We thought we had seen it all. After twelve years in equine rescue and many more as private horse owner we have seen a lot things, including pregnant mares. And these are easy to spot, right? With their seriously large bellies, they are as obvious as the moon. Occasionally, we’ve run across posts online from folks that have had surprise foals, often out of rescued mares that they did not know had been bred. The posts would have titles like “Look what we found this morning!” or “What a shock!” Like many other people in the Interwebz, we’d roll our eyes and think “Seriously? How could you miss that?” And “Everyone knows they should check these mares coming in the door.”
Enter Daisy. Daisy was one of the Sparky project mares who arrived at White Bird last spring. She came with her best friend, Gatsby, who was seriously ill and very weak from myopathy. The two had been together for years and had never produced a foal. But taking nothing for granted, we had her pregnancy checked, anyway. We did this partly because of her big belly, which was just as round as a billiard ball. We thought it likely that she actually was in foal. The vet examined her and determined her to be open, and also that she would come into heat within the week. And obligingly, she did so. That same week, Gatsby was gelded as soon as he was strong enough. That should have been the end of the story.
Over the past year, Daisy has gained weight and condition and is now a plump shiny, pony with the same round belly that she’s always had. This morning, we were astounded to discover that under that round bell she had managed to conceal the fact that she actually was in foal. Beside her in her stall was a new colt, who is in fact a dead ringer for her best friend, now-gelding, Gatsby.
After the initial shock, we did a careful rethink of events. The two had never had a foal in the years they ha been together. Check. Daisy was pregnancy checked on arrival. Check. Gatsby was gelded. Check. And h was very, very weak and not likely to be able to even mount a mare. Check. Daisy had a big belly. Check, but she started out with that a year ago when she was actually underweight, and she had gained weight and condition since then. The big question was how on earth she managed to hide this solid boy. Doing the math, she was probably only 6 weeks into her gestation when she arrived. The fact that we didn’t see her bagging up this past week was more easily explained. These ponies are shaggy this time of year and that was easy to miss.
Every horse we take in teaches us something new. Daisy taught us several lessons. First, that mares can be sneaky. Yeah, okay, we already knew that. Second, that you really can’t assume much of anything where it comes to horses. Third, the next time I see someone post about their new stealth foal, rather than rolling my eyes, I will simply wish them a healthy mom and baby.
Our little guy has yet to be named. And we can always use donations towards the care of this little family and their herd mates, while they are awaiting permanent homes. So we are having a naming contest! If you think you have the perfect name for this new member of the White Bird family, please send us a $10 donation via Paypal and add your suggested name in the “comments.” The grand winner will be announce next Thursday.
In the meantime, Mom and baby are doing just fine. Photo by Stephanie Ketcher.
Update! Our new guy has a name! He is….(drum roll)…Mr. G! The submitter of this name suggested something unusual: that we ask the foal what the G should stand for. We did, and his preference was to be called “Galloway.” However, the submitter also suggested that the G could stand for alternate things, depending on the mood or occasion. For example, he could on some days be “Grumpy” and on other days be “Gallant.” We appreciated this fresh approach to names. In fact, I considered that it might apply well to humans, too, and that we may benefit from thinking further out of the box in assigning personal identification. But many thanks to Lea Gallogly for this original approach that has named our new foal, and our appreciation to everyone who submitted entries.