Part 06 – What! More foals?

Part 06 – What! More foals?

Over a year had passed since we rescued a herd of unhandled healthy ponies, and it sounded like easy maths: 25 ponies plus 12 newborn foals equals a herd of 37 …… until…….

Until we drove over the paddocks one day – and couldn’t believe our eyes: there on his wobbly legs stood a newborn foal, next to his peacefully grazing mum! And then it daunted on me: the ponies that settled in so nicely and seemed to be putting on weight from all the good pasture were actually PREGNANT MARES!

This could only mean one thing: We had missed a stallion!

But wasn’t the vet sure we had castrated all in the herd?

I tried to think back to the day he visited and checked all of them, and remembered when he came to a very small boy with a beautiful red mane (we called him JARRAH) – which he thought could be a stallion already- he told us that this boy’s testicles hadn’t descended and he very likely wouldn’t be able to produce any offsprings. Guess we had to take that back!
Over the next few weeks one mare after the other gave birth again, and all of a sudden our herd showed a lot of sweet little foals with shiny red manes ❤🐎❤.

Originally we had decided to book the vet in to have the little boys castrated at the age of one year, as we wanted to give them enough time for a healthy bone development before we would cut off the hormone production.

I hated the idea of them having to face this procedure but I knew there was no way around it if we wanted to allow them to spend their lives together as one herd.

But now it was clear we had to do this procedure again one more time…….. So we thought 😆😆😆

05 – LAST is back!

05 – LAST is back!

For weeks the ponies had now been in their new, forever home, and had settled in nicely.

They explored every paddock and bush part, found their favorite shady places and declared one area as their go-to night quarter. Slowly they formed smaller herds, 6 to 8 animals at a time, and the first bachelor herd appeared too.

But still no news about our pony on the run, LAST.

Then, when we nearly lost hope to ever find him again, the ranger rang up and informed us that he got a call from a farmer who now had a white pony living amongst his sheep! We were told he was not happy and that he gave us one try to get this animal off his paddock before he was going to shoot it.

Two hours later, and we were at his place with the trailer, hoping so much it would be LAST and certain we would take any pony anyway, if it would only walk into the trailer 😟

And there he was, our white beautiful LAST, grazing peacefully amongst the sheep, easy recognizable by the old wound on his leg. The farmer was equipped and had his gun already on hand, showing that he was dead serious. Memory came back of how difficult it was each time to get LAST on a truck and now he was supposed to go on this trailer!

We hastefully grabbed some panels, built a small corridor between the fence gate and the trailer and ……… watched LAST running in there! To the day I am still amazed how he made it so easy for us, but I believe he knew exactly what it all was about.

So here we were, driving back in awe about what happened and understanding that this was the third time this amazing being has escaped the death sentence.

The sun had nearly set when we arrived back at our place, and we drove the trailer to the paddock where all our ponies had gathered, curious to find out who was neighing there from behind the car. We had observed before that the ponies had a clear job sharing: in case a new animal came close to herd, the males would form a line of defence to check out the “intruder”, and the females with their foals would stay far behind this line. So that was what happened this time again, only now the leading gelding (we named him ARNIE because he was one pack of muscles) walked out of the line and came right up to the open trailer.

LAST, still a bit hesitant about the new situation, slowly walked down the ramp, and then we were allowed to witness an amazing thing : both boys stood opposite each other, threw their head in the air and started to canter in a circle behind each other like in a beautiful dance!

Humans and ponies stood there watching this amazing conversation, until finally Last decided it was time to run over the paddock, only to be followed by the complete herd! And guess what: from this day on this wounded, isolated living gelding took over the leadership of all our ponies for years to come!

But the ponies’ story doesn’t end just there. There was one thing that had escaped our attention: right in the beginning, when we asked the vet to castrate all of the seven isolated stallions, nobody had noticed that there actually……. were 🐎🐎🐎🐎🐎🐎🐎….+🐎!

Part 04 – Moving to the Sanctuary

Part 04 – Moving to the Sanctuary

Seven months had passed since we became owner of 25 wild ponies, turning into 37 and agisted on someone else’s property, when we finally got the news: the beautiful place we were trying to buy became ours!

I remember the day the real estate agent took me to visit the property for the first time, 650 acre of gentle undulating paddocks and bushland, only an hour drive from Perth. I was immediately in love with this special piece of land, no doubt that this was were I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

So finally it was time to order the truck again, but I promised our ponies: this will be the last time, no one needs to ever take you away again.

It isn’t the easiest task to convince wild ponies to walk into a stock transporter, guess you can imagine, but we did quite well on the first day, having to leave only five ponies for another transport the next day, when all of a sudden our beautiful LAST decided he had enough and jumped the 1.6m high cattle panels and the property’s fence and disappeared in a cloud of dust into Toodyay’s bushland. All we could do was watch him and hope that informing the ranger would help to bring him back to us.

So we ended up introducing only 36 ponies to their new forever home, but it still was a memorable moment. One pony after the other came bolting off the truck, the foals trying to keep up with their mums, and when the last one had left the vehicle the whole herd gallopped over the paddock,stopped and gallopped again and again. We were happy to see that no one seemed to be injured and it looked as if they really enjoyed the new wide open space.

Part 03 – The herd expands

Part 03 – The herd expands

Slowly it started to sink in, after the experience of having seven stallions turned into geldings and integrating them back into the herd with their pregnant mares, that I soon would need a space for 37 animals as the births of the foals couldn’t be too far away.

As I never doubted that everything was happening exactly as it was supposed to, we got approached by a local who heard about the ponies and said his neighbor had a property of 100ac in the Toodyay shire he didn’t use at the moment, if we were interested to lease it for a while 😊. Oh yes!

So we ordered the truck, ironically the exact same truck that would have transported them all to the slaughter house, and off they went to spend the next months on this lovely piece of land with lots of shady trees and a beautiful lake to cool down.

This was were our first foal was born, and it was clear that he was LAST’s son. We named him MAGIC – his story will follow later. LAST by the way was doing really well, his wound started to heal and though he couldn’t put weight on his leg he managed to stay on the fringe of the herd without too much trouble.

So over the next months more and more mares gave birth to healthy, beautiful foals, and soon our herd was 37 ponies strong. As they were agisted an hour away from our place we drove to see them every second day and sat with them, slowly being able to tell them apart and giving them names.

Part 02 – LAST – The Stallion

Part 02 – LAST – The Stallion

Where were we? Right, there I was on Friday afternoon, over-the-moon happy new owner of 25 wild ponies and all I had to do was to find out where to place them. 🤔 

At the moment they were safe at the farmers property, but that was a costly version as he had to charge me the normal agistment fee x 25 !

But first things first, an important step had to be done: the castration of the seven stallions in the herd! We found out that all the twelve mares in the herd were pregnant, and the seven stallions had been kept already separate in a very small yard. So I tried to organise a vet as quick as possible to be able to get the boys out of this terrible confinement and back with their herd.

Have you ever seen a wild stallion at the peak of his years? Now imagine this times seven plus the stress under which they were, all confined with their rivals and away from their girls they were supposed to protect.

That’s what the brave vet faced who agreed to come and do the job. But he wasn’t faced at all. He turned up with his crew on Tuesday morning and went to work, turning seven beautiful stallions into had-to-be geldings.

I was amazed at the power in these not even full sized horses, at some point I thought the cattle crusher we had to use was going to break under their hooves!

But all went well, until we had done the last of the seven, a beautiful white boy, and realized that he had a massive wound above his hoof and his tendeons were cut. It must have happened during one of their fights, and the vet declared that he most likely never would be able to walk on this leg and that he recommends to have him put down. Everyone present agreed with him, but the decision was with me, and I clearly stated that I wanted to give him a chance.

The farmer told me that the boy seemed to be very clever as he was the last on the truck coming to his place, the last into the holding pen and now the last to be captured for castration, so I got my first pony with a name: LAST. And you will see his story wasn’t finished there.