Today we have a new baby!! Our mare foaled a beautiful, healthy 70 lb filly. That is the end of the story. The beginning has a lot more to it.
Gestation for a horse is exactly eleven months. We have been expecting and planning for the arrival of our new foal for that long. The last two weeks, though have been an intense ensemble of preparations and building, planning and strategizing. This is not the first foal to grace our small farm. It is the sixth. So you might say we are practiced to some degree and have a clear idea what to expect and are familiar with the mare’s signs of labor. This a first foal for this mare and new mamas require more observation than a seasoned brood mare.
Well….When this mare was training two years ago (she is a thoroughbred and trained to race), she was given a procedure that stitches up the vulva to prevent air from entering the vagina during training and ultimately during a race. Ordinarily this procedure is reversed before the mare is bred. We were not sure if the procedure had been fully reversed. Corvette Man called the breeder yesterday afternoon to find out if he could recall what went down a year ago. After all, we have slept since then and some things just simply are not retained. The breeder had slept also and was as clueless as we were. He did, however, describe to CM how to determine if sutures remained and where to find them.
All this unsurety left CM very distraught, because the concluding circumstances could be fatal and this is a classy horse and the stud is even classier.
After all these years of working with horses, training and caring for them, living with them daily and knowing about them on a level unfamiliar to most of the world,you would think we would know the anatomy of the female horse intimately. NOT! It has never been necessary for one of us to do any sort of exam on a horse, except to inspect feet or the interior of the mouth. Other than that all examinations have been exterior only. After finally locating an internet site with clear diagrams of the female equine anatomy, we finally made a determination that the mare was not sutured and was in her natural state. We didn’t stop there, though. I had to go inspect three of our four mares to verify our assessment was indeed accurate. I’m sorry, I couldn’t let it go. The measurements of the vulva and the distance between vulva and rectum were textbook in all three, concluding our mare in question was perfectly normal.
I realize this sounds so anal. When you invest so much care and time and money, not to mention the emotional investment we put into our animals, we don’t want to loose a beautiful foal to our own ignorance. In the end, we learned so much about our mama horses we are now empowered for the future.
CM was greatly relieved at the finally determination and relaxed to have his supper.
We monitored the mare all evening. At 11pm she went into active labor and within 20 minutes she delivered the filly. Of course that was only after CM worried some more.
Foals present with the front feet first, one leg overlapping the other. Our baby presented one front foot and the other foot didn’t present immediately. That, of course disturbed CM very much. He watched and prayed (I did too) and with the next contraction the second little hoof protruded unhindered. The man breathed a sigh of semi-relief. He was ecstatic when her nose came through. After her little head, the rest of the birth was a piece of cake.
I have to preface these shots by explaining I took these in the dark. They are not in focus leaving me to believe the setting was not correct, set in a hurry, in the dark and taken by a sleep deprived, emotionally charged woman.
This is such a good mama. She cleaned her and licked her to initiate suckling. I am so proud of her!
This is this afternoon. She was too tired to stand by the time I finally pulled the camera out. As you can see she is a dusty brown color instead of the dark brown she exhibits as a wet baby.
So today we celebrate the arrival of our new baby. We ended up driving to Memphis to see family, just adding to our joy today. Finally at home, I fixed a celebratory quesadilla and settled into the bed. We are exhausted and grateful for our blessing.
This my friends is our piece of heaven for today.