Best Babies Final Batch

ENTRIES FROM WHR’S BEST BABIES PHOTO CONTEST

We’ve loved receiving your submissions to Best Babies Photo Contest! Here is a selection of the final set of entries. At this point our panel of judges which includes professional equine photographers Cheryl Smythe and James Hudyma, will help decide which one of these beautiful photos takes home the grand prize of  a Greenhawk foal package. Runners-up will each receive a copy of Josh Lyon’s excellent guide, Foal Handling, the Lyons Way.

Stay tuned to see if your selection is picked!

Okay, Suzie, take a bow. 2010 AQHA filly sired by Whiz N Custom (“Custom Crome” x “Whiz N Darlin”) and out of Wimpys Little Step mare, Julies Genuine Step. Photo taken by Kevin, Silverado Colt Company, Carberry, Manitoba

Tater Chip Bandit 2010 APHA colt, Sire Poco Docs Bandit, Dam PP No Chip Marks. Photographed going for a swim in a creek at Sussex New Brunswick by Sylvia Balsor. 

Sunset beauty. Peso – dam is Bliss, sire is Tully. Photo by Cheryl Nygaard, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Sorrel stud colt by Sweet Slydun Doc and out of DD Zooms Only Angel. Photo by Rosemarie Ortman, Ryley, Alberta.

Dirty nose. CV Nifty Feature, a sorrel overo APHA filly. Photo taken by Cheryl, at Colour V Ranch located in 150 Mile House, British Columbia. 

Nerdy Horses

Have you ever had a “nerdy” horse? You know… the kind you always seem to catch in random acts of “Nerdiness”…

I have.

Seriously Casey? Why do you always insist on standing in your feeder...?

Of course, they don’t mean any harm in what they do. But they sure make me chuckle :

Porsche collects raindrops on her tongue...

And while I’m trying to capture Porsche on my camera, I have this one to deal with:

Selena, I can't get the shot if your nose is in my lens...

Or maybe perhaps, they just know you have a camera waiting:

Bob, I'm ready for your close-up. Whenever you are...

And nerdiness isn’t limited to the older horses:

Petunia and her prized twig. Roo (on right) is contemplating how to steal it...

Mo Skeeter as a colt. Pic by PS Video.

Whether they bathe in their water troughs (yes, I’ve had that happen too but didn’t have a camera nearby unfortunately) – or crawl into their feeders, I personally enjoy nerdy horses. Nerdiness adds charater. And who doesn’t want a horse with a personality?

It’s a Boy!

This itsy bitsy sorrel beauty arrived at our log house, as these precious packages tend to do, early in the morning. Last Tuesday to be precise. Exactly two days after we had Teenager’s volleyball teammates out from the city for a Sunday picnic, and for which we had, quite politely I thought, asked mommy mare to kindly have baby present for.

Of course she didn’t listen. Do they ever?

Well, never mind that. Don’t think for a second we’re not grateful for a healthy foal, no matter the arrival time. The first few hours were tense as I wasn’t certain baby was receiving the much needed colostrum. Call me paranoid but she didn’t exactly seem to be, well, greedy enough. Of course, I have a lot of experience in this, having been around for the initial hours of so many foals prior to this baby.

One, to be precise.

It’s true, I may have been stressing about nothing, but that’s the way of mothers. It’s how our world goes round. We stress, we consult, we go for a walk, we’re happy. Until the next time. To alleviate my worrisome mind, I checked back at Jenn’s post at My Stable Life about that very same subject – foals and colostrum – and found it extremely helpful. Particularly in formulating a back-up plan if the situation really did go south.

Which it didn’t.

Baby makes seven at the log house. Our own horses, that is. We also periodically look after two or three others. But for myself, and my daughters – Teenager and Wee – we number one Paint Horse gelding, two Quarter Horse geldings, one Quarter Horse mare, new baby, and two ponies of unknown heritage – though Teenager and I have strong reason to believe one may have escaped from a Russian circus.

That’s all I can say about that.

But I have so much more to tell you about all of these horse/human equations in the following months. Stay tuned!

Foal Contest Batch #3

Dressy & Bella’s Day Out


Today was finally the day for one of our broodmares and her filly, to go back out into the “baby” pasture. At our farm in Regina, we have a special, large pasture for the mares and foals that is centrally located, so we can keep watch over it every day from the kitchen of our house or pretty much anywhere else we might be on the farm.

A picture of the broodmare pasture last fall, with all the mares together prior to foaling season.

This pasture was also done up in special fencing – the spaces between the rails are much narrower than what you will find in our pastures for older horses to prevent foals from crawling through. The fence is comprised of white, recycled plastic rails that have been proven to cause minimal damage, should any animal ever come into contact with them. We love this fencing and trust it to take care of the precious horses inside.

So back to today: time for “Dressy” the mare, and “Bella” her filly, to go outside and join the rest of the broodmare band. This is always a tense time for Clay and I, because the mares in the field are always very interested in new babies. It’s quite amazing to see how they will completely stop what they were doing to greet the new addition. We even try to lure and distract the other mares over to piles of supplement, before bringing the new mare and foal in, to give the new pair a chance to acquaint themselves and get some space.

Dressy instinctively puts herself between her filly and the herd.

Despite the fact all the mares know each other (they have been pastured together all winter), things change when foals are involved. And on this day, I saw something I’ve never seen before.  But please let me highlight just a couple of points before I explain…

1. I know everyone has an opinion on the subject but foaling indoors is what works best for our operation. What you should understand is, we deal with a lot of mud in the spring time and therefore it is healthier for our foals to be born in the large foaling stalls we have in our special baby barn.

2. Doing so allows us to be present for each foaling, in case there is a problem. This also provides easy access for dipping (disinfecting) the navals and ensuring the foals pass their meconiums and take a good, first drink.

3. Then we keep the foals and their dams inside for a couple of days longer to do a SNAP test (to ensure the foal got enough colostrum) and to allow the mother and baby time to bond together before introducing them back into the herd.

Of course, this is the part that is so exciting for everyone. So once Dressy and Bella are turned out to pasture there is a brief moment of calm. But all of sudden, all the mares and foals start running towards them…

And in a blink of an eye, Dressy loses track of Bella, her filly…

The next thing I know, Dancer (bay mare on left of picture below), took Bella under her wing in addition to her own colt (he can be seen at Dancer’s right shoulder).

Of course, Clay and I were very concerned at this point – we weren’t sure if we would need to intervene and put Dressy and Bella back together. While Dancer was incredibly careful and kind with Bella, we couldn’t have a “foal stealer” among the herd. And meanwhile, Dressy started to become worried.

Dressy is the sorrel mare with white blaze at right of picture.

What I found interesting at this point was, although Dressy was concerned about Bella, she didn’t start to panic and fire out kicking at anyone. It was as though she knew her filly was hidden amongst the herd and there was a chance she could accidently strike her own baby in the process. Therefore, she kept her wits about her and continued searching for Bella.

Dressy is now the 2nd mare in from the left. Bella is the filly on the far left. Dancer is the bay just to the right of Bella.

Finally, Dressy catches a glimpse of Bella and is able to call to her…

Dressy is now at far left and has finally been able to whinny to Bella.

Bella proceeds towards her mother with a friend as if to say “Hey Mom! That was so much fun…!!”

Promptly, Dressy breaks Bella off from the rest of the herd and is able to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the rest of the mares.

It was an exciting moment for all involved. But what blew me away was the mentality of the herd – although something exciting was happening, none of the mares lost their cool and started kicking. It was as if they all knew their foals could get hurt if hooves started flying for no reason. Clay and I held our breath through the whole thing but seeing Dressy and Bella relaxing in the pasture afterwards was totally worth it. Sometimes, you might have to intervene but if the herd can work it out themselves, that’s always the best option.

Heaven Sent Horses

Recently I had a chance to take a tour of Rogers Heaven Sent Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. My trip was an absolute delight as I got a chance to take in a real-live miniature horse operation. Up until this point, my experience with miniatures had pretty much been limited to petting zoos or the various equine displays at the Calgary Stampede or Spruce Meadows.

My personal tour was conducted by Suzanne Rogers, a woman who truly has a desire and passion for horses big and small.

Suzanne Rogers along with some of her beautiful minis.

Suzanne showed me her broodmares and a couple of mares with foals at their sides. The breeding aspect of a miniature operation is much different from that of larger horses.

For one thing, using Foal Alert monitors on broodmares is less effective for alerting the manager to the arrival of a new foal, since a newborn miniature doesn’t always reach through the vulva properly to trigger it. Therefore, Suzanne’s mini mares wear purple “boxes” underneath their halters that alert her when they have laid down for several minutes.

Needless to say, alarms are constantly going off at Suzanne’s house during breeding season. She doesn’t mind in the slightest however, she would rather be present for the foaling of each and every newborn mini. Even if it means several false alarm runs down to the barn…

The coolest thing I discovered about the minis was, they are incredibly amiable creatures. I’ll admit, when Suzanne and I first walked out to the pasture to see them, I was nervous when they began stampeding towards us.

34 inches or not, they were still horses. And having so many around my ankles made me apprehensive for a second. But it didn’t last long.

What began as “Wow! Do these little things bite?”  turned into, “Clay! Can we please take one home??”

For more info about Rogers Heaven Sent Ranch, check out www.rogershsr.com

Agalactia

You gotta love the babies! But milk supply is crucial to their survival.

As if the anticipation of a newborn foal and a healthy delivery weren’t stress enough, there is nothing scarier than questioning whether or not a foal has had enough colostrum within 12-24 hours of birth. And believe me, a mare that doesn’t seem to be producing sufficient milk afterwards, will make you question that very fact.

First and Foremost: Colostrum is the life-giving substance which prepares a newborn foal for life. Since a brand new baby horse is totally and immunologically, vulnerable to the challenges of the outside world, colostrum deriving from the mare’s teat immediately after birth is Mother Nature’s way of delivering precious antibodies into a foal’s system. A new foal must get enough colostrum through passive transfer, within 12-24 hours of birth. Therefore, if you find yourself in a situation where a mare is not producing enough milk several hours later, or the next morning, you must ascertain whether or not the foal received adequate colostrum. I cannot stress this aspect enough.

A mare without milk is almost the same situation as an orphan foal. You have to make wise decisions and fast.

Determining colostrum intake is often done via a SNAP test or serum chemistry, to ensure antibody levels are adequate.

Of Second Importance: The results of a SNAP test are obtained very quickly – in something like 7 minutes. If it is determined that plasma or frozen colostrum is necessary, it is still important to remember that the foal also needs nutrition for energy. There are a few equine replacement supplements on the market that can help to feed the foal. These include; Equilac, Foalac or Kid Milk (the latter primarily being used for cattle). But it’s important to note that milk replacers DO NOT substitute colostrum.


Once a foal is is verified to have sufficient colostrum levels, providing adequate nutrition is the next big hurdle. Dr. Dennis Rach of Moore & Co. in Calgary, Alberta, gave me this helpful tip recently:

MILK REPLACER RECIPE
Ingredients – 2% Milk + Dextrose (50%)
Mixture – Combined 30-40 mls of Dextrose, per 1 Litre of milk

Dextrose is used as an aid in the treatment of glucose deficiencies in cattle. When added to 2% milk, it provides the nutrients a foal requires, plus, it helps to “sweeten” the milk slightly, to better simulate the taste of a mare’s milk.

If milk replacer is necessary, a foal needs to consume milk replacer every 2-4 hours. (This makes life very difficult, but it needs to be done.) And a foal must consume 16-18% of its body weight in milk per day. For example, a 60 pound foal must consume 6 pounds of milk per day.

Some handy calculations:
1 Quart = 2.5 Pounds
1 Litre = 1 Kilo = 2.2 Pounds

Domperidon.

It also possible to induce lactation. Certain treatment protocols have resulted in milk production ranging from 25% to 82% in success rates. However, induced lactation does not begin with a production of colostrum. Domperidone (check it out at equitoxpharma.com) has been used in recent years with good success, to increase endogenous prolactin secretion in mares (either in advancing the onset of reproductive activity in early spring or to counter the ill effects of fescue toxicosis in pregnant mares at term.)

And of course, check out www.cyberfoal.com in you have an orphan foal, or have a mare suffering from agalactia (non-production of milk). This website works!! It has proven to be a valuable tool for matching orphan foals with nurse mares. At CyberFoal.com, you can apply for a nurse mare or post your own mare up for a newborn foal adoption (if she has lost her foal) and help to benefit someone else who may have an orphan. You can also apply for colostrum or read listings as to where colostrum banks may be located. Altogether, CyberFoal.com is a brilliant, valuable website for owners in dire need of colostrum or nurse mare matches.

Moms

Alright, I know Mother’s day was this past weekend. And it’s not that I’m trying to make up for not calling and visiting with my beloved Mother(s) and Grandmothers. ‘Cause I did. My Mom has a very special place in my heart. She was a single mother who struggled, but somehow managed to raise two healthy, vibrant daughters. So although it’s belated, I thought I’d share a couple of “Mother Scenes” out in our front pasture right now. Since I don’t yet have kids of my own, these are what my Mom proudly refers to as her “Grand-fillies and colts.”

And on that note – why do we need one day to celebrate our Moms anyways? They have been there for us 365 days a year since our lives began. We should be thanking God and commemorating everything they have done for us – every day.

This is a tribute to Mothers everywhere. Where would we be without our mothers? Grandmothers? Mother figures?

Our mothers have taken care of us. Nurtured and fed us, without question.

They have stood by our sides, even when we may have been a little “nerdy” at times. Moms are always proud, no matter what we do.

They protected us from danger.

They taught us how to run and play. And how to survive.

And every once in a while, they let their hair down too…

Then they tucked us in at night and made sure we got our rest.

Where would we be without our mothers?

I shudder to think how different my life would have been without mine.

Best Babies Batch #2

ENTRIES FROM WHR’S BEST BABIES PHOTO CONTEST

We’ve loved receiving your submissions to the foal contest! Keep them coming, this is a long-standing contest running until June 30. Here is a selection of the second set of entries we’ve received for our Best Babies Photo Contest. (You can see the first batch in the March Screen Doors and Saddles Archives). I’ll post another June 1 and the final June 30, after which the judges will make their decision and one lucky winner will go home with the Greenhawk foal package.

Floppy ears by Nu Doc Boy out of Arabian mare. Photo by Gloria Dodd, Cache Creek, BC.

Charlie by Simply Cinnamon out of Majors Sugar Bear. Photo by Leanne Thomas, Widney Paints, Okotoks, AB.

Mojo by Simply Cinnamon out of Willow With Champagne. Photo by Leanne Thomas, Widney Ranch Paints, Okotoks, AB.

Whatcha looking at? Foal by Got Pep, out of Peppahickaroo. Photo by Christine Fleming, Fleming Land and Livestock, Sherwood Park, AB.

Murphy the mini. Photo by Emma Feltz.

Barrel racing beauty by PC Double Frost out of La Suena, Bar 77 Ranch, Brandon, MB. Photo by Jean Marc Perron.

Poco Docs Supreme by Poco Docs Jessie, out of Holmdale Peponita. Photo by Jane Feltz.

Hey baby it’s spring! 2010 filly by Meradas Money Talks out of Smart Rosey Chic (Smart Chic Olena) owned by J. Drummond Farms. Photo taken by Danielle LaForge of Regina, SK.

Powder, meet Chardonnay. Black Powder is out of a Foxtrotter mare and by a Spotted Saddle Horse stud named Soldier. Photo by Lori O’Neal, Dover, Arkansas.

Good listener, Betchahezablessing, a solid Paint. Photo by Denise Pederson, Bentley, AB.

Now it’s your turn, you still have plenty of time to submit your foal photos and enter our Best Babies Photo Contest. You might win our fantastic foaling package, sponsored by Greenhawk (value: $130). Please send your photo, a brief description of foal’s pedigree if applicable, photographer’s name and hometown to dknews@telus.net.