On a pleasant mid-May morning, I made an astonishing discovery when I arrived at the lesson barn: Goldie, my instructor's Palomino Quarter horse mare, had cloned herself during the night. A small crowd gathered around her stall to witness the technological marvel. While the onlookers ogled and cooed, the little copy horse wobbled around searching for breakfast on the underside of the big copy. I've always thought Quarter Horses to be rather intelligent, but I had no idea they had access to this level of technology.
Of course, we all know that's not how it really works … Right?
But, honestly, I had no clue Goldie had been pregnant. I'm sorry, I'm just not that observant and no one told me.
This did not stop me from joining in with the oooers and awwers. Hallelujah, this is the day we've all been waiting for! Hallelujah, Oakley is healthy and he found breakfast! And hallelujah, I wasn't anywhere around when Oakley wiggled his way out! It's sooooo messy.
Amidst all the celebration, a wave of guilt came over me. Last summer, I rode Goldie in my instructor's fun show at the barn. I felt awful when I remembered that they gave me a crop to use on her because "she doesn't like to move." Well, no wonder. A pregnant anything should not be treated this way.
Then, I did the month math. The show was in July. Oakley showed up in May. So, backward counting gives us: May = 1, April = 2, March = 3…. November = 6 …
… July = 10.
I was off the hook!
Still, I should have known. At some point I should have noticed that a horse I see every single week was carrying a baby. How could I have been so unaware?
Back on the Hook
I spoke to my daughter Hiliary about this when she came over to pick up some of her old horse stuff. I wanted to clean out our basement storage area and her boxes were in the way. This would be a good opportunity to pick her brain about pregnant horses. Hiliary's credentials in the subject area are rock solid since she is both pregnant and an experienced horse person. Who better to ask?
"It was ten months ago. I'm off the hook, right?"
"Your math is good, Dad. But your biology is off."
"Care to elaborate on that?" I handed her a carton of folded up Breyer Model boxes. They're worth more if you have the original boxes.
"Well, the gestation period for a horse is around eleven months. That would put it…"
"May = 1… April = 2…. March = …"
"June, Dad. Just add one."
Ah. Pregnant and clever. Those two things usually don't go… ah, never mind.
"So you're saying I did ride Goldie when she was pregnant?"
"It looks that way," Hiliary handed the carton of folded up Breyer Model boxes back to me. We've had these boxes for seven or eight years, but apparently Hiliary thought it was too soon for the horses to go in.
I took her old western saddle off the shelf and handed it to her. "This goes home with you today. Why didn't anyone tell me?"
"They probably didn't know. Sometimes they don't know for a couple of months. Horse's don't show until later in the pregnancy." She held the saddle sideways with a hand under each end and her enhanced abdomen resting in the seat.
"Okay. Well anyway, you need to take these boots with you."
Hiliary handed me the saddle to take the boots. I put the old saddle back up on the shelf.
"Actually, it's good for a pregnant mare to get a little light exercise. It's not like you were jumping or galloping."
"Mainly because I'm afraid to gallop and I don't know how to jump. Here's your derby. And your saddle seat outfit."
She peeked under the plastic garment protector. "It needs to be dry cleaned."
We both shuddered. Dry cleaning is expensive.
"I think I'll just leave it here until Mom gets a chance to look at it," she concluded.
I found out what I needed to know and was feeling better about Goldie. "I think we're about done here, Honey."
"Good. I would like to get home in time to walk a bit on the treadmill."
I gave her a hug and she drove away without taking a single horse thing with her. That's okay. It's not like Hiliary is going to be using this stuff anytime soon. But if she leaves it all here for another seven or eight years, I know someone who will.