Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hidalgo, the Orphan Foal

Hello! I wanted to introduce a new family member today and tell you a little more about his story.

Towards the end of June we got a phone call from a friend who had a new colt and  was telling us about it. I jokingly said I would bring him home and he could live in the living room and I would bottle feed him.

His tone became very somber and he told me of an orphan horse colt (a boy) who would need a place to go in the next few days. So....this is Hidalgo. I am not sure exactly when his birthday is, but he came to live with us on June 31. I was told he was, "about a month old" at that time and we began a journey together learning to raise an orphaned foal.

The first feeding was very scary and even seemed mean. I waited a few hours and made sure he was hungry. Having never done this before I had no idea what to expect. A cowboy said it would be much like trying to feed a wild deer and that I wouldn't be able to do it on my own. He wasn't joking. So I enlisted some help who had to corner and hold the baby while I showed him the bottle. Well, more like force this giant nipple into the mouth of a terrified 100 pound jackrabbit with legs longer than mine that only wanted to get away. He was scared and honestly, I was too. Most of all, I was afraid he would get hurt.

But he weathered through and our second feeding was much easier

There was nowhere to get foal milk replacer anywhere near me, so I had to use calf milk replacer without antibiotics in it. We also gave a few initial doses of Conklin's Fastrack Equine Gel to get some Probiotics in his belly. A few days later, I found a super nice new friend in the next town over who had some goat's milk and bought a few gallons to get some good antibodies in him as well.

A few days later, I opened his pen up to the run, allowing him to get outside and have more space to run. I lined the outside of his run with hog panels so that the big horses couldn't harm him. They got to know each other very well through the panels though. He looked at the open door like it was his chance and ran around his little pen like he was doing something wrong. Every pass, he would stop and nuzzle my arm. I think he was making sure I was watching him play.

About three days in, the calf bottle was really bugging Hidalgo, the nipple was big and seemed a bit much for him, so we switched over to a bucket for feeding and he really started eating more. I began adding some Mare & Foal feed to what was left in his bucket at the end of each feeding and he began to mimic the big horses and eat grain when they did. He is now down to two feedings of milk a day and a full scoop of Mare & Foal.

Early last week, the kids and I introduced the halter to our baby

It was easy as pie. It had been hanging in his stall for a few days so he knew it wouldn't hurt him. We slipped it on and he wore it all day for the rest of the week. After two days we started learning to lead. This process can be very easy if you use the proper tools. With the help of a butt rope, Hidalgo was leading in about 20 minutes.

Hidalgo has since learned to back and give all four feet in preparation for our first visit with the farrier. We will begin working on loading in a trailer soon and are working on bending and flexing our head so that rein training will be much easier when that time comes.

I know some of you don't care much about horses, but if you do and you want to follow along his journey, please feel free to check back often. Please leave comments and questions, as I am still learning on how to raise an orphan colt and would like to help and get any help I can. Until then, here's one last picture of my beautiful baby for you all to see

And for my friends who are joking about a baby shower, remember all my tack is dark purple. Hidalgo would love a nice weanling halter, lead rope with snap, and a colt size jolly ball. I am just playing around but I'll update you on his progress very soon!

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