Sarah called yesterday. I saw her number come up on my phone. She was somewhat tentative when I answered. She started the conversation with “your mare is alright”. Never words you want to hear because there is always a “but” involved in this statement. For years when I boarded my horses, an unexpected phone call, late at night or at an odd time always caused me to run the traps through my head, first thought was “Is my mom okay”, then to Amber away in Colorado, then to my girls here and finally to my horses. There are just so many ways for horses to get hurt, get sick or just die. And actually, in all these years in Texas, I have only gotten the bad phone call once, never, thank God a call about something bad happening to my family. One time the emergency call came to me in the middle of a highly anticipated and expensive Kenny Chesney concert. That day, my horse Cupid, a big thoroughbred I had recently bought from my vet, Dr. Criner, was colicking. Lauren and I raced out of Reliant Stadium and headed to the barn. Cupid was okay, but Lauren will never forget missing Kenny.
So, yesterday when I saw Sarah’s number come up, my heart did the little lurch thing. Then with her tentative, initial “your mare’s alright” statement I got a little scared. But one thing I have learned for sure in my crazy life, is that things happen. Things you do not predict. Things that are just out of the realm of normal. This incident totally qualifies on all counts. Sarah had a young, Paint horse that was just recently gelded (that means changed from a baby-producing stallion to a neutered male). In the horse world, it is the male that gets neutered not the female. Stallions are reserved for top breeding possibilities and most barns do not have a stallion on site. Sarah’s boy had been “cut” as they say, about a week ago. He had never shown any interest in the mares on her place nor any particular interest in Feather. But something changed Wednesday night. Feather was hanging out in the round pen (a 60 foot diameter circle pen with high fences around it). The paint was out in the pasture. The next time Sarah checked on them, the paint was in the round pen with Feather. They were quietly hanging out side by side.
Of course, the question is and will remain; did the recently gelded Paint try to have nookie with Feather? She is a cute girl. One can see how he was attracted to her. Sarah assures me that Feather is not hurt, has no cuts, abrasions or other injuries. In fact, there is no evidence at all that the boy tried to consummate his love to this girl. I think it is unlikely that anything occurred between them. With both of them being inexperienced at love, I believe there would have been some trauma involved if her boy had really made an attempt to breed with my girl. Still…
Sarah told me that although gelded the male could still have active sperm since it had been so recent. She had talked to her vet who told her there was a shot we could give subsequent to the “exposure” that would assure the mare would not carry the pregnancy. I felt so sorry for Sarah. How horrifying to find a mare in your charge potentially having been bred without any one’s knowledge or permission. I have to say Lauren was quite distressed when I told her. And she did not find my drawings of Feather and baby paint Feather to be amusing.
I am very glad that Feather is fine. If she had been hurt I am sure I would not feel as nonchalant as I am. I am a big believer in “stuff happens” and sometimes God has a hand in things we do not know we need or want.
If Feather is pregnant which I believe is highly unlikely than we will have an amazingly athletic baby. Sarah’s horse is great barrel horse stock, with gentle easy temperament and we know Feather’s background produces superb athletes as well. So, while Sarah had a horrible morning dreading the call to me, I was not upset in the least.
It is the whole ‘closing the barn door after the horse is already out of the barn’ thing. What can we do now? It happened. It is done. Most likely, the paint’s waning testosterone urged him to get with the mare, but once he was in her proximity, then what? He really didn’t know.
Dee, I know if you are reading this, you are probably horrified. But it will be okay. Baby or not, Feather has lots of time to be a champ. Sarah, if you are reading this, I would not change anything about sending Feather to you. I recommend you wholeheartedly as a trainer with great abilities. Feather is coming home tomorrow loading well in my trailer, allowing us to clip her, standing quietly while tied and learning more steps toward trusting us. If she comes home with a baby, well, that’s alright too. Man plans, God laughs. Always one of my favorite sayings.