WEANING. In the weaning of a foal, some take it from its dam the over-night, and put it where it may rest, and out of the hearing of its dam. On the next morning they give him some provender, as chaff, hay, or grass, with a small quantity of clean water. In a few days he will become reconciled to the change, and may be put into a pasture with other colt-foals.
The business of weaning will be in some degree more easily reconciled by permitting the foal to feed with the mare for a few days upon dry food: indeed, racing stock are kept in a state of nature from the time of being foaled to the time of being broke, in grass fields; well fed with corn as soon as they will eat it, with hay where grass is scarce. The time and manner of weaning, however, must ever be regulated by the circumstance of each separate case; therefore, no precise instructions can be adequate to the subject, but must depend entirely upon the discretion of the parties concerned. Where a mare has dropped her foal early in the season, has again taken the horse, and the foal has acquired strength and size, it should be separated from the dam so soon as the decay of pasture perceptibly occasions a reduction in the supply of milk : again, where the mare has foaled late in the year, and has not been again put to the horse, or where the unpromising state of the foal renders care and nursing absolutely necessary ; although the flow of milk from the dam will be very considerably checked by the alteration of food dependent upon the different seasons, yet with frequent supplies of good hay to the mare, it may be proportionally assisted; and with occasional aids of proper food to the foal, great advantages may be derived from letting them run together through the severest months of the winter; to evade the ill effects of which, shelter by night will very much contribute.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835.
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