When I first moved here the small herd of horses I ended up caring for (see previous post Coming to New Mexico) was pastured on four acres in front of my house and their people lived elsewhere. That December brought several early snowstorms and one of these was in its second day. My Jeep had been stuck in a snowdrift on my road the day before. As the sun came up, in the midst of the blizzard, I thought something seemed odd in the horse pasture. Then I saw what it was: four legs behind one of the mares, the blood of birth in the snow. We had a new little one. No one even knew the mare was pregnant!
I didn’t have a phone number for their people, but I left a message with a relative. A friend was visiting and, as I was throwing on some clothes, she said, “There’s a guy on a horse at your gate waving at your house”. It was my neighbor, Wally, come to check on me because he’d seen my Jeep. We ran out and told him about the birth and the three of us did what we could to save the foal, to try to make her warm, but the gate was locked and we couldn’t lift her over the fence. In the nick of time (the foal was beginning to freeze in spite of our efforts), Rickie, the horses’ owner, arrived with a key and we moved the mother, an aunt and the baby down to Wally’s barn.
Rickie and his wife had recently suffered the death of their adult son and they saw this unexpected new life as something of a sign that David was OK. They named the horse Davida and she will belong to David’s young son one day.
Most of these mountain horses don’t have shelter. They grow long coats in the winter and the strongest of them survive. Davida came at a bad time of year and, after she left the safety of Wally’s barn, it was out of our hands as to whether or not she would be strong enough to last the winter. The horses were moved out to their old place on the Llano where there was a lean-to offering some protection and little Davida lived.
Davida has held a special place in my heart since that day. This coming December she will be two and she’s almost as big as the other horses now.
This spring brought another new member to the herd—a little colt. The timing of his arrival was much better, which was a good thing, because he was born very small and somewhat weak and he wouldn’t nurse. Rickie had to help him get milk every fifteen minutes for the first several days, but he’s strong now, strong enough to face his first winter. And he has a big sister who survived her own hard times. She will have his back.