; backs up when I move my finger back and forth; picks up all four feet very well for the farrier and for anyone who hoofpicks him; will stand square anytime I ask; will follow anyone’s movement at a walk, trot, over a jump, and stop; and will allow me to snap a whip at any point around his body without flinching.
In a few short months, I’ll be seeking out a blanket to fit the boy.
His old ones won’t work anymore.
Winter will be here soon; the cold weather will begin in a few short months–or possibly weeks.
The days pass on, some leaving twinkling moments while others fade quietly into the background.
It’s glorious to notice the sparkles as they occur, instead of longing for them after they have passed.
He grazes on his side, she grazes on her side.
Once in a while, he’ll wander to the fence, call for her, and she’ll wander over.
Sometimes she’ll call for him, and he’ll trot over, tail held high.
They’re learning to live without each other.
It makes me feel all the feelings.
My baby boy is growing up. I’m becoming more important in his life, and when I call to him, he nickers or whinnies and gallops over. He knows when I call, I come bearing treats and love and tushie-scratches. He knows that I’ll itch inside his ears and fondle his mane and hug his neck and he comes running.
He comes running.
I hear baby boy’s whinny when I teach lessons and I want to run to him, too.
He chases a wisp of hay in the corner, and she lifts her head to observe. He snorts with pleasure as he catches the stray piece, and then shakes his head. She follows suit within her own stall, and watches him through the bars. Her lack of concern borders on relief.
It’s almost time. The time that she’ll cuss me out and call me every name in the horsey book. The time that he’ll wish the fence would crumble and fall to dust.
The time that they’re separated. Permanently.
They’ll both stay here. They’re not going anywhere except separate pastures with other playmates. It’s time to broaden their horizons and test their strength. It’s time to show them that there’s more to heaven and earth, Horatio, than dreamt of in [their] philosoph[ies].
Honey and Mumma will go into the RAMM pasture while Sidney and Applejack will remain in the wooden pasture.
I’ve been told it’s easier on the horses when they’re unable to see each other during weaning, but I just can’t get behind that school of thought. I’ve gradually started to lock them into separate stalls for a few hours each day, and it’s gone very well–even when they can see each other from a few stalls down, or can’t see each other at all.
Besides, Mumma’s milk is dry. He’s sucking air when he goes in for a taste. He’s head-butting her poor teats and nipping her constantly.
And she’s such a sweetheart that she lets him.
Sidney and Honey are the lowest on the totem pole for their respective herds, so they’ll be perfect to initiate Chex and Applejack into their groups. Then, when I move the horses into the paddocks (Mumma into the mare paddock, Applejack in with the boys) the transition will be smoother.
There are a few steps inbetween. I’ve let Chex meet the girls, and Applejack has sniffed Twist, Dusty, and Zeus through the stall bars. Jack has even been in with Sidney for a few weeks when Sidney was meeting Mumma and Jack. (I’ve always known Sidney would be the perfect babysitter.) The mares and geldings will be added from the bottom of the totem pole into the pasture one-at-a-time. I’m taking no chances with my precious baby boy or his exquisite mother.
The peace of horses eating floods over me and elevates my spirit. Jack gives me a once-over, assessing whether or not I carry treats. If I call his name, he bounds over as if to ask, “What kind of fun shall we have now?” If he’s in the paddock grazing, all I have to do is call, “JackJack! Come here, baby boy!” and he’ll gallop in my direction the moment he sees me.
Soon, I’ll be his Mumma. Until then, I’ll share parenting duties.
He sniffs, and then gives an experimental nip.
He feels the “pinch” and shies away.
He grabs my shoelace and gives a mighty heave.
Ooh–a cat! A CAT!
Mama peeks around a corner, watching me babysit.
Applejack’s mane and tail are so veregated, there’s no telling what color they’ll be. Red? White? Black? The hair is also coming out curly.
His baby hooves are growing out, too. They’re stronger and darker. He has one striped hoof, two black hooves, and a blond hoof.
Though it may seem that Applejack is able to get away with everything and anything he wishes, he’s learning about his world in a safe environment. I’m helping him to learn boundaries and gently pushing him away from wrong and toward correct behavior. He understands that some things aren’t nice (biting) and that there will be repercussions (small “pinches” on his nose/face.) I want his natural curiosity to continue because it makes training so much easier.
The baby boy is now on supplements for his feet, teeth, coat, and growth. He’s super tall and definitely more graceful than even a week or two ago. He’s growing into his body and understanding what I ask and why I ask it. He’s scary-smart and a joy and delight every day.
Two years, and it just didn’t work out. I started by breeding Melody, who miscarried. Later that year, the stallion we’d tried to use as the stud died. There was no chance for a re-breeding.
We later discovered Melody has endometriosis.
Last year, we bred Honey to a more local stallion. She started out as pregnant with twins, and then for her safety had to have a “twin reduction,” which is a nice way of saying that a specialist made sure that only one twin survived.
And then, this spring, no foal.
I have friends who have horses who get pregnant if a stallion so much as sniffs them.
But not mine.
Instead, I had heartbreak. Over and over.
This spring, I told the stallion owner to keep her deposit. I couldn’t deal with breeding anymore. The overwhelming sadness creeping through my thoughts every moment of the day shadowed me. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t think.
Everything else is perfect in my life. I have the barn of my dreams. I have an amazing, supportive husband, and three other phenomenal horses. I have boarders for which any normal stable would trade their right arm.
But no foal.
I longed for that foal I’d bred; grieved for it. Went through my day wishing and hoping and dreaming about something that didn’t exist.
But he does.
If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you may remember that I recently posted a photo of someone that I called “Honey’s Doppelganger.”
He became mine as of today.
My dear friend helped me trailer.
We followed the glorious sky west, toward home.
Please meet Applejack.
I know he was meant for me when I saw him online. His markings are just the same as Honey’s. His mother has my initials branded onto her tushie. How likely are these things both to happen? He was made for me, and the universe made sure I didn’t pass him by. I let him, and his mother, play in the indoor arena this evening just for fun.
I love him already. Thank you so much, Sand Stone Farm’s Rescue Efforts!
If you would like to donate to Sand Stone Farm’s Rescue Efforts, please visit their pages:
-Wish List: http://www.sandstonefarm.info/wish-list.html
-GoFundMe Site: http://www.gofundme.com/helping-ssfre