Hello, my horse-loving friends. And donkey-loving friends. And mule-loving friends. And those of you who love them all.
I want to take a moment to congratulate Amber, the stunning, gentle, enormous draft who gave birth recently to a fiery colt, Fuego. Like his mom, he is magnificent. Shiny black coat; long, thick legs; pointy, alert ears; voracious appetite; curious disposition. Truly, he’s nothing short of a miracle—born to a mare whose past includes a life-saving moment when 13 Hands stepped in and rescued her out of an auction where she likely would have been headed for slaughter. Her past also includes a rough journey. But Amber is one resilient girl. Plucked out of that auction—where so many other horses, donkeys, and mules met tragic fates—she made it. She made it through quarantine. She made it through an arduous cross-country trailer-ride. And finally, she landed safely at 13 Hands, where she rested, regained her strength, and delivered this perfect colt who has everyone talking.
The buzz about Amber’s baby is palpable. Some of us have shared photos and video of Fuego’s sweet face with our friends and family. We’re itching to see him in person, to witness his development with our own eyes, to have the opportunity to communicate kindness and love directly. And some of us will follow him online, waiting for updates on Facebook and Instagram. In the equine community, we care. We’re rooting for this guy to do well, to seize health and strength throughout his whole life.
However, because we’re in this together, because we have a collective yearning for Fuego’s success, I need to point out that he needs more than our well-wishes. He needs a sponsor.
If all goes well, Fuego will grow quickly into a strong young horse, and it won’t be long until he appears to be sturdy enough to be put to work or ridden. This is a serious mistake. A young horse should not be worked or ridden until his joints, ligaments, and tendons are ready for that strain. This can take three to four years. Too many times, eager owners start their horses way too early, causing irreparable damage. The commitment of the staff at 13 Hands includes preventing that mistake from being made, so Fuego, or any rescue born here, will not become available for adoption until he’s ready.
This commitment—to give a foal time and care—requires on-going financial support. As I write this, four babies, all born at 13 Hands, are growing up on the property: Bradley Cooper, Cappuccino, Dash, and Fuego. As miraculous as that is, we need to acknowledge that each one needs hundreds of dollars a month to make sure he has the very best start for a long, healthy life.
So what can we do?
First, let’s imagine that it’s possible—that we can drum up the financial support they need.
Second, let’s get to work. Send photos and video of Amber and Fuego (or any of the mares and foals) to everyone you know. Send links to the 13 Hands website, Instagram profile, and Facebook page. And include some facts. Let friends and family know that babies can’t raise themselves. Let them know that responsible adoption of the mare happens after she’s done her job with her baby, and adoption of the foal happens when he’s had a few years to develop properly. Let them know that every mare and every foal requires hundreds of dollars each month for nutritional stability, shelter, and care.
If you hear that individuals are limited in what they can contribute, encourage creative solutions—perhaps group sponsorship or donations. Maybe two or three individuals can pool their resources to sponsor a mare? Maybe a company or organization can take on the cost of raising a baby to adulthood? Maybe a school club can fundraise for a foal’s first vet visit?
I’ll stop here. After all, we need to get to work.
Amber, congratulations on your beautiful baby boy. I’m confident this creative and committed equine community will take care of you both.