Last night presented a number of surprises and challenges that ultimately had a very happy ending. Our poor maiden mare went into labor around 8 p.m. and dropped the biggest foal ever on the farm (much) later that evening.
Fortunately, we have a wonderful vet (Dr. Janet Wilson) who we were able to reach and get to the farm within minutes when things got dicey. Long story short, the birthing process went on for well over twenty minutes with still no signs of a head. Luckily, our mares are usually predictable, quick and independent with their deliveries, but this was a maiden mare bred to a stud we had not used before and she proved to be all but. It became very apparent why she was having so much difficultly when we finally got the entire monster foal pulled out of her petite body more than an hour later. Remarkably, the foal was not only alive, but proved to be quick to stand, strong, adorable and surprisingly correct out of the womb. There are so many things that should have gone wrong with this difficult mix of circumstances, but a light was shining on the farm yesterday evening and we’re grateful.
This mare couldn’t carry the burden of this foal any longer as she had been trying to founder for the past 48 hours. More time in the womb would have likely created some serious health concerns for the mom. Although the mare was turned out at the time (we decided to leave her there as she was in a fair amount of distress and the dense grass paddock provided a cleaner environment for birthing than a straw stall), we spotted the foal coming immediately and were able to monitor her from the start and recognize the birth was becoming a problem. The incredible size and weight of this foal crammed into a 15.2 dainty mare should have created some leg problems or other issues, but apparently he was positioned perfectly and it didn’t. He was so big, he couldn’t figure out how to make his body lower, neck twist and body angle to grab onto a teat. It was 4 a.m. (as we were gearing up to bottle feed) before he latched on. Blood work apparently came back OK as the vet didn’t call (and indicated she only would if there was an issue). Wow! Luck sure came our way on this one.
Of course, you’re always a little biased about the foals you help bring into the world, but this one is very special. He’s coordinated, smart, strong, friendly, unflappable – and fun. In fact, one might mistake him for a foal 30 days his senior.
Doubtful? Here he is at 22 hours of age getting a welcome from some of the (canine) farm hands. Our mutts seem to get more excited about foal arrivals than just about anyone. How cool is that maiden mare (and she’s is very protective and possessive of this baby) to allow this?