Just as a little girl plays with her dolls and pretends to be a mommy, I have loved horses since I was a little girl and I pretended with many fences, stair banisters and backs of sofas being my horse. Teenagers who have a strong desire to become a mother await the special time in their life when they will marry and become pregnant. They will play with younger children and they will even babysit. This practice helps them to be ready when it is time for them to be a mother.
But no matter how many books a young woman reads, no matter how much she has been around children; there is still a small fear as she anticipates the birth of her child, if she really is ready. Will she know everything she needs to know? As many books on pregnancy and childrearing there are out there – none of us (not even our mothers and grandmothers) are ever at full knowledge of raising a child and totally ready for a baby no matter how much our heart desires it.
Couples may wait for ‘just the right time’ regarding their education and finances or ponder how many years they want to be unencumbered before committing, but even when they feel the time is right – the fear will still be there.
A dear friend is expecting her first baby and recently found out she is having a boy. Before finding out, she and her husband nick-named the baby their “little Duckie”. They have purchased items with duckies on them and it is so exciting to watch this young couple go through the first time becoming parents.
My friend is nearly half my age and I have dubbed her my ‘mini-me’ as we have experienced some of the same things or we like a lot of the same things. For her to have a boy delights my heart because I had all three boys and I had such a special time with them.
God knows what mothers should have little boys, little girls or both and when I was young, I was not patient enough to be a mother of little girls.
Little girls chatter and little girls are very emotional. When I was younger I was still very active and I wanted to be the tuff mom that ran, jumped and played with my little rascals. I did NOT want to sit and play dolls. Jumping off of fences, running, lifting weights, playing cops and robbers was more my thing.
I loved my nieces and I would play with them, but only out of love for them – because my interests were not the same at that time in my life. And I realized that I could only be around other people’s little girls ‘in doses’ because girls just like to talk… A LOT. Yes, I realize I AM a girl. Probably more so than when I was younger. I like being girly now. One of my sisters had both girls and one sister had a boy and a girl each and I had three boys. Each one of us were the perfect personality for who God would entrust to us.
Now I am a grandmother and I have a grandson and granddaughters. I am much more patient with little girls now and one of my granddaughters reminds me so much of me when I was a little girl and my whole family sees it too. I was very girlie when I was little and then it changed as I grew up and now it has changed back again. Oh, I still have had fun making up spy adventures with my grandson, but I also delight in fixing my granddaughter’s hair, playing dress up, and “talking”.
Now… I am about to be a first time mother again. No, not from my own body and not from an adoption agency. Well, sort of… but the adoption agency is a ranch. My husband and I are going to have ‘equine’ babies together.
I have ‘played with others horses’ and I have ‘babysat’ … but this will be the first time for me to have my own. After recently purchasing a ranch a mile up the road from us to board horses, my husband and I discussed having a couple of foals of our own to start out with.
One night, we both got up for a snack and my husband grabbed the jar of pickles and I grabbed the ice cream. All of a sudden it hit me – “Pickles and ice cream! We must be pregnant!”
It was funny, yes, but we knew it was a good time for us. I had researched a horse-breeding place not far from us that raised Tennessee Walkers and they were the breed of horse I wanted. I saw a colt I immediately fell in love with (because I love being a mom of boys) and my husband saw a few fillies he wanted to look at. We went to the ranch and saw a few fillies in the stables, but when we went out to the paddock where 11 babies were, it was there that we met our new ‘children’.
The girl who showed us around let us look at all of them and I still had not seen the one I came to see yet. Each baby was cute, sweet and beautiful but nothing sparked inside that said “This is the one” until I came to the one I had seen online – and his behavior towards me. While I was bonding with the beautiful Tobiano colt with sky-blue eyes, my husband was falling for a sooty buckskin filly. Trying to be smart to ‘look around’, he and I both would go to other horses and babies and pet them while we talked with the ranch manager.
No matter where we went, the two babies that we had a heart for kept following us around. My husband would be on the far side of the field and I would be on the other and the colt would find me and the filly would find him. We knew that the ones who stole our hearts had actually ‘picked us’ – end of story.
We knew that no matter what the asking price was – we had found our babies. Of course, being the businessman my husband is he told the manager that we ‘would be in touch’. I had to hold in all of my motherly emotions as we left our babies.
The fear began to set in. What if someone else came to see our babies? What if they were sold out from under us while my husband was being ‘a man’? My motherly instincts would not let my babies go to anyone else! I had connected with the manager on Facebook and so I sent her a private message telling her that we definitely wanted them, but that my husband planned to make an offer.
Being a woman herself, I think she could see what happened in that field. She saw what happened with my heart – and my husband’s. She was good not to let our babies get away from us in the few days it took for my husband to speak with her and make an offer. The price was fair and we committed to buying them.
The next step was weaning them from their mothers. I know we are talking about animals here, but God created horses with such a strong spirit and emotions that I knew it would be hard on them even if it is something that happens every day and it hurt my heart.
When your child goes to Kindergarten for the first time – it is as hard on the mother as it is her child. I prayed for our new babies and for the mares, but my heart wished I could be with them. I wished I could be there to give them love when they deal with the first thing they won’t understand.
Dover is too far for me to be there every day and now that they are weaned they will be started. It will take three weeks for the process as they learn to have a halter and are conditioned before my husband and I can bring them home.
We are just like expecting parents. We have so much excitement – I had already bought a halter and lead rope for mine before I even met him. I have read so much until my brain hurts. Each thing I read I think I will remember and know exactly what to do – yet that fear is there. When I am faced with this ‘being’ who has his own mind and things don’t go as easy as the books say or when I think of things that can happen and what I need to do to prevent them – I freak out just a little.
I am as worried as a first time mother about to give birth (or adopt). My husband is like a first time father – thinking of the costs, planning a timeline of what we need to do first… it is exciting but scary at the same time!
Being around children, loving children and even babysitting them still doesn’t prepare you for parenthood. It may help – but because we are all individuals, no expert, no book and no foreknowledge we can receive will tell us everything we need to know. And that is the same with being equine parents.
I can read until I go blind and I can hear others tell me the ins and outs and the dos and don’ts, but until I do it myself I won’t truly know. My husband will rely on me to be a mommy to his filly too so I have to learn about her as well as my own. Loving them comes easy – they are so beautiful and good-tempered, but meeting their needs and knowing what they are trying to tell us will be all trial and error.
As we purchase what little things we want to have ready – tack and grooming supplies, and we read all that we can until we get our babies in three weeks, our heartstrings are being pulled wishing we could have them now and at the same time we are scared we won’t quite be ready.
As I read about what a horse needs and saw the prices of each item, I hear a voice in my head say, “Good Lord, what have we done?” But that voice quickly goes away as I know the Lord made it possible for us to have this opportunity. He knows my inner most desires and what I have dreamed all of my life. He will equip me (and I am afraid He may even laugh at me from time to time). My whole life is full of laughter and I know I make God laugh as I learn things in this world. I just don’t want to do the wrong things that could harm our babies and I pray for the Lord’s protection.
Reading helps a lot, but I think I will feel better after I get to talk with our vet. When a mother speaks one on one with her doctor – she trusts that advice and sometimes the advice her mom or other mothers give her is secondary in her mind. And then there is that motherly instinct – the something inside that despite what books may say or other people may say, you and your baby speak an individual language for the both of you.
I will never forget when my mother wanted to let my son eat all the broccoli he wanted because ‘it was good for him’. I had already been through it with my son not knowing when he was full and he would throw up. His doctor told me I would have to watch his portions because he would eat passed being full and his stomach and mind hadn’t developed the satiety instinct yet. I had my doctor’s advice and my own experience in seeing my son get sick, so when my mother insisted that I let my son eat all the broccoli he wanted, I knew it was going to end badly.
My son munched on the raw broccoli to his heart’s content and sure enough he threw up all over my mom’s new carpet. Though I was a young mother, she respected my motherly instincts for my child. Each child is different and so, I am expecting that my colt will be different too. People can tell me the basics, but I will have to learn about my colt as I go and he will have to learn about me.
My husband’s filly isn’t my colt’s sister, so they may be very different and it will be fun (and probably nerve racking at times) to learn as I raise our new equine babies.
I think of their “teenage years” and just as parents worry over making sure they don’t become grandparents too early, I wonder how we will handle that time with our equine babies. We are not sure if we want to ‘let nature take its course’ and try to be equine grandparents – or if we want to ‘nip it in the bud’.
Since we are boarding four mares at our stables, I am sure that may pursued our decision in keeping my colt a stallion or geld him. For now, my husband and I are looking forward to bringing our babies home and loving them with all our hearts!