June 7th WGA Equine's Arabian mare pulled a fast one on the experienced staff by foaling about 2 weeks early! Her handsome chestnut colt stood and nursed all on his own so he was vigorous and spunky however our experienced vet, Dr. Christy Cable had concerns about whether or not Minny had produced quality colostrum for him and also had concerns about his joints possibly being under developed. Based on her consultation with Cornell Vet staff, we decided to err on the side of caution and put casts on Mushu's hind legs in order to restrict the amount of "bouncing about" he could do...just for 3 weeks. This meant that even though he was strong enough to get up and down, the casts wouldn't allow him to do so. That meant that Mike and his amazing staff took it in turns to lift him up to his feet, position him to nurse and then lay him back down....repeat every two hours. Everybody ended up taking a turn and Mushu, not really knowing any different lifestyle was very chill about it. He did actually learn to lay himself back down when he was done nursing and towards the end of the three weeks could almost get himself up...even with the casts on.
The good news is that it was all worth it! Dr. Cable and her staff were thrilled with his "final" xrays! However, in order to make sure that his legs strengthened gradually, Minny and Mulan were still stall confined (in a great big stall mind you) for several more week. It's a credit to Minny's fabulous disposition that she was absolutely delightful for all of this, however much she was probably tired of those walls.
Eventually they got turn out in the indoor arena, then graduated to a bigger pipe corral outside and then on to the bigger turnouts outside! Mushu and Mulan have both been part of the WGA Equine Vocational classes, teaching the students about handling foals. Everything from having their feet picked up to wearing a halter. We try to halter and lead the foals once a day, and spend a lot of that time getting them used to being touched all over and leading from both sides. Eventually we start "mini training sessions" like ponying from another horse and leading over our trail "bridge".
Even though this "bridge" is just a couple of inches off the ground, it's a big deal to a baby horse and Mushu was feeling particularly feisty the day he first encountered it. Despite all his "airs above the ground" he quickly figured out that it really wasn't that bad. If you watch the video above to the end you'll see his dam, Minny decide that he needed extra tutoring. She was loose in the arena the entire time, enjoying a roll in the sand, but eventually came over to assist Mike with his training.