A lot of people think that this picture on the front page of the website is a romantic fantasy. In a way it is – but it’s also real.
On the twenty-third of June 2014 our cremello brood mare Rivergold Lumella gave birth at the incredibly civilised hour of 2pm. Most foals are born under cover of darkness or in the early morning but Ella was clearly going to foal that day. We left her in the clean paddock we had reserved as a nursery. We kept an eye on her, observing, ready to intervene if necessary but happy to let her get on with a job she had done twice before with no complications. She’s a great mum and an easy foaler and all went as well as we could have hoped. She had a quick and explosive labour and out popped a beautiful palomino filly foal.
It was a mild, dry summer day and Mark was able to take a striking series of photos that illustrate so well the instinctive and instant bond between a mother and child.
I put some of the photos up on my facebook page. Perhaps because of the joy and tenderness they expressed, they were quite widely shared. Exactly seven hours after the foal, already known as Angel, was born, I received a message from Poland:
I had no idea who this lady was but I looked at some of her work.
I was very interested to see what she might do with Mark’s photos so of course I said yes and emailed her the original full sized image she requested. Less than a week later, Dorota sent her painting. It made me cry (in a good way!)
One thing that I found particularly moving was that Dorota’s image restored Ella to her true self. That may sound a little odd but before we acquired Ella she had been seriously ill with what sounded to me like a severe case of photosensitivity. She looks in real life to have been in a stable fire. She is missing the tops of her ears and has scar tissue on her face, back and hindquarters – very patchy hair and vulnerable skin. I was told she couldn’t be wormed because she had significant liver damage and that she was difficult to keep weight on. Her then owner fed a lot of alfalfa, which in my experience has contributed to both photosensitivity and liver issues in a number of horses.
Ella also had three large sarcoids. She was feeding her first foal when I first met her. She had a fist-sized sarcoid in her groin that the foal bumped every time he nursed. It was a bleeding stinking mess. I shall spare you the sight of it but will never forget the smell. The other two were on her chest.
When Ella arrived with us in 2011 she went straight onto a clean and alfalfa-free feeding regime on 24 hour turnout. She received liver and immune-supporting herbs (organic Milk Thistle seed and organic Echinacea). After she had been here for a few weeks and seemed well and settled I had her bloods run to check liver function. Levels were normal so I felt able to worm her conservatively and she suffered no ill effects. My vet agreed with me, due to Ella's health record, that we shouldn't use the cytotoxic chemicals that were at the time the standard veterinary treatment for sarcoids. I prepared an organic salve which we applied to her sarcoids. Quite possibly because her immune system was by now quite buoyant, the results were dramatic. All three sarcoids were expelled within the space of three weeks. The photo of one of the voided sarcoids (below) is pretty gross so we've obscured it. Click on the photo if you want to see it in all its gory glory!
I have since had a number of horses here who arrived with sarcoids. Some of them spontaneously resolved within weeks of being put onto a clean, unprocessed diet in a stress-free environment. The others succumbed to the organic salve. I'll be writing a blog post specifically about my encounters with sarcoids in the near future.
These days, apart from her poor teddy-bear ears and the peculiar texture of her scarred skin you would never know that anything has ever ailed Ella.
She is a delightful, strong character who maintains excellent health although she does need some sun protection which she models in inimitable style!
She is currently leased to Chapel Lane Arabians in England. If all goes according to plan she will have another beautiful palomino baby and spend another season doing what she loves best, being a mum.
Just a little PS – when I say Ella is an easy foaler, she actually has one issue. The first two foals she had here, both times she retained her placenta to the extent that both times she needed veterinary intervention.
During her third gestation, I started feeding her organic raspberry leaves a month before she was due. Raspberry leaves have a long tradition of use as a pregnancy herb; improving uterine tone, assisting contractions and reducing blood loss as well as encouraging milk production.
This time round, Ella passed her placenta intact within half an hour of foaling.
Ella’s beautiful daughter Angel is now six years old and much loved by her owners, good friends of ours in Wales. She’s had a baby of her own and is in the process of being backed at the start of what will hopefully be a long and happy ridden career.
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