A group of foals huddled together at the far end of their corral. Stealing glances over each other’s flanks, they leaned into each other for security.
The babies were a mere 24 hours out from being ripped away from their mothers. They were bullied into a group and intimidated into a holding area. The next step, their comfort zone of space began to disappear until they panicked and jumped into a large dark box. Slam! The last bit of space extinguished, light filtered in from above their heads.
With the doors closed, they began their journey to safety. The trip would be quiet. They stood still. Occasionally one would nibble a bit of grass from the floor. Mostly they just stood. Little did they realize that fate had smiled upon them. They had just been spared a horrific death.
I arrived at the Shiloh Foundation in Lincoln to claim my four. There they stood, fannies facing me as if to say “Go away, leave us alone!”
Once loaded and on our way to the coast, we made sure to stop and do checks. Peeking in the trailer window, I looked down upon four little heads. One foal was lying down. The rest stood. No one bothered to look up.
Our arrival after nightfall was uneventful. It was the following morning as I made my way down to their pasture that we all met. The unwelcoming glances continued. They looked at me with utter confusion on their little faces.”What do you want?”
I sat down with alfalfa on my lap. Hmmm—ears pricked. I sat and waited, looking the other way. Many moments passed.
And then there was a step. One foal, the only colt, leaned his head forward and took another step. He stretched his neck as long as he possible could, all the while keeping his eye on me. He made the decision. He stepped again and took a mouthful, retreating so quickly that he dropped most of his prize onto the dirt. He crunched and stood, eyes on me. The other three observed intently but did not dare make a move.
From that moment on, this little colt has moved forward everyday into our love and kindness here at the Pregnant Mare Rescue. He is full of firsts: first to be touched, first to allow scratches to his neck. Definitely the first to rub his head against my shoulder while eating his hay. He is a sweet little guy who is going to make someone an awesome companion one day.
Courage to address the unknown is a gift. And to hold enough curiosity in your heart and smarts in your head puts courage in motion. I cannot think of anything braver than a soldier. And so befitting, I will call him Soldier.