I headed as usual to summer pasture to check on the two mares with their foals there. As I approached, I looked into the pasture to see if everyone was where they were supposed to be. Both mares were visible but just one foal. As I walked in their direction, the mares started toward me, again with only one foal following. My blood pressure began to rise. Where was the other foal?
I greeted the mares and the older foal, then walked past them into the pasture, calling the younger foal’s name. The grass was tall, so it was possible the foal was lying down somewhere. I kept walking and calling, my anxiety increasing with each step. Then I saw the foal, lying in the grass, unmoving. Because I’d had a foal die earlier in the year, suddenly, without notice, my thoughts turned to the worst. Then the foal’s tail flicked. As I got closer, she lifted her head, and by the time I was by her side, she was on her feet, stretching her hind legs out behind her and arching her neck as she awakened. It took a few minutes for the anxiety to leave my system.
Both of my foals this year have pulled this routine on me more than once, yet my blood pressure still rises with alarm. I’ve wondered if they inherited unusually low blood pressure from their sire. Since I’ve never met him, the temperamental characteristics that he may have passed to these girls are unknown to me. His daughters are perfectly content to lay asleep, completely oblivious to the world around them, letting their dams walk off a hundred yards or more without being concerned for their safety. Then I remembered that one of their mothers did something similar once. It was the same routine on my part, six years before: walking faster, calling out, scanning the pasture, seeing a still form laying in deep grass. Then the foal gets up perfectly normal, while we refrain from chastising it for raising our blood pressure so high.
What helps my blood pressure come down, of course, is the same thing that caused it to go up. After the foal has finished stretching, and sometimes I have to wait until after it’s nursed, they come to me to say hello and get scratches in their favorite places. The sweet innocence is so captivating, how could I not relax and smile and enjoy! In the end, life with these ponies, despite occasional cause for high blood pressure, is a blessing indeed.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2017
The story of high and low blood pressure six years before is in the book My Name is Madie, available by clicking here or on the book cover. More stories like this one can also be found in the book What an Honor, available by clicking here or on the book cover.