The Little Foal That Captured My Heart


A picture of the newborn foal, Gardenia, with her mother, Rosie. (photo taken by Darcy of Bramble Hill Farm, Pomfret Ctr., CT)

Have you seen that commercial for Amazon Prime™ with the little horse that is outcast from a group of larger horses, and then the horses’ owner installs a swinging pet door on the back door of her house, so the “little man” can come inside whenever he wants to spend time with her? Then the little horse won’t be lonely, and his owner can pet him in all his cuteness. Well…this week some of the Rectory Equestrian Team members and I shared our own “cute little horse” experience right here in Pomfret at Bramble Hill Farm where the team trains. Mrs. Gould, the Equestrian Team coach, made arrangements with the farm’s owner, Darcy, for me to take the girls (Tracy C., Kerry H., Emily W., and Catherine X.) to the barn after sports on Thursday, May 25th, to see their brand new foal. Before we went, I asked Mrs. Gould to clarify the terms “foal,” “colt,” “filly,” and “pony” for me. A pony is a small horse that will measure no more than 56 to 59 inches tall when fully grown. (There are some breed-specific exceptions to this height.) ( A foal is the generic term used for a baby horse; if the foal is a male, it’s called a colt, and if it’s a female, it’s called a filly. (Before even driving off the Rectory campus, we had already started learning more about horses!) We knew the foal would be cute, but I was not prepared for just how moving this experience would be for me.

The little foal was born on Sunday, May 8th, which just happened to be Mothers’ Day. What an unforgettable Mothers’ Day gift for Rosie, the 6-year-old Morgan who is the proud mom! The foal, just a bit over two weeks old when we saw her, was named after Darcy’s grandmother, Gardenia, who recently passed away. As you may know, gardenias are gorgeous flowers with large white or yellow blossoms, so that name is perfect for this little foal who is so adorable, there just aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe her.

Within 30 minutes of birth, baby horses will stand (, so when we first met the little foal, she was standing upright in her stall. It wasn’t just her appearance that was so cute; it was also her spunky personality that captured my heart, as well. Gardenia is a “nuzzler,” and she poked her little head, with its little wet nose, into my side as I stroked her soft mane. She then proceeded to lick my sandal-clad ankles and toes, as she continued to lean into me with her small, but strong frame. She was very curious and checked out everything on my person, poking, prodding, and sniffing my pants, my shirt, my watch, my sandals, and my feet!

Emily had asked me if she could take some pictures of the baby horse, so she brought her camera into the barn. Once we got the okay from Darcy that we could take photos (I didn’t know if it would startle the horses.), Emily started clicking away. As she took some pictures of Gardenia, I swear that little horse was posing for the camera. She stood erect, with her head held high, and just stared at the camera. It was so funny, and I commented, “Gardenia seems to really enjoy getting her picture taken!” Darcy replied, “Oh, yes! She’s a little princess, and she knows it!” The girls and I kept chuckling at Gardenia’s picture-taking poses; she was a true little girl, through and through! (Note:Please check out the photo gallery below with more pictures of Baby Gardenia!)

During our visit the girls and I learned more about horses, specifically the gestation period and birth of horses, as we rattled off a series of questions for Darcy and her daughter, Genevieve. Normally, female horses are pregnant for approximately 11 months and 5 days. (Wow! They’ve figured that out right to the very day!) Rosie, however, was pregnant with Gardenia for a full month longer. Apparently, our little nuzzler was so comfy-cozy before her birth that she just didn’t want to come out into this crazy world. What a relief for Rosie when her baby finally did emerge after more than twelve months. Darcy had started to worry that something was terribly wrong when, alas, the little one arrived just in time for Mothers’ Day! (She knew what she was doing!)

I also asked if Gardenia was still nursing, and Genevieve told us she would nurse for at least 3 months. Naturally, our next question was, “How many times a day does she nurse?” Genevieve said Gardenia nurses anywhere from 10 to 20 times a day. She also explained to us that when a baby horse is first born, it receives important antibodies for disease protection from its mother during the first feeding; this first milk from the mare, or mother, is called the colostrum.

The girls and I were secretly hoping and wishing that baby Gardenia would nurse while we were there. We had no sooner verbalized our wish to Genevieve, when the little one walked over to Rosie on her spindly legs and started nursing. (Right on cue!! I love that little horse!) That was another heart-warming sight to see, as Rosie stood perfectly still while her baby was nursing. It looked so precious, my eyes started tearing up, and I got goose bumps on my arms despite the warm temperature that day. I remarked to Darcy how good Rosie was while her baby nursed, and Darcy said that Rosie is a very good mother, especially since this was her first offspring. Genevieve spoke up then and told us that the situation was quite different the first time Gardenia tried to nurse. “At first, Rosie didn’t understand what was going on, so she was agitated and squirmed about. Very quickly, however, she felt relief as the pressure of the milk on her udders began to subside.” Now Rosie is quite content to stand still and let Gardenia nurse whenever the little one feels hungry.

By now, you may think that I’m just an over-emotional middle-aged woman who cries at the drop of a hat. Well, that may be true, but I believe that anyone with half a heart would have been moved, as I was, upon meeting this little foal and her mom. It was an afternoon that I will never forget, for it made me “stop and smell the roses,” so to speak. Seeing that beautiful baby horse and the way she and her mother interacted – how proud the mom looked and how playful and engaging the baby was – reminded me of just how precious life is, how beautiful and sacred each and every creature is, whether human or animal. The circle of life is awe-inspiring, and we are all so blessed to be alive and to be able to share in life’s glory and amazement. Thank you, baby Gardenia, for reminding me of this life-affirming truth!