The Mare and her Foal

by W. H. G. Kingston

The horse becomes the willing servant of man, and when kindly treated looks upon him as a friend and protector.

I have an interesting story to tell you of a mare which belonged to Captain I—, an old settler in New Zealand. She and her foal had been placed in a paddock, between which and her master’s residence, three or four miles away, several high fences intervened. The paddock itself was surrounded by a still higher fence.

One day, however, as Captain I— was standing with a friend in front of his house, he was surprised to see the mare come galloping up. Supposing that the fence of her paddock had been broken down, and that, pleased at finding herself at liberty, she had leaped the others, he ordered a servant to take her back. The mare willingly followed the man; but in a short time was seen galloping up towards the house in as great a hurry as before. The servant, who arrived some time afterwards, assured his master that he had put the mare safely into the paddock. Captain I— told him again to take back the animal, and to examine the fence more thoroughly, still believing that it must have been broken down in some part or other, though the gate might be secure.

Captain I— and his friend then retired into the house, and were seated at dinner, when the sound of horse’s hoofs reached their ears. The friend, who had on this got up to look out of the window, saw that it was the mare come back for the third time; and observing the remarkable manner in which she was running up and down, apparently trying even to get into the house, exclaimed, “What can that mare want? I am sure that there is something the matter.” Captain I— on hearing this hurried out to ascertain the state of the case. No sooner did the mare see him than she began to frisk about and exhibit the most lively satisfaction; but instead of stopping to receive the accustomed caress, off she set again of her own accord towards the paddock, looking back to ascertain whether her master was following. His friend now joined him, and the mare, finding that they were keeping close behind her, trotted on till the gate of the paddock was reached, where she waited for them. On its being opened, she led them across the field to a deep ditch on the farther side, when, what was their surprise to find that her colt had fallen into it, and was struggling on its back with its legs in the air, utterly unable to extricate itself. In a few minutes more probably it would have been dead. The mare, it was evident, finding that the servant did not comprehend her wishes, had again and again sought her master, in whom she had learned from past experience to confide. Here was an example of strong maternal affection eliciting a faculty superior to instinct, which fully merits the name of reason. The aid of a kind master will always be sought in time of need. The conduct of the mare speaks much in favour of her owner. It is evident that he treated her well. Had such not been the case, it is not at all likely that the animal would have persisted in coming direct to him in her time of need. Be ready, then, to fly for succour to those about you whom you may have found willing to help and serve you.