Photo by Audrey Pavia
January is a special month down on the farm. It’s when we celebrate the birthdays of my two Spanish Mustangs, Rio and Milagro.
Rio and Milagro were born seven years apart, but their birthdays are only a week away from each other. Rio was born in East Texas, while Milagro in Southern California. They had very different beginnings.
Rio was born at Dryad Hill Farm, the product of a breeding program designed to create spotted Spanish Mustangs. His breeder intended to keep him as a stallion and use him in her breeding program until she became a mom herself and realized she had to cut back on her horse business..
So, Rio went up for sale at about 1 year old. His ad was on the Internet for many months, and I had drooled over his picture many times. He was the spotted Spanish Mustang I had long been dreaming of. But an additional horse didn’t seem to be in the picture for me. Then, nearly a year later, I came into a little bit of money and decided to go for it. Rio was still available, and I bought him sight unseen and had him shipped out to me three weeks before Christmas, 2009..
Two years earlier, in December 2007, Milagro came to me as a 5-year-old. He was born to a small breeder only 40 miles away from me. He was the third product of the same stallion and mare breeding but, unlike his two older siblings, Milagro was not a healthy foal. Shortly after birth, he developed jaundice foal syndrome, a condition caused when the mother produces antibodies against the foal’s red blood cell type. The baby is born normal, but becomes sick after ingesting the mare’s milk. Most foals that contract this illness die, and he nearly did. After a long period of intensive care, he miraculously pulled through — and earned his name, Milagro, which means “miracle” in Spanish..
After he was weaned, Milagro went to my friend Kelly. She broke him to ride and kept him until I came along..
Unlike many horse owners, I actually know the exact birthdates of my horses, and have pictures of them as babies. I know their complete histories, and don’t have to wonder what might have happened to them before they came into my life. I’m lucky like that.
In the past, I always found January to be a depressing month. I would get a bad case of the post-holiday blues. The excitement of Christmas had come and gone, and two and a half months of winter lay ahead..
But now that I have my January boys, I see the first month of the year differently. It’s a time to be grateful for the beautiful horses in my life, and the wonderful urban farm where I live.
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