While most mares form a bond with their foals right after birth, this does not always happen to all of them. There are instances where foals are rejected and abandoned by their mothers and this is always something that needs to be given attention to.
Mares get to connect with their young ones as soon as the baby horse goes out and while they are still covered with the amniotic fluid. The mare usually spends a long time sniffing the fluid and showing flehmen, their act of curling the upper lip, as a form of knowing if the foal is theirs.
A combination of sight, smell, and sound make up for the mare’s recognition and acceptance of her baby. It may seem natural because the baby horse will smell the same as her amniotic fluid. However, this is not always the case.
Some mares are not able to bond with their newborn and manifest the phenomenon in three ways: Avoidance, not wanting to nurse the baby and actual aggression to the newborn. This would be problematic especially if the foal is not given his much needed-colostrum after being born. Colostrum from the mares is important as it jumpstarts the newborn horse’s immune system.
If a horse is rejected even before it was nursed, it is always considered to be an emergency.
Unfortunately, one foal was heard to be abandoned on top of a mountain in West Virginia and one couple raced against time to save her from imminent danger.
The area that the couple had to search was a huge mountain top and they were not sure if they could get to the foal on time. But still, they did not lose hope and had faith that they would find the foal they heard about and save him.
As they searched around the area, other people were kind enough to help them because they also know that it is not unusual to find foals abandoned in the said place. Hoping to find the foal in urgent need of attention, people did their best in looking for the said baby horse.
Finally, he was found
It was a good thing that they eventually located the abandoned baby horse and immediately took him down the mountain so he can be cared for. It was found that the horse was starting to get dehydrated and that his mother had left him after being unable to stand on his own feet within an hour after his birth.
Going down the mountain while carrying a foal is not easy. They sustained injuries along the way, but thankfully, people from the area helped them reach their destination and finally brought the horse to a place where he can be saved.
The horse was skinny and badly needed nutrition from his mom. But, since he was abandoned and did not get the colostrum he needed, the couple had to double their efforts in keeping him safe and alive.
It was a race against time
They found colostrum being sold at a store for cattle needs and immediately fixed him a bottle of milk. The horse swiftly took the nutritious drink and started to get better. But, he was far from being safe just yet.
The baby horse had to stand up properly and with his current situation, he could not even bring himself to lift a hoof. It was a difficult start to the road towards health and strength, but the couple was intent on taking care of the abandoned foal and one day, seeing him walk freely on his own.
He was later taken to The Heart of Phoenix Horse Rescue where he could be given the proper attention until he is strong enough to finally be adopted by the couple who saved him that day on that mountain. He may be away from the couple for now, but they are aiming to raise enough funds to help in the rehabilitation of the horse so they can eventually provide a forever home for him.
A couple with hearts of gold
Foal rejection may be uncommon, but it does not mean it doesn’t happen. We will never understand fully why some mares end up abandoning their young ones, but thankfully, there are kind people like this couple who are willing to run on mountains and carry baby horses in their arms just to see them run freely.
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