Weaning age question - complicated situation
We have a mare that has real trust issues with people (bought at auction in November, rodeo background, bought from the meat man) and she's due to foal soon. The mare is not mine, but the foal is. There's a very good chance that she will not allow people anywhere near the foal, but we'll see. She trusts me to an extent right now, but she's completely unreliable.
The mare is also on a farm where care is meeting all the basic minimum needs for a pregnant mare, but it's not my ideal by any means and I have some serious concerns about the care and safety of the foal until weaning. Assuming I wind up with a healthy foal, of course, I'm planning to move the foal as soon as possible (hopefully the mare too if the farm owner decides she doesn't want her, as there's an excellent trainer willing to work with her at the new barn). The current farm owner has three small children allowed to do whatever they wish (running around the feet of 34 horses), and all summer the farm is overrun with camp children that are not well supervised. I'm concerned about the foal learning to hate stupid children, as well as the safety of the children that run into the pen to see baby - the mare would seriously injure them. It also drives me up the wall that bales of hay are left in the "foaling pen" still tied - which leaves blue plastic loops of bailing twine waiting to break the foal's legs. These are just examples.
If we determine that we cannot move the mare (the farm owner is still deciding whether or not we can have her), when would be the earliest I could wean the foal? There is also nowhere at the farm to wean gradually, it will likely have to be a clean break, so the foal will need to be in excellent condition and eating on his own.
We're hoping to move both mare and foal to the new trainer when the foal is a week or so old, so that the trainer can work with the mare with the foal at her side. But, I don't think that's going to happen, and we're trying to be prepared for all possible scenarios.