There is hardly anything more special than a baby almost anything.  That sentence might stump you at first, but once you read it a couple of times, I think most of you will agree.  Babies are special.

An infant child is the most precious parcel you can imagine.  That cuddly bundle with cooing noises and miniature fingers that wrap around your finger and heart can bring such pleasure and wonder.  While baby bunnies and chicks can capture our “oohs” and “ahhs” at Easter, baby birds chirping from a nest tucked away in a safe place can bring smiles on a warm spring day.  Even baby frogs can be intriguing.

However, without a doubt, baby foals (or baby horses) bring a pleasure unlike no other.  I recognize that this belief is a personal bias, yet, I have never been around anyone who has had the opportunity to experience the birth of a foal that has not been spellbound.   After 11 long months of anticipating this birth it becomes extremely difficult to be patient through the last few days or even the last few hours of the countdown to delivery.

There are times when the expectant mare is at a foaling barn and is being monitored with cameras and equipment that alerts the veterinarian of the imminent birth of the new baby.  This allows the delivery crew to be ready for the birth and to ensure they will be on hand to assist the mare give birth and handle problems if they arise.   Many other times the pregnant mare is at home in a pasture or barn and may or may not be under surveillance.  In these cases the owners have to keep a diligent watch and be prepared to take whatever steps are needed to help the mare have a safe delivery.  This might include assisting with the birth or making sure the baby is out of harm’s way as the mare attempts to stand after the birth process.

Looking out for the baby after birth is important as well.  It is necessary to make sure the baby gets the mare’s colostrum shortly after birth or it will have difficulty getting off on the right path.  Checking for other safety factors is important as well.  Occasionally the mare will not accept the baby or will not have ample milk, and so the baby would need to be cared for away from its’ mother and perhaps be bottle fed or put with a “nursing mare”.  We have seen happen this happen many times and an adoptive “parent” is needed.  Sometimes this role may be fulfilled with a mare who may have lost her foal; Other times the surrogate mare may be a mare who has just had her foal weaned and is still producing milk.   If there isn’t a mare available to fill in, we as humans become the helpmate and may need to bottle feed.  As you can see, there is much to this process of getting a healthy baby on the ground.

Just as there is much to do with the whole gestation process there is also much to do with the journey of raising the young horse.  Much financial and emotional investment has been made in the breeding and birthing of a young horse but even more investment will be needed as the young colt matures into an adolescent and then adult horse.  The cost factor is straight forward and is easy to calculate.  Yet the psychological investment and relationship building is the piece of the experience that is not attached to a cost factor.

This is the component that provides priceless rewards and has the potential for significant benefit when all is said and done.  The joy of raising your own horse and watching it mature into a functional and valuable life partner is priceless whether it becomes a show ring contender, your personal pleasure horse, or a proud yard ornament.

Most struggles that we experience in life (and eventually work our way through) can have pleasant outcomes even though the difficult periods sometimes caused doubt and despair.  It is most likely that there have been times in your own life, and especially during the health threatening battles with an eating disorder, that made it seem as if nothing was worth the price you had to pay. Recovery appeared to be unattainable.  But actually the opposite is true.  God always gives us the strength to find the way out. Please remember that Life is Worth it and so are you.

~Lynda A. Brogdon, Ph.D., C.E.D.S., C.E.A.P.