Idaho Elk, Mule Deer and Black Bear Blog

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Darling Creek Livestock mares

Spring Means Babies

Ten days. Only ten days until spring officially starts. The start of spring means different things to different people. Some celebrate with a Spring Equinox party, some start seeds in the house for the garden, some go shopping for a new wardrobe, some just crab about winter never ending. Me? I start writing foaling dates on the calendar and dreaming of the kind of foals we are going to have!

Here at Darling Creek, the first foal could come as early as April first. That’s only 21 days away! I always say foaling is like Christmas only better. You can look and imagine what’s going to come out but it's always a surprise. A surprise in color, size, sex, personality, and amazing every single time that all of that could fit in the mare.

I’m feeding every day watching the mares get bigger and slower and more miserable. We were originally going to have 25 foals in 2023. Two of the older mares didn’t conceive. They will go for a vet visit next week to see what needs to be done for them to conceive later this spring. Another mare had a foal way too early and another just doesn’t look bred anymore.

For the foals coming, there is a lot of excitement on my part for different reasons. We have 2 mule babies coming, one out of a new mare we purchased last winter that turned into a great horse for hauling outfitting clients and one out of a tried and true mare. My old faithful mare Annie, that is 27 , is foaling once again with a horse foal. Her foals are always the best and it is amazing she can carry a foal once again! Her oldest “foal” is 19 and her youngest – on the way! Then there are all the new mares we bought last year coming with babies. Will they be fillies or colts? Will they be bay or black or buckskin or gray? Hopefully everything will go smooth and there will be no rushing a mare to the vet or rushing the vet out to Darling Creek. I’m praying now that winter will break and spring will truly arrive so mares aren’t foaling in the cold. The mares and babies will be fine if it does have to happen in a snow storm, but I’ll feel better if it’s warmer and more spring like!

Our mares “foal out”, which means they have their babies outside and the babies jump up right away, grab a suck of milk and follow their Mommas on gangly legs. The babies from the minute they drop are developing feet and legs, bone and muscle, brain and coordination by being able to jump up and go. I’ve read that horses raised this way are called the “special forces” in the horse world. By the time they are starting to be ridden, they already know how to climb up and come down a mountain, cross a creek or a bog, step over logs and run on uneven ground. This is good training for making great mountain horses- ¾ of the battle is over before you even throw a leg over them. If you don’t think this is important, try riding a stall raised horse in the rugged mountains like The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. It is a wreck in the making. BTW, Darling Creek Livestock supplies all of the livestock for Wild Idaho Outfitters and Castle Creek Outfitters.

We put a lot of time and care into our stock from picking and raising the mares, stallions, and jacks to training them so they are safe and reliable mounts. This is of utmost importance and something we don’t take lightly. That horse you ride to your drop camp and you are frustrated with because you don’t have the skills is taking care of you. Unbeknownst to you, she saved a little boys life the season before when he jumped off too fast and hung his foot in the stirrup and was laying under her. She kept her footing and her wits about her when Camas Creek was raging in the spring. She is smart enough not to fall off that narrow crumbling trail. These are the kind of babies I am anxiously awaiting. These are the kind of babies that I have ridded their Mommas and Grandmas and Daddies for miles and miles through all kinds of weather and conditions. These are the kinds of babies, I put my kids and grandkids and outfitting clients on and never look back, because I know they are safe! These are the babies come this time of the year, I can hardly wait for them to arrive! These are the mares I am watching their beautiful swollen bellies, anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring and their Christmas packages! To me spring means horse and mule babies at Darling Creek!

Contributed by Kelly Swingruber (Wrangler for Wild Idaho Outfitters and Castle Creek Outfitters)

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