She was picked from an internet photo.
But before she was even picked from that poorly taken photo, she had already stolen a place in my heart. I copied the phone number from the tattered piece of paper tacked around other crowded ads vying for attention at our local feed store.
I had no idea how this was all going to be pulled off. I just knew the time had finally come. The ad was for adopting an orphan foal. $350/foal. Health Certificates and Coggins, $62 extra. All the way in Kentucky. We did not own a horse trailer, had no barn, no fencing, no supplies, or feed. We had nothing except an open heart to adopt an orphan foal.
Which begs the question why was I even looking to purchase one? I was forty-eight years old! What kind of energy, and time did I have for raising a foal? Our kids were mostly grown, wasn’t it time to downsize for goodness sake?
Sometimes it does not pay to think too much, and I believe after my first phone call to Casey Creek Horse Rescue & Adoption I quite thinking about those little details. They told us it is best to adopt two foals. We did this, but ended up selling the gelding after ten years. Sometimes horses and folks don’t fit together well. That is a whole different story.
They told us the next round of foals would be ready for adoption one month after foaling. This round of babies were to be born in March 2005. Which meant we could pick them up in April 2005. Photos would be posted on the website of the available orphans. So we waited.
I knew all about her before I ever saw her. I had dreamed of her for many long years. I knew I wanted a filly, a buckskin, and one of moderate size. Didn’t matter if she had papers or not, I did not care. Momma gave me, and my twin sister, our own horse each when we were sixteen years old. A million dollars would not have made us happier. My little bay mare, Dolly, was fast as greased lightning. She had a super disposition. I could trust her with anyone. Yes, I knew what I was looking for.
When those photos were posted, I picked her out immediately. She was foaled March 10, 2005. We had to pick three in case they had been adopted before we got there. It was time to go. Only thing remaining was getting a trailer and driving to Kentucky. We had foals to pick up.
The borrowed bumper-pull horse trailer was filled with two stainless steel bowls for mixing milk replacer powder mix, two little halters & lead lines, a few brushes and $824 in cash. We were on the road. First stop was Mom’s farm in Clifton Forge, VA. She was all ready to join the excitement of a road trip for horses. Her farm hand would keep the place for a night. She sat in front with Bill, keeping track of towns, mileage/times, and fueling stops. Helen and I settled in the back seat of our comfortable GMC Suburban and enjoyed the scenery.
A cool evening greeted us as we made our way to the little hotel for the night. Next morning could hardly come fast enough.
The thick morning mist that had settled in the night was beginning to move out as we made our way to Casey Creek Horse Rescue and Adoption, Inc. The early sunshine seemed as excited with this day as we were. Jeanne was already out at the barn. She had a bunch of foals needing attention.
The farm was quaint. Makeshift stalls were cattle panel and such tied together to hold a newly arrived foal. There were tiny little foals in each small stall. Most were standing quietly in corners with little interest in life. Jeannie said they get depressed being taken from their mommas. I very nearly burst into tears to see all those orphan foals. At that point I wanted all of them!
Mom was busy asking Ken about the operation. Just where do these orphans come from? How are they fed? Is anything known about them at all?
Jeannie was busy throwing a rope over the neck of one of her big goats. Instantly the goat stood stock still while Jeannie milked her out. I was shocked to see that goat stand so still. Jeannie said she was an old milking goat and the rope over her head made her think she was tied! It was funny. The milk was for the foals.
Ken told us these foals were nurse mare foals. Their mommas are rented out to be wet nurses to the big quarter horse and thoroughbred farm mares where their mares may have rejected their babies or to be re-bred in their foal heat. Because these nurse mares had just dropped a foal, they were more willing to take a strange one. This leaves her baby with a most uncertain future. Thus began Ken and Jeannie’s work. Bringing these foals to their farm and adopting them out. Very little is known about these foals. They all came from different farms.
Suddenly, we heard Mom happily shouting. “Take a picture! Take a picture!” There she was, holding a huge old white turkey, pleased as ever with her catch!
The sun shone cheerfully in that barn full of foals, chickens, turkey, goats, dogs, and cats. I found my little foal very quickly. She was quiet, and was standing in the glowing sunshine. Ken put a tiny halter on her and sorta ‘led’ her out of the barn out into the yard. She was so tiny.
I chose her name from a suggestion Mom had made. She said she had a pretty mare years ago at riding school. Her name was High Hope. It was a perfect name for this little orphan. We were both so full of high hopes.
It was time for us to go. Time to start an exciting, new chapter of raising orphan horses. There would be no turning back. All the details would work themselves out. It was time to for this little orphan filly to go home.
High Hope was going home to Virginia.
March 10, 2020, High Hope will turn 15 years old. She has filled every high hope I ever dared to imagine, plus many, many more.