Mucking at the horse rescue the other day let me meet baby Jasper for the first time. He’s two months old now and the sweetest thing. When he was eleven days old, he and his mama Bella were rescued along with six pregnant mares from a trip to a Mexican slaughterhouse. The other six were rescued by other sanctuaries.
He’s a little fireball who loves people, loves carrots (the pieces have to be really small; think baby carrot broken into three or four pieces), loves to play with his toys, and is learning how to wear a lead as well as a small saddlebag on his back. The sanctuary’s ultimate goal is to get him and Mamma adoptable.
Since I’m just a wanna-be, I thought I’d check into just what goes on with a newborn foal.
Jasper likely stood up within an hour of birth to start nursing and probably fell over many times until he figured out just what legs are and what he was supposed to do with them. These days, his rump is higher than his forelegs, a natural progression of growth.
Hopefully nursing started within two hours and he found Mama’s milk by instinct. He needed the colostrum she provided.
At the rescue, his temperature would have been checked often; normally just one degree higher than an adult, and blood samples are closely monitored.
For the first few weeks, he followed right next to his mama before getting bolder. I was told his mama, due to the trauma of capture, didn’t produce as much milk as she would have in less stressful times, so Jasper started in on “mature” food sooner than he likely would have. Nonetheless, his intake is closely monitored, as too much rich food in a foal causes “founder”, an ailment similar to gout. But Jasper’s grazing instincts have always been good.
He and mama spend time now in the round turnout, which is carefully tended and free from rocks and sand. Because he’s still learning, his natural grazing instincts would have him chewing on such stuff, too. Although he and his mother have a nice-sized stall, he needs plenty of room to run and play like any kid. He has a jump-ball , the big rubber ball with a handle on it, that he loves.
Oh, and he has managed to nibble on Mama’s mane a little bit. It’s great entertainment for him. He also likes such things as traffic cones. And as yucky as this sounds, apparently the foal has needed to chomp a little bit on mama’s manure…his gut has no bacteria naturally to break down food.
The two lovely ladies in charge of him have already started halter-breaking, and he’s quite a champ. In a foal, halter breaking starts at about one month because he needs to have strong-enough neck muscles. Walking him helps wear him out and gets him used to people.
Jasper will be vaccinated and weaned between four and six months. And by now, his hooves have hardened enough to be picked clean and brushed.
(Thanks to this website for some cool foal info.) http://www.diamondcequestriancenter.com/foalcare.html