With Ciente no longer in corporeal form, some readers of the Journal of Ravenseyrie may be wondering how her filly Esperanda is coping with the loss. Esperanda is a little over three months old and even before her dam died, she has been supplementing mother's milk by grazing and browsing and munching breakfast oats just like her grown herd mates. After a bit of research (wherein I was surprised to learn that some large breeding complexes actually wean foals as young as three months) I decided not to bottle feed, or provide processed grain mixture unless I began to detect a decline in Esperanda's vitality and growth.
I had noticed right away that Bella (who delivered her filly, Altavida, several weeks after Ciente gave birth to Esperanda) was being especially alert to Esperanda, watching over her and allowing her all the same close bodily connection that she provides her own filly.
While I didn't think it was essential anymore for Esperanda to consume mare's milk, I did rather hope that Bella might allow Esperanda to nurse off her, feeling it would be a special solace as well as provide just an extra measure of sustenance. However, during those times that I was with the family band, I had not observed Esperanda even attempt to nurse and I assumed that probably Bella's extension of fostering Esperanda was not going to include nursing.
I was given a gift on Sunday, though, when I happened to be collecting twigs and bark to bring back to the "captive" horses and chanced upon the family band hiding out from flies in one of our many Cedar forests. I went into their shady grove and while I was just hanging out with them (and swatting away flies, too) Altavida began to nurse. As she was nursing, Esperanda also put her muzzle under Bella's flank, though she was on the same side as Altavida and could not gain access to a nipple. However, as soon as Altavida was finished, Esperanda connected with a milky teat and began nursing, while Bella remained as relaxed as if this had been all along something she had been offering to Ciente's filly.
It was a beautiful moment which filled me with tears of joy and thanksgiving.
I also captured a photo of young Destemido demonstrating another variation of the solace these Sorraia Mustangs provide for each other. As we can see here, the harassment of biting insects is made easier to cope with when one has a gentle mother (Fada) and friendly aunt (Tocara) to help brush the bugs off.
When the cold wind
Blows a chill through your heart
And the world
For always gentleness
While it doesn't at all replace for me the loss of my close and dear friend, Ciente, I am sure readers will agree-- this type of Sorraia Solace is soothing to humans as well as horses. I am very grateful for the generous nature of Bella to look after Esperanda with such tenderness.