Foal Watch

Bernice on the left, Exclusive on the right. They are half sisters.

The mares at work are starting to go overdue. Well… two of them are anyway. Freckles and Bernice. Exclusive is getting near her due date.

Bernice seems to be in denial. “Pregnant? Who me?” She was rolling in the snow this morning and jumped up afterwards snorting and cavorting. But Freckles, poor girl, is miserable. Her legs are all stocked up, and her belly is enormous.

Freckles, looking huge and miserable. She's a few days overdue.

Last year there was only one foal, so it’s going to be fun having a little herd of them this year again. Last year’s little boy was Winchester. He’s a very handsome fellow, and quite cockily confident.

Winchester playing with the fork. He also tried the getting in the wheelbarrow trick.

Jasper Makes Progress

 

Jasper at about a year old. Just coming off stall rest.

There are glowing reports trickling home on Jasper’s progress at Woodbine. He’s the big lunkhead of a three-year old who went to the track a few weeks ago for the first time. He is Monster’s (yep that bad little two-year old who jumped on my head) older brother. A big, lanky grey gelding (for some of the same reasons that Monster is soon to be a gelding!).

Word is that Jasper is behaving like a superstar. He’s doing everything he’s asked for with no fuss at all. And apparently is already looking more fit and toned. He was shedrowed the other day (ridden around the aisle that wraps around the outside of the stalls) and acted like a pro, just ambling around totally unconcerned. He’s rapidly turning himself into everyone’s favourite. Today he went out on the big track and was perfectly behaved.

We always kind of thought he’d love being at the track, since he likes being in a stall, loves to have lots of activity around him to watch, and enjoys working. But we also all sort of worried about the fact that he’s a big cement head. I used to joke about him “being his head”. By which I meant that he was always totally unaware of the rest of his body. It just trailed around after his head, careening off doorways and people. Proprioception is the technical term for the sense of knowing where your limbs are. Jasper had pretty much NO proprioception after being on stall rest almost from birth (due to a fracture in his shoulder at seven days old) until he was a year old. I guess he’s figured that out now though!

 

Jasper at 6 days old, the day before he fractured his shoulder

 

Devil, Yes… Charming, Not So Much

So today one of our two year olds at work jumped on my head. I led Monster (registered as Charming Devil) out to the paddock to join his two little buddies (Winchester and Freeman, the yearlings). He walked out quite nicely. But while I was undoing the gate hook, the two yearlings came galloping up to the fence to greet him. I guess Monster must have gotten impatient with the slow human slave, because he reared up behind me and smacked down on top of my head with one hoof, and my shoulder with the other. I was knocked forward into the gate, which swung open and let the yearlings loose. I turned around and whacked Monster with the end of the rope, which couldn’t have hurt much, but sure did piss him off. He went back up in the air and started striking at me. He has very good balance I must say, because he can stay up there a LONG time. I couldn’t even get close enough to get the snap off his halter. I finally managed to swing the gate in between myself and those feet and reached up to unsnap him without getting smacked down again.

The yearlings were quite alarmed by all this and were careening around the courtyard for a while before they ran into the barn to visit with the broodmares. Winchester was very good though, and stood politely for me to catch him and lead him back out. Freeman just followed nicely. Good little boys.

The broodmares are all due to foal pretty much now. So they are all huge. But you’d never know it by the way they went out after all that. Snorting and prancing like racehorses. Big bellies swaying. Geez. What a bunch.

I have a bit of a headache, and a bruised shoulder. But luckily I think he hit me with the flat of his hoof, not the edge, so no major damage. Sure could have been a lot worse. When I called my boss down at Woodbine to tell him my tale of woe, the first words out of his mouth were “Oh My God… time to geld him NOW”. Monster has actually performed this trick (with a bit less accuracy) once or twice before, but never to me. And his hormones have really been showing for the last few weeks. Even William, the other two year old colt, who is normally much more dominant has been running away from Monster lately. He’s just been too rude and rough for anyone to like.

So it’s brain surgery for Monster in the very near future. And lest anyone think he’s named for his personality, no. He’s normally quite a nice horse, and very handsome. He was named for his exceptional size at birth. He was three weeks overdue, and just about the biggest foal anyone had ever seen. We always meant to find a real name for him. But Monster just kind of stuck. It was a bit more apropos today than usual.

Jasper Goes to Town

Yesterday our racehorses at work all shipped down to Woodbine for the beginning of the racing season. Seven of them are experienced racehorses. But Jasper is brand new to the big time.

He loaded up on the trailer with no real fuss. His eyes were big, and he zigzagged a bit in apprehension. But he loaded up and stood quietly. I heard later that he’d handled the trip fine, and unloaded calmly at the track. The biggest issue was that he thought it was completely CRAZY to have his hay tied up in a net hanging outside his stall gate.

He went out this morning for his first tour of the place. To the sand ring, which is quieter and slower than the big track or the training track. My boss tells me that he was absolutely fabulous. He went with Soupy (an older, and very calm mare) and jogged around about half a dozen times.  Three horses cantered past at one point, and he got a bit alarmed and stopped. But otherwise he never put a foot wrong.

Jasper is a bit of an interesting case. When he was seven days old, he fractured his shoulder. No one saw it happen. He just came in lame from the pasture.  He had to be kept on stall rest until he was a year old. He tormented his mother constantly while she was still in the stall with him. She was so sick of him by the time he was weaned that she never called to him even once when they were separated.

When he arrived at the farm (from the foaling farm), he was the scrawniest, weediest looking little guy ever. His head was much too big for his body. He’d been kept on very short rations to try to keep his energy level below explosive. So he was quite underweight.

Once he was cleared to be turned out (carefully), we started feeding him more. And he grew. And grew. And grew some more. He’s three now. And over 17hh. Grey. With a great huge long stride. He doesn’t look particularly fast when you watch him gallop. Too big, and too long-strided to give you an impression of speed.  It will be fun to see how he comes along as he gets fitter though.