Weaning Day.

In the cool of early morning we lead the mares and foals out of the barn into a paddock we have prepared especially for weaning. It was wet down well to control dust because they will run for quite a while until they realize there is no way to reach their mothers. We have adjoining paddocks that make it as safe as possible for both the mares and foals because they are only separated by a six foot aisle way and some shade trees.
The foals first response of panic is quickly over as they learn that they can see and easily communicate with their mothers. The foals paddock is the smaller of the two, to prevent them from running full speed when their mother is taken away. Despite the best of preparations the separation is always a shock, and a brief period of chaos ensues.

All other work is suspended and I stay with the foals for most of the morning, hoping their relationship with me will fill a bit of the void they feel without their mothers. It was very gratifying whenever they suspended their crying to tell me their troubles. Phase one went very well.
This group of mares is being particularly helpful with the weaning project. I don’t know if it is due to their previous experience or the bond we developed when I rescued them from a living hell in Arizona, but they are wonderfully wise and perceived in an instant what needed to be done to restore calm.

It is tragic that their maternal skills are no longer needed in this world, but we have to face the facts. The planet is warming to the extent that food and water will become increasingly scarce; people in our country are economically stressed in a way none of us would have believed possible; and we need far less horses to worry about feeding. They simply cannot have more foals for the forseeable future.
By mid-day things have calmed down considerably. The mare’s food and water is arranged along the fence by the weanlings so they don’t have to leave them alone for any reason. The foals are realizing that they are secure and that their mothers are not leaving them even if they can't get to them.It is going well.

By evening we see the loveliest sight possible on weaning day. The foals are calmly sharing their meal while the mares are steadfastly standing by, and none of them seems particularly worried.
At ten o’clock I walked to the paddock and three of the foals were sleeping in the big pile of shavings. The other two came up to be petted,and all was quiet beneath the waning moon.Our summer has ended.