Isabelle was born on June 25, and it’s so amazing to see how much she’s grown in the last four months. She loves to run when she gets out to the pasture, and she nibbles at hay and grass like her mom. She’s frisky, and it’s clear we’ll have to get a bit in her mouth to train her soon, as she’s realized she’s bigger and stronger than her humans, and even nipped my brother on the arm before bounding through the open gate. She’s still nursing, and it’s amazing how much weight Annabelle has lost. The vet spoke to us about weaning her, about how if she doesn’t stop nursing on her own, we’ll have to separate the two of them until Annabelle’s milk dries up. He said we’ll risk having a full-grown nursing horse if we don’t start to wean her around six months.
To behonest, I disagree. I see the bond between mother and baby, and I don’t want to have them separated. Our draft teams, Bob and Duke, were full brothers and they hated to be separated, even for a short period of time like having a bath. They’d call to each other, and it would be clear that they were nervous. I can only imagine how that would be magnified to separate mother from baby. Isabelle is Annabelle’s third foal, but both of her others were sold, and while I don’t know much about thought processes in horses, I would imagine Annabelle would think Isabelle was going to disappear forever, too. That’s not the case, however, we plan to keep both of them together, and breed Annabelle again so that Isabelle and the new baby can be a team. So, I hope that Isabelle will wean herself or Annabelle will stop allowing her to nurse on demand. Either way, I hope we don’t have to separate them.
Isabelle and Annabelle became the star attractions of the petting zoo at the farm this summer and fall. They had a double fence, with electric on the inside, so people couldn’t pet them, but still, everyone loved visiting with them. Parents and children read the signs to learn about draft horses, Shires, and Isabelle’s birth. Even when Annabelle kept her baby in the shade of the barn during the hot day, people would wait to see them come out and graze. Annabelle’s a wonderful mom, and when Isabelle takes a nap, she stands over her and guards her while she sleeps. In fact, nap time is the only time I think Annabelle has something more important on her mind than food.
We’re so happy to have added these two horses to our family, and looking back, it’s hard to imagine life without them.
Don’t forget to visit Horse Tales for all the stories and pictures of our horses!