For us humans, a birth is often a tender moment witnessed by only a few. However, when one horse delivered her foal, she sparked the interest of the rest of her herd. And soon enough, she and her child were surrounded by the other horses.
Double Diamond Ranch is a horse farm in Blair, Nebraska. Founded by Scott and Sarah Wehrmann in 2005, the ranch specializes in raising rare Azteca horses – a beautiful breed originating from Mexico and which is known for its intellect and litheness.
Specifically, the Aztecas at Double Diamond Ranch are a mix of Andalusian horses and Quarter Horses. And according to the farm’s website, each of its equines comes from a long line of prestigious competitors. The animals apparently also possess a “quiet confidence” and a serenity in a variety of situations.
Furthermore, it is important for the Wehrmanns that their horses have the chance to properly socialize. The animals are therefore allowed to roam free on the ranch and live in a herd; and this also means that young foals can study natural skills and behaviors from the older horses on the farm.
But, as with most animals, the first and most important teacher a newborn will have is its mother. It is a mare’s duty not only to keep her baby safe but also to educate it on the social hierarchy of the herd and help the foal find its place in the pecking order.
With that in mind, when one of Scott and Sarah’s mares fell pregnant at Double Diamond Ranch, the horse had a big task ahead of her. First of all, though, there was the labor for her to get through – and, luckily for us, someone was there to capture the magical moment that the foal entered the world on camera.
And in the resulting footage, the newborn foal can be seen lying on the ground still inside its gestational sac. But there’s no time for the baby to have an intimate moment alone with its mother, as a large crowd begins to gather while the mare continues to deliver her afterbirth.
The spectators are made up of other members of the herd, all of which appear to be eager to catch a glimpse of their newest stablemate. And the horses continue to watch as the mom starts cleaning her baby’s brown fur – regardless of the fact that they may be intruding on a tender scene.
However, the mother continues with her task despite her audience. Licking her newborn clean is the first sign that the mare’s maternal instincts are kicking in, in fact – and it may also suggest that this foal isn’t going to be rejected.
Then, while the mare is preoccupied with removing all traces of her baby’s sac, two other horses from the herd take the opportunity to creep ever nearer to the foal. But when the intruders overstep the mark by sniffing the child too closely, its mother whinnies – as if warning them to back off.
And it’s not unusual for mares to be protective over their foals – even around their herd mates. If another horse gets too close to her baby, a mare may attempt to move the individual along. If that doesn’t work, however, the mom may resort to more threatening actions.
Yes, a mare may strike out or bite another horse – or a human, for that matter – if she believes that they are a danger to her foal. Before lashing out, horses will often adopt threatening postures, such as pinning their ears.
Luckily, the offending horses at the Double Diamond Ranch seem to take note of the mom’s warning, and soon she is left alone with her baby once more. The pair’s solitude doesn’t last for long, though; later, they are joined by a whole string of horses that the mare is forced to fend off once more.
Then, when the mare finally has some space, she continues in her maternal duties – this time, by eating the afterbirth. But while this may seem unpalatable to us humans, the consumption of the placenta is completely normal for animals. It’s thought that this process helps to hide any sign of the birth from potential predators.
And with most of the sac finally removed, the foal is able to stretch out its legs. Horses are born with relatively long limbs so that they are able to escape from predators – should they need to – as quickly after their births as possible.
However, before it would be able to escape the clutches of hungry hunters, the foal at the Double Diamond Ranch would first need to find its feet. Luckily, horses are precocial, meaning they are comparatively mobile practically as soon as they’re born.
And for equines, this means that they will generally stand even though they may be just minutes old. The foal in the video is no different in that respect; and after a few failed attempts, the little horse finally manages to drag itself up onto its shaky legs.
Then, when the foal finally makes it onto its feet, the milestone is celebrated by someone off camera. Speaking for the first time since the recording began, a woman spectating can be heard saying, “Oh, good! He just made it.”
After that, the enchanting video comes to an end as the mother and her foal continue to bond. And, unsurprisingly, the clip has garnered its fair share of attention; since it appeared on Sarah Wehrmann’s YouTube channel in 2009, in fact, it has attracted over 271,000 views.
Among the many people to watch the touching footage of the mare and her foal was YouTube user Becky. Summing up the video, she commented, “This is stunningly beautiful. One of my favorite parts was when mom gave the other horses a piece of her mind – ‘Get away from my baby and get out of my business!’ Kinda reminds me of how humans react to a friend’s new baby. Everybody’s gonna tell [you] what to do.”