Blessed are the Broodmares. There’s even a book written about it. I’ve been lucky enough to to retire two ladies on this farm, and I have an especially soft spot for them. Retired broodmares have value that you can’t put a price tag on and they are wise beyond their years.
This is a tale about a little gray Arabian mare that came into my life in a remarkable way.
I was super excited for my first foal. 100% sure everything would go great. Because that’s always how life works, right?
My mare is a calm, sweet girl. She’s my personal riding horse and I was taking a break from riding to raise a baby so I thought it would be great for her too. I carefully selected a perfect, complimenting warmblood stallion. The resulting filly was absolutely amazing.
Except Faith wasn’t sure about being a mom. She didn’t like that adorable little filly one bit. And neither was her body. Despite the filly being full term, she had no bag whatsoever. The filly refused any part of bottle feeding. We were in for the long haul.
Enter Stacy. She lived right down the road. And her colt had died 48 hours earlier. As soon as she got off the trailer and heard a baby she knew it was hers, and it was love at first sight. For both.
She was the best mama.
She even took her little gray filly to her inspection where she was site champion and acted like a she’d done it all her life.
When it came time for weaning Stacy’s owners called and asked if we’d like to keep her. The foal she’d lost was meant to be her last. I had become very attached to her over the last 6 months, so I immediately said yes!
She was put out in the field with our OTTB King, and my sister’s childhood horse, Taz. All was well for about a year until Taz started having some odd symptoms I couldn’t quite put my finger on. About 10 days later those developed into a full blown, neurological EPM episode.
It was so bad. I didn’t think he would survive. He spent the better part of a week standing in a field walking in circles. IV DMSO and steroids kept him alive in addition to EPM meds, but barely. We had several of those “end of life” conversations nobody likes to have. He’ll be 25 next year, so he’s no spring chicken.
He’s my last living link to my childhood, though. He’s been with me through it all. High school, mean girls, breakups, college, pharmacy school, my wedding, the death of my first horse, us buying our farm, bringing our baby home.
So I stood in my front yard and sobbed and begged him to not die just yet.
He finally slowly started to do better, stopped the God awful circling, and began to look like he was going to make it.
He was still somewhat neurological, and fairly weak so the decision was made to send him to my parents house where he could be spoiled and have a closer eye on him.
I knew immediately what buddy would go with him. From day one of his illness I feel like Stacy had considered him less like a buddy and more like another foal. She’d taken on another job.
From the minute they got back to my parents house, that little stoic mare would lose her mind if he got out of her sight. She never leaves his side in the field. Every night when they come in, she tries to get in the stall with him. For all practical purposes I truly believe Stacy thinks that’s “her” baby.
A few weeks ago, Mom called and said they would be late getting home from visiting my grandmother in Knoxville. I knew Taz had been having a rough week and the vet had been out earlier to adjust some meds. The weather was kind of crappy, would I mind to go over and put them up?
I drove over, opened the gate to their field and they begin to walk up the driveway to the barn. Every few steps, Stacy would turn to look at him. He was indeed having a rough time of it. She knew. She also knew she had dinner and a nice warm stall waiting in the barn, but she walked in solidarity with her friend all the way to the barn so he wouldn’t be alone.
It made me tear up. Many people are quick to castoff these mares when they’ve weaned their last foal, but they have SO much more to offer in life. The gentle spirit and kindness they’ve fostered over a lifetime of raising foals is priceless. I think I’m especially sensitive to it right now after speaking with a client earlier this week who doesn’t quite feel the same about his girls that I do about mine, but darn if I didn’t have to go in that stall and throw my arms around my girl. She won’t ever want for anything. I think that book may have it a bit wrong. Blessed are the humans that get to watch the Broodmares. Blessed indeed.