The 2011 Sorraia studcolt, Legado in the foreground of a beautiful vista at the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve on Manitoulin Island
This journal entry will be mostly pictorial with captions, sharing with the world the arrival of the first foal for 2012 at Ravenseyrie. Enjoy!
March 5th after a substantial snowstorm
My calendar told me Bella would be looking to deliver her foal this year in mid-March, and the alterations in her body and behaviour concurred. The weather on Manitoulin Island this March, after "coming in like a lion" was mostly "like a lamb" with warm temperatures and sunshine quickly melting away the heavy snow that arrived in those first few days of the month. The horses were still eager to eat their hay, but were also spending now long stretches of their day grazing on the emerging grasses. A lovely time to be born.
March 19th, putting out morning hay, after the melt and thaw
On Thursday, March 22nd, I had been out walking and noticed that while most of the family band members were taking an afternoon nap at the edge of the forest, Bella and Altamiro were not among them, but were standing some distance off under a stately, weathered pine tree. Though a few days prior, Bella had me convinced her foal was going to come shortly after breakfast oats, she didn't deliver...and on this day, she didn't have that look of urgency about her at all. Nevertheless, seeing her and Altamiro apart from the others indicated something significant was at hand. Could it be that Bella had foaled or was just about to? As I got closer I could see a tiny dark head poking up from the ground, at least my imagination felt that dark form was in the shape of a foal's head. It wasn't until I got a bit closer that I could see, indeed, there was a foal laying in the grass! And crazy me--I had neglected to take my camera out on this afternoon walk!
I must have come just shortly after this foal had been expelled from Bella's womb. He was still all wet and quite compressed looking, with his "golden slippers" looking like they hadn't yet been walked upon. As I congratulated Altamiro and Bella on another perfect foal, the newborn got up and began stumbling around looking for his first meal. I could see that this foal was a solid grullo colt and after welcoming him to the world, I quickly made my way back to the house to tell Kevin and get my camera.
I was back on the scene within fifteen minutes, but already the new colt was on the move, with Bella nervously nickering and trying to keep up with the fast, feathered feet of her new colt.
I paused to take a photo of the place of birth:
and the expelled afterbirth:
and since Big Daddy was standing nearby looking so photogenic, I collected an image of him, too:
Sorraia stallion, Altamiro
By the time I had finished taking these photos, the colt had led Bella to the bluff's edge. The rest of the family band was now aware there was a new herd member and when I joined them, the newborn was searching everywhere on Bella's body for something to eat, finally connecting with the right location, while Bella's 2011 filly, Altavida stood nearby:
With the colours of the North Channel of Lake Huron filtered through the trees, Bella and her boy made an especially pleasing composition for a photo:
The spring break up of the lake around us had only just occurred over the night:
Above us, in the twin Spruces, a Raven announced the release of the water and the arrival of the new foal:
And the boy, less than an hour old, not even completely dry, was again, on the move:
On the move and already so steady on his newborn legs! All the Ravenseyrie foals are typically up and moving within the first hour, but this much balance and action is unprecedented!:
"To do anything truly worth doing, I must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in with gusto and scramble through as well as I can."--Og Mandino
Each time the colt would pause, Bella would catch up to it and try to complete her job of nuzzling and licking the birthing dampness off:
Bella the beautiful, Bella the proud:
And already, within that first hour, dam and new baby are comfortable mingling with the rest of the family band--never have I seen things with a newborn progress so quickly!:
In the course of the following days, Bella's boy continued his accelerated, enthusiastic exploration of his out-of-the-womb world. This, of course, included getting a feeling for the funny looking human holding the camera:
(Notice how compressed and scrunched this fellows face is. The concave shape will not stay with him, but he will fill out to have a more convex profile.)
My, what nice milk teeth!:
In all that this colt does, there is such expressiveness, zest and gusto. Here the colt takes advantage of his dad's nap-time to pester him without repercussion:
His older sister gets fiddled with while she naps, too:
When Bella isn't in the mood to for aggressive nursing, this colt expresses his displeasure with high animation as he petulantly tries to get her to reconsider:
After finally getting the meal he desires, our little man takes a nap himself:
Long time readers by now have guessed what inspiration we have for naming Bella's new colt. In Portuguese, the word, "gosto" (pronounced: gows-two) means many things, among which is "zest" and "gusto". When presented with the opportunity to be linked to the name "Gosto", this colt left no doubt that he was pleased:
And to confirm that we had chosen a name he really liked, Gosto put on one of his high-spirited shows:
And like his purebred Sorraia sire, Altamiro, Gosto likes an audience and responds with even greater vigour when applause and cheers are given:
Gosto and Altamiro:
Gosto is Bella's fourth foal, and perhaps her last as she and the other Ravenseyrie mares are now on a contraceptive program. Gosto is a full brother to Animado, Pinoteia and Altavida. What an interesting and inspiring fellow he is already, wouldn't you agree?
"Today is life-the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto. "--Dale Carnegie
Update: Photo sequence from April 4th
I couldn't resist adding these photos of Kevin and Gosto. We do not do any "imprinting" with the foals born at Ravenseyrie, rather we wait for them to initiate contact with us. Some do this right away, others take weeks, and on rare occasions (as with Encantara, Levada and Destimedo) months go by before they seek us out for a real connection. Typically, even for the shy foals, once they find out what great itches Kevin and I can give, they become fast friends. Gosto wanted to connect from day one, and feels very confident interacting with the interesting looking hairy man who helped me deliver hay on this day.