It was a beautiful early spring day and time for the afternoon barn chores was nearing when the phone rang. I answered the phone and on the other end of the call was the owner of one of the local thoroughbred horses breeding farms. After exchanging pleasantries he proceeded to state the purpose of his call. He had a mare which had delivered a live, healthy foal one week ago but for some reason she failed to produce milk. The foal had the desire to nurse and had drunk water, but nothing to eat since he was born. He said he was sure the foal would not make it thru the night but he had neither the desire nor the time to mess with trying to save him. If I wanted to try to save him and if he lived, he would give me the colt as well as his registration papers. Not able to bear the thought of that sweet little colt just laying there and starving to death, I said I would arrange to have him picked.
Time was of the essence and I arranged to have him picked up right away. Next I began collecting the necessary things I would need if I had any hope of saving the little guy. With my arms full I headed down to the barn to prepare a stall for him and then I made a batch of formula. Often the most challenge aspect of bottle raising an animal is getting them to accept the bottle, particularly if they have nursed or latched onto their mother at all. Once they have had the real thing it is nearly impossible to get them to accept an artificial imitation. If he had truly drank water, there was a good chance that I would be able to forgo the bottle and feed him right out of the bucket. I finished the stall and had just a few minutes to sit down when I saw a little Chevy S-10 pick up truck with a covered bed pull up to the barn. The driver got out and said he had a delivery for me. There in the bed of that covered truck was the most pitiful little colt I ever laid my eyes on. Oh he was so skinny and he was matted with mud and there was a weakness in his eyes that no one could miss, but poor as he was the minute I spoke to him, he let out a big baby whinny. That was music to my ears because it was more than a whinny, it told me that his little light was shining and he had a strong will to live.
I wasted no time getting him out of the truck and into his stall. I decided to first try offering him the milk in a bucket because it would be the best solution if he would take it that way. He was so weak he couldn’t stand up so I propped up his head and tipped the bucket towards him. He sniffed at it a bit and after just a minute or so he commenced to drinking. One hurdle out-of-the-way! After he finished his formula I tried to clean him up as best I could with him laying down. I knew if he were going to survive it would be imperative that after each feeding, (about every thirty minutes in the beginning), I would need to stand him up. If horses, even young ones, lay on their lungs for too long pneumonia will set in. That was one plus to him being so small, I could pick him up by myself and hold him up for a while. I spent that night in the barn with him and between feedings I thought about names for him. Now I know I say I don’t believe in luck but in those days I was a little more lax about it than I am now, and I decided that since he was lucky to be alive and lucky that he was sent to me, Lucky was the only name for him.
The next morning the sun was coming up as I woke from my nap and I was chilled and stiff, but I didn’t care. As I opened my eyes and saw sweet little Lucky laying in his bed of straw looking at me wondering where his next meal was, I didn’t feel anything but happy. We made it thru the night and all his vital signs had improved, he was hydrated and he had a twinkle in his eyes. It was then that I knew in my heart that he was going to make it. The next few days were a lot of work and I didn’t get much sleep but watching him grow stronger and healthier day by day more than made up for anything that I lacked. In a week he was up, jumping and playing and it was only necessary to feed him every two hours. When I did my chores in the barn, I would let him out of his stall and he would follow me around like a puppy dog. He was full of mischief but always gentle.
Raising Lucky was one of the happiest, most fulfilling things I have ever done and he was truly a joy. Lucky was a free spirit that loved life, even when he had no reason or strength to love it. Many friends came thru my barn to see Lucky the night he came to me and many would later tell me they thought Lucky had no chance of making it thru the night. Lucky grew up to be a beautiful horse, big and stout. I was blessed enough to have him until he was two years old and when it became evident that he needed a job he went on to live his destiny. I pray that my light always shines as brightly as that little colt that came to me and I pray that I bring as much pleasure and joy into the lives of those I touch as he brought into mine.
Until we meet here again, I pray God bless you and keep your loved ones safe.