Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Some things just are not meant to be ...

Some days having horses truly tests me and yesterday was one of those days. As I walked up the race at 8am on my way to start the morning feed out routine, I noticed the horses in the top paddock were all riled up. I wondered what had got their knickers so knotted and smiled that they were all apparently feeling so well considering the awful winter they have been through. There was much bouncing and sproinking and snorting and general high tailing it about. Sadly the reason for their apparent high spirits became obvious when, piled high with feed buckets and hay bales, I rode the quad up to their paddock fence line and saw the very small, very still body of an aborted foal lying out in the paddock. 

All farmer's know that where you have livestock, you have deadstock. It's one of life's horrible inevitabilities but it is still never easy to deal with and I'm really not very good at being pragmatic when faced with this sort of situation.  I just feel sad, very, very sad and very empty. With all the hope and love invested in the breeding process and breeding animal, it is very hard to prevent some of the cold that envelops the lifeless wee body from creeping into my own heart. But Hooty has to be my number one priority so, in floods of tears, I reach for the halter and catch her.

Hooty safely caught and in the yards, Nick very kindly collected the foal (about the size of a large spaniel) and walked the paddock to look for the placenta and/or unexpected twin, whilst I arranged for my vet to come out and attend the mare. Unfortunately she had retained all the afterbirth so she would need lots of veterinary intervention and time was of the essence. Retained foetal membranes can result in laminitis if the mare does not clean properly and laminitis is a very painful and life threatening condition! 

I am pleased to be able to report that, three Vet visits later, we have a perfectly healthy mare who has cleaned well and is bright and chipper and for that I am hugely grateful. Now she can live out her days in happy retirement as a big pain in my ass, eating, well, like a horse and generally ruling the roost. And no I would not have it any other way! She has produced five exceptional foals in her breeding career and I owe her this at the very least.

I also have a yearling who is under the weather with what looks like a virus. She should be fine but she's got 5 days of antibiotics, eye drops and anti inflammatory medication to look forward to. Lucky I seem to breed them so quiet and accepting so medicating her will be a breeze. Now hurry up summer, we'd all like some sunshine and warmth!!

Yesterday I was ready to throw in the towel and quit the breeding game altogether. Today I am a little more optimistic about things but still questioning whether I have the strength to continue on this journey that is just such a massive emotional and financial commitment. This is especially true when I consider the current market and question how so many people can afford to price their youngstock so cheaply for sale? And then I read the social media bulletin boards and facebook groups and actually see just how little value so many people seem to place on the sort of purpose bred pleasure/sport horses and ponies that I invest so much of myself in breeding. I know I breed lovely horses and the breeding choices I have been making are working and I know that there IS a market for what I breed but at what emotional and financial cost to myself and my family? Yes, the jury is definitely still out.

And, tomorrow is another day ...

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Just as sweet as the biscuit she is named after

Today we took Toffee down to Solway again, this time for a dressage rally and a play in the lovely big sand pit down there. She had her first spin in a dressage arena and her first ride in a horse float with another horse beside her - of course she behaved as if she had been doing it all forever. This young mare continues to impress me with her generous and malleable nature - I think we have a very exciting season ahead of us!