Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sorraia Solace

Esperanda (Sorraia x Kiger Mustang), several days after her dam, Ciente died

With Ciente no longer in corporeal form, some readers of the Journal of Ravenseyrie may be wondering how her filly Esperanda is coping with the loss. Esperanda is a little over three months old and even before her dam died, she has been supplementing mother's milk by grazing and browsing and munching breakfast oats just like her grown herd mates. After a bit of research (wherein I was surprised to learn that some large breeding complexes actually wean foals as young as three months) I decided not to bottle feed, or provide processed grain mixture unless I began to detect a decline in Esperanda's vitality and growth.

I had noticed right away that Bella (who delivered her filly, Altavida, several weeks after Ciente gave birth to Esperanda) was being especially alert to Esperanda, watching over her and allowing her all the same close bodily connection that she provides her own filly.

Esperanda grazing alongside "Auntie" Bella

While I didn't think it was essential anymore for Esperanda to consume mare's milk, I did rather hope that Bella might allow Esperanda to nurse off her, feeling it would be a special solace as well as provide just an extra measure of sustenance. However, during those times that I was with the family band, I had not observed Esperanda even attempt to nurse and I assumed that probably Bella's extension of fostering Esperanda was not going to include nursing.

I was given a gift on Sunday, though, when I happened to be collecting twigs and bark to bring back to the "captive" horses and chanced upon the family band hiding out from flies in one of our many Cedar forests. I went into their shady grove and while I was just hanging out with them (and swatting away flies, too) Altavida began to nurse. As she was nursing, Esperanda also put her muzzle under Bella's flank, though she was on the same side as Altavida and could not gain access to a nipple. However, as soon as Altavida was finished, Esperanda connected with a milky teat and began nursing, while Bella remained as relaxed as if this had been all along something she had been offering to Ciente's filly.

Esperanda also nursed on the opposite side a little later

It was a beautiful moment which filled me with tears of joy and thanksgiving.

Altavida (left) and Esperanda

I also captured a photo of young Destemido demonstrating another variation of the solace these Sorraia Mustangs provide for each other. As we can see here, the harassment of biting insects is made easier to cope with when one has a gentle mother (Fada) and friendly aunt (Tocara) to help brush the bugs off.

When the cold wind
Blows a chill through your heart
And the world
Seems unforgiving,
Be patient,
And persevere,
For always gentleness
And love
--L. Gerard

While it doesn't at all replace for me the loss of my close and dear friend, Ciente, I am sure readers will agree-- this type of Sorraia Solace is soothing to humans as well as horses. I am very grateful for the generous nature of Bella to look after Esperanda with such tenderness.


Tanya Mills said...

I wish that words could explain the sense of overwhelming love that fills my heart when I see these pictures of the herd and hear that Esperanda is doing so well.

I know that horses aren't terribly fond of kisses, but please do give Bella a good scratch from me.

The photo of Destemido and Fada and Tocara is precious, I wore the smile it gave me for quite a while afterward.

June said...

That is a beautiful thing!

Annemiek said...

Oh Lynn this is so beautiful, I am not really surprised though. Lots and lots of wonderful things happen at Ravenseyrie. You have seen more of the opposite side of life these last weeks, but when I go back in time on your blog, the good and beautiful things outshine the bad ones. Still, the good and the bad happenings are all part of life. As much as we love to witness these great things, you are the first to state that there is always something to be learned from the bad, tragic events. I admire your strength in that.

Lynne Gerard said...

Tanya, June and Miek,
Thank you for your comments.

Tanya, I have indeed given Bella a good scratch on your behalf.

Miek, it is good to realize there is a balance between those times when thing don't seem to go right and times when good things burst out all over.

One cannot stay down, when overall life is so filled with beauty!

eva said...

Lynne, I am glad the wounds are healing. This post made my day.

Diane said...

Dear Lynne, I was so grieved to hear about Ciente, and I sent you an email which seems to be put in a waiting cue for you email inbox. I have you in my thoughts, and of course little Esperanda and the rest. Take good care, Diane

Lynne Gerard said...

Eva wrote: "This post made my day."

I knew it would help the rest of you, even as it helped me. It is such a beautiful thing to see the way Bella seems to have twin fillies now and how comforting this must be to Esperanda, to feel supported by both Bella and Altavida--who doesn't seem the least bit put out to have to share her mom in this way.

Diane wrote: "I have you in my thoughts, and of course little Esperanda and the rest."

Thank you, Diane. I know in a way, Ciente was your favourite of our mares, too. She was a wonderful Kiger! How I miss her!

I don't know why I haven't received your email, but I have sent you one today.

I appreciate your comments and hope all is well with you and your horses this year.