A New Foal At Blue Valley Ranch!
“Peppy,” Blue Valley Ranch’s cutting-bred broodmare gave birth to a healthy filly on May 7th. We have named the baby Little Red Riding Hood, or “Hoodie” for short. At Blue Valley, we try to keep births as natural as possible, so “Peppy” foaled overnight in a pasture with no assistance. The next morning, the filly was gently “imprint trained” (which involves petting the baby all over and handling of the face, ears, mouth, and feet). Research has shown that handling within the first 12 hours after birth has a lasting effect on horses, making them more at ease with future handling and training. “Hoodie” also had her navel dipped in Nolvasan solution (to combat potential infection), and was given an enema (to avoid discomfort passing the first meconium, which can lead to excessive rolling and even colic).
“Hoodie” is now a month old, and is having a glorious time with her mother in their own little pasture. She will be weaned in October, and will join the main herd a couple of months later. She’ll get to grow up as a ranch horse, learning to navigate water crossings and mountain pastures with the other horses. She will be lightly started under saddle as a 3-year-old, when her skeleton has developed enough to bear the weight of a rider without doing harm. As an interesting side-note, horses’ growth plates begin closing at the hooves first, working up the legs, then along the spine starting at the tail and moving toward the head. The final growth plate to close is at the Axis/Atlas joint right behind the skull. This growth plate doesn’t close until a horse is at least 6 years old, so horses aren’t skeletally mature until that age. In larger horses such as warmbloods, it won’t close until the horse is closer to 8 years old. We’re very mindful of this at Blue Valley, and we don’t ride 2-year-olds because of it.
“Hoodie” has a pending registration with the American Quarter Horse Association, and has cow-horse royalty in her bloodlines. She will have a job working with the Blue Valley cows when she grows up, but for now she is just a little foal learning about the world at her mother’s side!
Special thanks to Cameron Taussig for the photos and story!