'Mini' deliveries

'Mini' deliveries

Staff WriterMay 20, 2005 

The newborn horse named Bruiser's Sweet Addiction is the square root of cute.

Addie, as owners Cherie and Joe Manderino call their new 20-pound bundle, arrived early Wednesday morning while a late-night talk show played on their bedroom TV.

The steel-gray-haired filly with a wide black stripe on her back stands about 15 inches tall from shoulders to hooves -- a skinny, leggy creature just the right size for a Cabbage Patch Kids doll to ride. She is the newest addition to the Manderinos' extended -- but small -- family.

It's the tail end of foaling season at Blue Chip Miniatures, the Manderino's 40-acre miniature-horse farm near Pittsboro. Little horses are giving birth to really little horses.

"They're fun; they're just little farm animals," Cherie Manderino said.

The mini "Minis" have the same proportions as regular horses. So without something next to the animals to provide perspective -- say, a person, cart, or even grass -- it's hard to grasp their size when flipping through Miniature Horse World magazine.

More than 60 horses live at Blue Chip Miniatures, and with Addie, nine out of 11 foals survived this spring after the 11-month gestation.

The Manderinos started with miniature horses about 14 years ago because Joe loved them, Cherie Manderino said.

Now they show the horses and breed them to sell. The ones with the best looks and pedigree can fetch $10,000 each, Cherie Manderino said.

"Joe thought it was a good investment, but we're not quite making money yet," she said.

It was touch and go for a while after Cookie gave birth to Addie.

While pregnant, Cookie wore a special harness with a sensor dangling below her chin. When she lay down flat for her approximately 10-minute labor, the sensor hit the ground and beeped Cherie and Joe Manderino, who were sleeping with the TV on.

The couple flipped the channel to the barn's video feed to make sure it wasn't a false alarm, then ran outside to assist with the birth.

Addie emerged from the birthing sack with weak hind legs that Cherie Manderino thinks were crossed in the womb. She was even more wobbly than normal newborns because her joints and muscles weren't quite right.

"I kept watching her and watching her, but she wouldn't get up," she said. "Last night I didn't think she would ever walk."

But less than 24 hours later, Addie's legs have strengthened, and Cherie Manderino says she's in the clear.

On Wednesday, she still hobbled a bit but walked up to Cookie to take a sip of milk before trudging back into the shade of a stall area and rolling onto her side for some shut-eye.

Staff writer Jessica Rocha can be reached at 932-2008 or jrocha@newsobserver.com.

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