Viewing entries tagged with 'merlin'

Seven sets of hooves

Posted by Hannes on 29 July 2010 | 6 Comments

Tags: , , ,

A few months after we moved to Angels Rest, someone asked me if we would consider a few horses on the farm purely for grazing. He had a few young fillies that needed to be kept aside as they were too young to breed with and caused interference with the colts and leading stallion. Soon we had two young mares over to see if all would go well and if they would manage on their own and probably also to test us to see if we would cope with them. Lady and Sea Biscuit were quick to adapt and soon made good friends with the dogs and the chickens. It was very different having horses on the farm and we enjoyed watching them run and graze together. A month later another three young horses came to join the two mares. Maya was one of these. She was only six months old. Alexander was not much more. Henry was a much older colt and we battled keeping him from jumping fences. He left a few months later. Sea Biscuit (Bisqui) gave birth to Merlin early summer! We never expected to see a foal so soon but fell in love with the new youngster immediately. He was most entertaining and got very tame with us. Roman and Jade joined the family six months later and stayed very close together for months after. Then Cuba came, a bright young filly with typical thoroughbred stature but yet so much Arab built. Knowing these horses didn't belong to us, we struggled not getting too attached! They were here for grazing and safe keeping only so we never interfered with their owner's decisions regarding their well-being. Some would leave us and some would stay. Lady and Bisqui left eventually. One super stunning morning their owner came over and informed us he would like us to adopt the horses on the farm on a permanent basis as he was planning on selling his stud. They were ours to keep! It was one the most glorious days of my life! We started a 'clean up' programme to detox them from worms and ticks and all the parasites that pestered them. Six months after the intense programme, the three mares went in season and for the first time we saw Alexander perform his duties like a real stallion. Maya (now the leading mare), Jade and Cuba were all mated but we were never sure if they were pregnant. Time would tell! I got a call from their previous owner asking if I would be interested in buying Bisqui. They had sold many of their best horses and knew how much we loved her. A week later she was back on the farm and as a bonus she was also pregnant! It was good having the girl back where she belonged. We called the local vet to check up on the four girls and he was happy with their condition and confirmed all four were pregnant. Our stallion Alex and the two colts, Roman and Merlin, were gelded that day to ensure no more breeding. It was a sad day for me watching the whole procedure. Not knowing what to expect made it worse than it sounded. They recovered well. It took two weeks for the wounds to drain and the swelling to drop. What an experience for all of us. Gestation in horses takes 11 months, or about 340 days counting from the last mating. With our girls It's impossible to be entirely accurate, but we have followed the signs and know the time is getting close. We check their udders regularly for size and signs of waxing (an excretion of fluid two to three days before labour begins). A day before the foal is born the mare looses appetite and just hours before birth she starts sweating. At this time she would seclude herself from the rest and choose a safe place to have her foal. Birth usually takes place in the early hours of the morning. We kept a close eye on Merlin when he was born. We didn't want to interfere too much but had to help Bisqui to let him drink. Liz managed to milk Bisqui slightly to release some of the pressure from her full udder and once Merlin discovered the nipple, Bisqui was happy to let him suckle. He grew very attached to her udder in the days that followed and they formed a very pretty picture indeed. The joy that little foal brought us will repeat itself in the months to come I'm sure. We love our horses and, as we learn, every day we improve.

Merlin and Bisqui, day 1
Merlin, week 1

6 comments | Read the full post

Plettenberg bay - Garden Route - South Africa