Cruiser has always been close with his mother Keeper. They stood across the fence from each other all winter and this spring when he rejoined the herd, she protected him like the baby he likes to remain. She was open so there was no new baby to mess things up for him. One of my sons and I have been trading horses back and forth for various reasons and when Keeper moved to his place, Josie, Keeper’s dam took over mothering Cruiser. She hasn’t had a foal of her own for years (I think she is 26 or 27 now) but has been really good with newly weaned babies at weaning time.
Since Keeper left, Cruiser sleeps at Josie’s feet when he is tired. Because she is boss in this herd he gets to stand right against the wall where there is the most shade and the least bugs on hot days. She is the lead mare and knows where all the best grazing and shelter from the elements are. He is learning from the best.
When the trailer pulled into the yard, and Cruiser whinnied, Old Josie behaved much like he was her returning baby. So excited and calling him and rushing to greet him. The whole herd was excited about his return but not like his grandma.
He plays with the foals and when they run to their mothers, he runs to Josie. No nursing involved but it doesn’t take much of a seasoned horseperson to see how much they like each other.
I too am a grandma. Like Josie and my human grandma friends, the instinct to protect your children and grandchildren is near the surface. Cruiser gains a lot by having that old mare around. I like to think I add some important knowledge and love and protection to my family too. I remember my mother saying that you aren’t done raising your kids when they turn 18 or 21 or 50 for that matter. And, then you discover, that love carries over to their babies.