This was an interesting week. Early on Sunday morning the black TB mare Cricket had a foal! Cute little filly, they've named her Glory for now. Since her sire is a Section A Welsh pony she is nowhere as tall as a TB foal. I find it truly amazing the amount of nurturing instincts that a new foal raise in humans, including me. Every human at the stable is oohing and aahing as if this little equine was their first grandchild.
And the horses? All of them are interested, but it is the mares that all line up at the fence, eyeing Glory with greedy eyes. Cricket repeatedly runs between Glory and the fence so that the other mares can't meet her baby yet. I can confidently say that no horse at Debbie's stable feels bored this week. Nothing like a new baby to stir things up!
Everything seemed fine when we bought Mia in to groom and tack up, but I think all the mares had been running around with excitement, and Mia had joined in. She was a tiny bit more hyper, but since she is so well behaved it did not cause me any problems. When I got up on her and started warming her up it was obvious she was draggy, I guess she had used up her energy running to see the baby. Cricket and Glory were already out in the paddock next to the arena, Glory exploring everything and breaking out into exciting gallops with Cricket running behind her. Debbie warned me to stay away from the arena fence when the mare and foal were on the other side of the fence.
Mia was transfixed by Glory. Every time we stopped Mia would crane her neck until she could see the foal. Once she saw the baby she would not voluntarily look away. If I had let her she would have gone up to the fence, just to get nearer. Once I started working her Mia started to pay attention to me, but if I rode on a loose rein around would go the head until the baby was sighted. I worked a lot on contact this Wednesday. Since she was so draggy at the trot I mostly worked on extending her walk, just to stretch out her muscles. When she was more limber I decided to work on some slow movements. Turns on the hindquarters, 360 one way (a little ragged) and 180 the other direction done really well. I also got a willing turn on the forehand in one direction (she wanted to see the baby), the first time that has happened, and she even backed up 2 steps quietly, another first. Then she saw Glory and gave a soft whicker--come here baby, mommy's here type of whicker.
Was Mia trying to EARN the foal? Was Mia hoping if she was REALLY good that we would take the baby away from Cricket and give her to Mia? Cricket started giving Mia real evil glances, Glory was HER foal and no-one was going to take her baby away, least of all Mia. Even though I was tired I got off in the arena and let Debbie lead Mia back to the barn, I did not want to end up in a fight between two mares for a foal.
Friday Mia was still stiff and draggy. She paid a bit more attention to me which meant I could ride on a loose rein more. I practiced my two-point paying attention especially to my shoulders and my lower legs and did some sitting trot. Mia could stand looking away from the foal much better. Toward the end of my ride I stopped Mia so she could look right at the foal and asked her if she still wanted Glory. Mia answered with another whicker, yes, she still wanted the foal. I basically had to tell her that it would never happen, sorry.
I often wonder about Mia's earlier life. A few months ago Debbie had a young mule gelding in for basic ground training and all the mares were excited. Every mare in heat would come up and show for him. Mia was also interested in him in that way, but when she gave her "come hither" nicker there was a trace of a whicker, that breathiness that a mare uses when talking gently to her foal. Had Mia been bred for a mule? And now this absolutely total enchantment with a baby horse. I suspect that Mia might have been informally bred at one time and had a foal or foals. Glory sure has her mesmerized!
Have a great ride.