Reno and Twister Update

We’ve been soaking Twister’s foot to try to finish draining the hoof abcess. So in the morning, we leave him in the arena until that’s done. Reno stays with Twister of course, since Twister is his surrogate parent. So this morning when they were both hanging out at the arena door, I took a picture of them in the same spot as a photo I took of them when Reno was about two weeks old. He is now almost five months old. And look how much he’s grown!  Twister is 14.3hh. Reno will be dwarfing him in no time. The first picture was taken in the first week of April. Second photo was today (Aug 18).

Tales of Glory

All three foals have attached themselves to Twister (Reno’s foster uncle) at this point. The two broodmares have abandoned their children to him and spend a lot of time off grazing on their own. Esmerelda likes to nibble at his withers, while Al and Reno scamper around him playing. Reno sometimes gets a bit anxious when he can’t even get to Twister because Al and Esmerelda are in the way.

The farrier came today, and Reno had his feet trimmed for the first time. Twister came over to check things out… “Here now… what are you doing to that kid? Don’t be hurting my boy!”

Linda says she overheard Twister telling them stories of his past glory. Yesterday he was Napoleon’s favorite charger. Committing acts of heroism on the battlefield, and then being cheered by adoring crowds lining the streets in his victory march. Today he told them that he had won the Triple Crown. As a three year old AND as a four year old. All the kids listened wide-eyed and credulous “REALLY Uncle Twister? You are so AMAZING! We think you are the coolest guy ever”. Twister nods and humbly agrees “Indeed. Very true.” Linda says that as long as the kids are entertained… who is she to contradict his tales of glory?

Twister and the Kids

Twister is a black 3/4 Arab gelding who has been a boarder here for around 10 years (since he was a baby), and although broke to ride, he doesn’t do very much other than charm his owner (which he IS very good at). This year though, he’s actually got a job. I ponied him (rode King and led Twister) down to the Thoroughbred farm where I work, and he’s been babysitting Reno, the orphan foal for the last couple of months.

He’s got some quirks, Twister has. He’s easily the spookiest horse on an entire farm of racehorses. Reno is far braver than Twister, and has to lead the way every morning. Reno and I march along, with Reno happily surveying the world and looking forward to his day, while Twister snorts, bugs his eyes out at shadows, and generally makes Linda crazy as she tries to drag him along after Reno. He has to wear a grazing muzzle since he’s prone to grass founder, so he sounds like Darth Vader breathing through his mask… and looks a bit like him too.

I used to think of Twister as an easy keeper. And I guess that’s kind of true. But really, he’s just a pig. He eats twice as much hay as the nursing mares overnight. And if turned out on grass, he eats so fast that you’d swear he was about to start cramming more in with one hoof. The grass goes in faster than he can swallow and it starts falling out the sides. The boss calls him “that gluttonous little bastard”.

Twister looks like he ought to be sensitive, especially when you see the spookiness. But he is sort of thick actually. He hasn’t the slightest respect for anyone’s space. He’ll step on your feet, clock you with his head, ram you with his shoulder, and just generally behave like a big stupid oaf, despite being 14.3hh and rather dainty. Not to mention being smart as a whip, despite the stupid “huh? I’m standing on whose foot?” expression. Even if you give him a good thump (while he’s standing on said foot), he just looks back at you blandly as if to say “is that all you’ve got?”

Twister and Reno are turned out in the field with Bernice and her colt Al, and Exclusive and her filly Esmerelda (all three foals born the same day). Linda was a bit worried about Twister initially, especially since he doesn’t belong to the farm. She thought that Bernice would be very protective of Al, and maybe hurt Twister. But no. Twister just ignored Bernice. Even when Bernice spun around him, threatening to kill. He just kept eating. And once when he was trying to get a drink of water, and Al came to investigate, Bernice saw that, panicked and charged to get between Twister and Al. Twister, feeling that his space was being invaded, screamed and double barrelled her in the rib cage. Twice. Right. That was the end of any concern we had for Twister’s welfare.

But of course we still had some concerns about how he’d manage with Exclusive in the mix. She’s the boss mare and no one argues with her. But she’s home now, and Twister is just as bold and fearless with her as he was with Bernice. He drove her crazy the first day, marching up and staring her in the eye. I can’t say he intimidated her, since nothing intimidates Exclusive. But I suspect she sort of gave up chasing him away eventually. It’s just too much work. Turned out with the two broodmares, and with a field of younger mares in the next paddock, he looks rather smug…. if a bit comical being so small and with that big black muzzle on his face.

He sounds like a prince doesn’t he? Well… he is actually. Because he’s absolutely been a superstar with Reno. He’s never hurt Reno, even when the little devil jumps on him, pulls his tail, or bites his butt. Twister will occasionally hunch his rear a little as if he could kick or makes a bit of a face (when Reno is being truly horrid), but that’s it. Reno adores Twister. He seems just as attached to him as any foal would be to his mother. He grazes near him, sleeps near him. And runs back to him when anything worries him.

When Linda goes out with milk replacer for Reno, he comes running to the gate, whinnying (it’s extremely cute!). Unfortunately sometimes other horses come too. Which can be a bit chaotic and makes it difficult for Reno to eat. But Twister, bless his little soul, sighs and marches over, “Here now! Move along. The kid needs to eat.” Even with Al, who wants to play with Reno, Twister just gently suggests that he go see his mom. And Al goes. Then Twister goes back to eating grass… “Right, my work here is done”.

Nursery News

The foals are all doing very well now. The orphan has tentatively been named Reno. One of his older brothers is Vegas, so it’s rather apt. He has a ton of personality. Or perhaps just an enormous ego with all the attention he gets. He does a little hungry dance at the door of his stall and nickers wildly whenever he sees or hears any human within range. He’s a bottomless pit. Not sure how many bottles he’s drinking in 24 hours, but Linda counted 27 during the day yesterday, which doesn’t include the night shift. She is spending most of her day purely as a milk assembly line for him.

He does have a bit of diarrhea, and we fed him some probiotics this morning. He did NOT approve of the flavour. And wow… he sure tells you how he feels. He was MAD. Bucking and spinning and trying to kick me as I left the stall (I wasn’t moving too slow either!).

Esmerelda, Exclusive's filly

The little filly has been named Esmerelda. She was cute when she was born, as all foals are. But she’s gorgeous now that she’s filled out a little bit. This filly is by far the most athletic of the three foals. She did a series figure 8s today around the pole at the center of the arena and her mom that were just lovely. Then she got excited and did flying lead changes, including some on every stride. Canter, canter, change! canter, canter, change! canter, change! change! change! canter. And every stride was perfect. She’s a little saucepot too.

Al, the chestnut colt has really come along. He was really quite stupid the first few days. But he’s perked up a lot and is now much brighter and more aware of everything around him. Today he stretched his legs in the arena and really ran. He doesn’t have Esmerelda’s agility and lightness, but he’s going to have a big, powerful stride and appears to be quite fast. And he’s very handsome now.

I keep meaning to take more pictures, but I just haven’t had much time. I will try to take more over the next few days.

Orphan Baby

Freckles’ colt is doing very well. He doesn’t have a name yet, so I’m just calling him “the Kid”.

He eats like a… well… a horse. He just keeps sucking back bottle after bottle. There was never one moment of hesitation from him about what it was or how to operate it. We stuck that bottle in his mouth and he downed it. No problem. I expect we’ll be able to switch him to a bucket quite easily. When he’s hungry he lets us all know at top volume.

The vet did not encourage the idea of a nurse mare. He has seen a lot of problems getting mares to accept an orphan and doesn’t think it’s worth the risk. So yesterday afternoon, Linda drove me home and I walked my pony, Nikita, back to the farm to be his companion. It’s around 2.5 miles. Nikita hasn’t done a lick of work for a couple of years, and she’s a teeny bit lazy. So we started out with her doing a little dancing trot beside me. Ears perked. Looking too cute for words. She’s 14.1hh, black, with a long thick mane and tail. About a mile and a half down the road, I think she must’ve gotten tired. Because she just totally deflated. Whoomph. “Holy cow” she tells me “how far are we going? I’m not an endurance pony you know!”

At the farm, we got her set up in a temporary stall outside the foal’s stall. She was a bit scared of him at first. I don’t think she’s ever seen a baby before. She made faces at him, and nipped him once. But since then she’s gotten steadily friendlier to him. He loves her already. When she moves off to the side of the door and gets out of his sight, he worries and calls to her. So we are all hopeful that it will work out. With any luck, she’ll help to socialize him to horses, and not so much to people. And teach him manners when he gets a bit older and ruder (as boys do).

The other two foals are also doing very well. Exclusive’s filly is amazingly smart and physically very agile. She’s not overly big. But she was up before the mare after she was born, and was able to trot a few steps within a few minutes after getting up. Within 24 hours, she was trotting and cantering laps around her napping mother in the stall. This morning she was practicing her bucking (the boss was especially happy to hear that). And this afternoon she was working on her flying lead changes. By tomorrow I’m sure we’ll see the first stages of piaffe.

The chestnut colt is very leggy and is a lot handsomer than the first photos show. But I must admit he’s not quite so smart as the other two. We have trouble getting him to go anywhere with his mother. There’s quite a bit of foal wrestling to get him to move along. Bernice, his mother, is not quite so obnoxious as she was the first day. So I’ve stopped calling her rude names.