Monday, 20 January 2014

A Satisfying Christmas Study

Most every year, we travel to Texas from England to visit my family, most of whom still live there. The cost and hassle of travel means that we like to stretch the holiday as long as possible -- sometimes as much as a month -- and this is of course only tenable because we homeschool (reason number mumbly-six for homeschooling, right?!).

Off to Grandma's House!

This year, we had a most exciting educational experience along with our family visitations. A baby horse was born, and we got to see it.

Not only did we get to see it from start to finish, but we endured the grueling build-up to the baby's birth, camping out in a one-bedroom apartment in the barn for four cold nights, testing the mare's milk to see if we could predict when it was due, waking up throughout the night to see if she was getting restless, and feeling a great sense of relief and elation when she started to pass amniotic fluid and to get really aggressive.

Time to Test the Milk

Hooray, the baby is coming!

The two front hooves first appeared from the birth canal at about 10 o'clock at night. The kids had started getting ready for bed, but with their two cousins joining us in our cramped accommodations for the night, they were all still a bit too wound up to sleep.

A Kind of Camping

"Hurry, Kids! Grab your coats and come see -- the feet are sticking out!"

"Stop watching TV and come see this baby!"

Not too long after this, the mare lay down on the hay-strewn stable floor, and started grunting and rocking. The water sack bulged, the nose emerged, and Grandma got down on her knees and started pulling on those little hooves, helping the baby's fat shoulders past the usual sticking point of any equine birth.

Plop! The whitest little face, one brown eye and one blue, and we were all introduced to Sparky at about 11 pm. Everyone got to pet him, especially Grandma who started her "horse whisperer" imprinting routine.

Sparky meets his Mommy

I grew up on a horse ranch in Texas throughout my teen years and saw several foals born, so I was thrilled to pieces when my children were able to experience this as well. Not just the birth, but the long. slow wait beforehand, and the training in handling, gentleness, and trust that began in the weeks afterward.

First Moments of Training
("Now where does that milk come from?")

Studying nature first-hand is just so awesome!


  1. "Studying nature first-hand is just so awesome!"

    That pretty much sums it all up for me! :D What a great experience!

  2. I was determined to make this happened when I heard a mare was due to foal while we were visiting Texas -- usually, babies are born in the spring, when we have major swimming commitments in the UK and an overseas visit is impossible. Would I have camped out a week in that little apartment, waiting for the baby? You bet!


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