Foals are too much fun

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Midge is the one mare at Halcyon Acres® that has always waited for me to witness her miracle. All the others seem to prefer foaling out without an audience (so I need to be crafty about getting there in time in case there is a problem without being a disturbance as they decide they’re ready). Oddly, Midge has always been able to time her delivery when she knows I will be around. Last night I was late on my rounds (by about ½ an hour) and missed her birthing (for the first time ever – this is her sixth foal) by probably about four minutes. She’s one of these mares that goes from start of labor to a foal on the ground and the placenta passed in less than ½ hour, so it’s hard to believe it’s a coincidence that all her births coincide with when she knows I will be there.

She showed no signs of an imminent birth. In fact, we even did a calcium test on her milk for the first time with low levels  indicated there was no way a foal was coming any time soon. Midge didn’t wax up at all. There was no restless behavior (never is with her anyway) or indication this baby was on its way. Yet, there her newborn filly was, bloody, wet and huddled in a ball when I made my tardy appearance.

This is a mare I’ve always had a special bond with. She anticipated our training time together at the track with so much enthusiasm she drew the wrath of all the grooms in the barn (digging a hole to China while getting the other horses wound up as she waited the hours before her turn – never did understand why she wasn’t put earlier in the schedule, but this was a big trainer with a system and she didn’t have a stall located at the front of the shed row).

Early on, I indicated to the trainer my interest in buying her when she was done racing. My intent was to train her as a lead pony for the youngsters that come in to Halcyon Acres® for under saddle training, but sadly, she was flipped into a ditch by a violent groom on her last race day. This incident caused sight damage to the right eye (among other serious injuries).

So she became a kicker because she was afraid of not being able to clearly see the horse in tow. Later, when I looked into her breeding (there was no reason to do this initially), I realized she had some super bloodlines behind for our venture into breeding Irish Draught Sport Horses. Of course, her conformation, heart (she had tons of it), size (she’s only 14.3hh – which was a plus given the size of many of the US RID studs) and beautiful head (yes, this is a factor in every mare we select) were bigger concerns, but it was curious to find Key to the Mint and Northern Dancer as Great Grand Sires, top and bottom respectively.

After making quick work of scanning the mare and foal to make sure no obvious issues appeared, I cleaned the stall and added another bale and a half of straw (it was bedded light figuring we had at least another week) and headed up to the office to send my vet and farm help an e-mail to alert them on the birth. I then grabbed some Novalsan® from the house (to dunk the chord) and headed back to the barn. The filly was up already, but the mare down (very odd for Midge). I was concerned about Midge, but it proved to be just a rest break.  When the little gal bounced up again after mom stood (probably 20 minutes after birth), she was up non-stop for more than ½ hour. This is one strong, healthy filly.

This spitfire filly is going to be gray (which you won’t see from the video, but the white ring around the eyes and nostril coloring gives it away). Even though a large percentage of Registered Irish Draughts are gray, this will be the first Irish Draught Sport Horse (RID X TB mare) at Halcyon Acres®. If readers are interested, we’ll keep you posted on her exploits.

Please indicate in the comments if you want periodic commentary and footage on this first foal of the season (yes, we had a horrid year in 2010 getting mares caught – gave up with one more due in July). If so, we’ll devote some time and space to including you as she comes along.

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