Tuesday, January 3, 2012

3rd January, 2012 Auspicious day?

Of all the days I could choose to wean Peechay, I chose yesterday. It was a bright, crisp day and the sun was shining. He's now really good friends with Indiana and I thought it was an ideal moment. I wanted it to be as surreptitious as possible so I just quietly closed the gate between him and Nelly while he was eating hay in one field and she was in the other. Needless to say at 4 a.m. this morning, when I was woken up by the gale force winds rattling the house and the sideways rain smacking on the windows, I lay awake and worried about him and at the very first sign of any light, drove up to the fields to see how he was. Of course he was fine and he and Indiana are happily eating hay in the field shelter whilst Nelly and Jack have tucked themselves up under a hedge with theirs. Like most owners I really the weight of responsibility for my ponies and would feel terrible if anything awful happened to them as a result of something I had done or hadn't done when I should have. Subconsciously I am always concerned about the safety of my ponies out on the Forest but balance that against the wonderfully natural life that they have and the self sufficiency they develop. Surely Peechay's calm acceptance of being separated from his mother is because he has already ventured far from her out on the Forest knowing that the earth is not flat and the world is full of horses. He knows how to socialise with complete strangers and minds his manners until he knows whether he is speaking to friend or foe. 

It also helps that he is eight months old - about twice the age (and independence) that New Forest foals have normally reached before they are abruptly weaned from their mothers. In my younger days (and I'm officially older today) we used to wean our foals abruptly and take the mother as far away as possible so that they couldn't hear one another. This was often traumatic and on one occasion a foal managed to injure himself very badly in the stable and almost had to be put down. It put us off breeding horses for a very long time. I'd much rather do things incrementally like this providing it is safe to do so. Nelly will be turned back out on the Forest at the end of this week but she will still be able to come and wave at him when she comes home for her hay.