Buena’s story – how our foals are cared for from birth to rehoming

Senior Groom Steph introduces lovely filly Buena and explains how the team care for foals from birth right through to finding them a loving home for youngster handling.

Buena’s story – how our foals are cared for from birth to rehoming

Buena was born here at Glenda Spooner Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in March after her mum Chelsea came into our care last year as part of a large case. Chelsea was unhandled and extremely nervous on arrival, but by the time Buena came along Chelsea had transformed into a very friendly girl. (You can read Chelsea’s story here.) Foals who are born at our farms have a much better start to their lives than their mums did, arriving in a safe environment and receiving kind, expert care right from birth.

Buena caught us out as she arrived earlier than we expected and so she was born in the field, in particularly unpleasant March weather. We brought Chelsea and Buena in to make sure that Chelsea, as a new mum, had time to bond with her baby and we could also monitor Buena to make sure she was drinking properly. Our crewyards are a great place for mares and their foals at the beginning – they have enough space for new foals to explore and find their feet in a safe environment. Buena very quickly started to test out her legs and show off her moves!

Young bay foal with white blaze
Buena was a confident filly right from the start

We don’t know who Buena’s dad was and often foals born at our centres after their mums are rescued are the result of indiscriminate breeding, so it’s very difficult to know if they may have inherited any problems. However, receiving expert care from day one ensures them the best possible future. In Buena’s case we can safely say that being born at Glenda Spooner Farm has ensured she’s been a confident young lady right from the very start – such a contrast with her mum Chelsea being so scared when she first came into our care!

We try to get mares and their foals going out into a paddock for the day fairly soon and it’s lovely to see the youngsters exploring – especially for confident foals like Buena the world is a very exciting place. Buena was so small that we could pretty much “cuddle” her to and from the field to begin with, but once she was a bit older we taught her to lead in a “foal bag” – a longer rope wrapped in a figure of eight around her chest and hindquarters, which helps to safely get foals used to moving around the farm until their musculoskeletal system is a bit more developed.

Once Chelsea and Buena had bonded well and Buena was a bit bigger they started to go out in the field 24/7 and we put another mare, Victoria, in with them as a friend for Chelsea. The two mares were part of the same case and had been turned out together previously, so we knew they got on well. If we can turn several mares and their foals out together this means the foals have playmates of a similar age – some great friendships can form this way!

Two foals in a grassy paddock
At seven months old, Buena has taken three-month-old Izzy under her wing

Our foals get used to being brought into the yard with their mums from very early on – this means they get the chance to learn about meeting new people, such as the farrier, in as stress-free a way as possible right from the start. Our farrier checks all the foals in the early days to make sure they don’t need any corrective treatment – Buena didn’t, but it’s really valuable for foals to get used to different people in a calm environment as soon as possible.

I introduced Buena to leading from a headcollar when she was nearly four months old and discovered that as well as being a brave girl she learns really easily. Since our foals have been used to being handled right from day one, they’re used to working with us and learning new things – very quickly in Buena’s case! Foals born here have a great education from the start and when they’re old enough will be able to find homes as well-handled, well-adjusted youngsters who’ve only ever known kindness and love.

When it was time for Buena to start learning about coming away from her mum, she took to it really smoothly. To begin with, foals will be taken out of the field with a friend for just a couple of minutes before going back. Gradually this will be extended until both mare and foal are calm and relaxed when the foal comes away from the field to the main yard with a friend to stand in for a while before going back out again. This makes the weaning process much less stressful for both of them.

At seven months old, Buena is now ready to rehome for youngster handling and as a confident, inquisitive young filly I think she’ll be a firm favourite in her new home! Buena may be suitable to be backed to ride when she’s old enough but it’s always great to find our youngsters homes where they can do things like in-hand horse agility, in-hand showing (when Covid-19 allows!) and even go for walks with their rehomer to explore the world a bit more and continue their education on the ground until they’re old enough to be brought into work.

Bay foal with white stripe standing in grassy paddock
Buena is now ready to rehome for youngster handling

We always have slightly mixed emotions when our horses and ponies find new homes – we know our horses inside out by the time they’re ready to rehome and love them all, so it’s sad to see them leave. At the same time it’s so nice to see one of your ponies going off to a home where you know they’ll be much-loved and generally get one-to-one attention, whereas we usually have 8-10 horses on our list so can only spend so much time with each of them. 

All our horses and ponies do loading practice before they go off to their new homes – Buena has proved to be so confident with this! To begin with we have both ramps open on the trailer, to make it as light and inviting as possible. We’ll put a haynet in and also have some pony nuts (or foal mix in Buena’s case) in a pocket to help make it a pleasant experience. Buena walked straight in on her first go and stood there very calmly, so with a bit more practice she’ll be a dab hand at loading and travelling by the time she finds a home.

Buena’s mum Chelsea might not have had the best start in life, but thanks to the person who reported the situation to our welfare line Buena was born here in safety and has only ever known love and kindness. Having had expert care right from day one and a great education, her future is bright and I’m really excited to see her progress with her rehomer when she finds a new home. However, none of this work could happen without donations from our supporters – so if you’d like to help more foals like Buena we’d all be so grateful if you could spare a few pounds to support our work today!

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