Two years ago Dallas and I took 2 horses to a little auction by our farm in Burleson, Texas. Since the horses had to be at the sale for several hours we took hay nets and water buckets for them. During the sale we stayed with our horses but I couldn't take my eyes off this poor skinny paint mare with a new black and white colt at her side. It was a very sad site. She was several hundred pounds under weight, covered in black mud, and had several abrasions all over her weak bony body. Fortunately her colt looked healthy and bright eyed.
As the sale went on and our horses were auctioned off to new owners I snuck out the back door and moved our horses hay nets and water buckets over to the pen with the mare and foal. A few minuets passed by before Dallas noticed they were missing. At first he thought someone had stolen them and then, (like a light bulb lit up above his head), he turned to me and said, "You are gonna buy those horses aren't you?"
Needless to say we bought the skinny paint mare and colt on her side. To our surprise both horses were registered and there was a breeders certificate with the mare who was bred back to the black and white colts sire. Pretty good buy for $500 I thought.
The colt turned out great and the mare, Sky Jets Babe, had a big healthy filly the next spring. We bred Sky back to our thoroughbred stallion, Oro Negra, for a 2007 foal. While the mare was nursing the filly we noticed on several occasions she would nurse other foals in the pasture too, sometimes two at a time. We started calling her our milk cow.
We were devastated this spring when she lost her foal. The beautiful colt was born but died shortly afterwards. While crying my eyes out I remembered an email I had received a few days before from a lady in Denton, Texas who had lost her mare moments after delivering a healthy filly. She was inquiring about a nurse mare. I picked up the phone at nearly midnight and called her. Her filly was doing well and was drinking powdered milk from a bucket but that is no substitute for a mother. We thought is was worth a try so she brought the filly to our farm early the next morning.
Sky knew it wasn't her baby. She squealed but never offered to kick the filly named Ne Ne but she would give her a little shove with her nose to move her away from her. That wasn't our biggest obstacle. Ne Ne was very independent. She would pin her ears at Sky and had no urge to nurse, she was a big girl and wanted to drink from a bucket.
We lifted the water bucket to high for Ne Ne to reach and didn't offer her the milk supplement for a couple of hours. Then we patiently showed her where the goods were while holding the mare to build the fillies confidence around her. We had to hold Sky for Ne Ne to nurse for the first day.
The next morning I took my 13 year old son Michael down to the barn to hold Sky but when Sky and Ne Ne heard us coming they went to work without any assistance from us. From that moment on that filly was Sky's filly and no one could tell her otherwise. Ne Ne was still independent but under a very watchful eye of our wonderful milk cow.
Well, the time has come and we weaned Ne Ne last month. Now it is time for Ne Ne to go back to her owners in Denton to live her life as a Western Pleasure horse. We are very sad we're loosing her but so happy that in our loss something was gained. Ne Ne is a big beautiful filly and could never have developed socially or physically without the gift of Sky Jet's Babe.
Sky Jets Babe is bred back to Oro Negra for an April foal. I can't wait to watch her at work again the pasture doing her favorite thing, being a milk cow.