Sunday, January 28, 2007

Reflections of Foaling Season 2006 - the Twins Part 6

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

When Dr Gillette arrived that early evening, he had a load of people with him all wanting to meet the twins. They were excited, took pictures, laughed and giggled at the antics of the two foals. Even though the purpose of the call was to draw blood to check their IGG levels, playing with the twins seemed to take top priority.

They were both still straining to pass the meconium before the vet had arrived. and I had administered the other glycerin enema. Jack checked them each over again thoroughly after he did their blood draws. Now we would cross our fingers and hope their IGG scores would be good. Although with Vee being a maiden mare and having two foals to produce colostrum for we were not very hopeful.

The colt and filly responded to all the attention accordingly. They were pretty pleased to be the center of attention. From the beginning their only concern with people was that one might be getting more attention than the other one. The colt was more subdued than the filly so she seemed to be everyone’s darling but he still found his ways to get his share.

I worried about the colt. I suspected that he, too, suffered from dummy foal syndrome only his symptoms manifested differently than his sister’s. He had been the one stuck in the birth canal for over two hours with not only the pressure of the contractions but the added force of his sister pushing him from behind. It had been her position that blocked him from turning into the correct presentation and her body wedged against his had prevented him from aligning in the birth canal. It was too early to assume that either of these foals was out of the woods.

Mostly all these foals did was sleep. Even when they were hungry they did not rouse on their own, just like premature human babies, they had to be awakened to nurse and kept on task. While they were social when they were up, they just didn’t get up on their own. Even their bodily functions like pooping and peeing they did lying down asleep.

I didn’t leave them except to make my own trips to the restroom or to get food. Occasionally I walked a visitor out to the gate. But for the most part I spent all of my time in the stall. Sometimes I dozed off leaning against the wall with one foal on either side of me. That way I could feel them next to me in case either of them stirred.

Because of their fragile condition, I asked both Dave and Lindsay not to correct them in the usual manner for naughty behavior. While I didn’t want to teach them it was ok to do those things, right now I needed their antics to tell how they were feeling. So in the beginning, naughty behavior was countered with pushing them away. It turned out to be one of those decisions that would save the filly’s life.

Vee was adapting well to being a mother. She tolerated all of the company (and believe me there was a lot of company), loved her babies and watched out for them carefully. I don’t think she ever took a step where she didn’t look to see where they both were first. She gently encouraged the filly to nurse as we worked with her underneath her mom. Vee was a careful around me as she was her foals. She never stepped on me or bumped me as I slept in the stall. She did wake me a couple of times to let me know I was sleeping through feeding time.

By early evening, the filly was nursing on her own. She also was fighting my help less and less. She still wanted to buck and play but she was learning that maybe help was a good thing. When she stumbled out from under her mom and would go off playing around the stall, she accepted me directing her back on task with little resistance.

The colt was improving as well. He was getting steadier and steadier on his feet. He played with his sister some but his behavior was stll very subdued. He was beginning to figure out that I was getting his sister up to eat. He would rise with her, wanting to get to mom first. He would push the filly away and she would give up on nursing at all. So I would have to hold him so the filly could nurse. I was pleased to see him becoming aggressive about his food. That was a good sign.

For the next couple of days, I watched them improve. They were gaining weight and getting stronger and stronger. They still had to be awakened to nurse and kept on task but it was getting easier and easier to get the job done. Their IGG scores had come back and each foal was over 900 which seemed to be remarkable under the circumstances. I was beginning to think we were out of woods. I even sent out press releases about their birth.

Spending all of that time with them in the stall, I had lots of time to think. I’m one of those people who like the names of horses to tell something about them, their personality, their history, something. With these two, I struggled. I thought I had names picked out but when my friend, Wendy, had said, “I can’t believe you’re not naming her Surprise!” It got me to thinking. The more I thought the more it just seemed to make sense. The trouble of this foaling had all started with him so Scandalous Trouble just seemed to be the name for him. She couldn’t have been more of a surprise, so Scandalous Surprise it was. They had names just in time to tell the world.

Thursday morning a news crew from KOMO TV came out to see the twins. The cameraman took over 45 minutes of video. The twins put on quite a show. The reporter, Tracy Vedder, thanked me for sharing their story, saying she didn’t get to do stories that were uplifting and fun very often. It was really fun and the twins, well, the twins were stars.

I have to mention here because I am an Arabian horse owner and so used to the trash talking that is done about Arabian horses that it didn't surprise me that both the cameraman and the reporter had expectations about how these horses would behave for this interview. The cameraman wanted me to give him instructions on where to stand etc so as not to disturb the mare or the foals. I told them I didn't think there would be any problems with the horses as long as we walked up to them quietly and gave them all a chance to see the huge camera and amybe even smell it, they would be fine. Were they ever surprised to find out that Iwas right. The mare took that huge camera peering in at her babies just like everything else and the twins put on a show. So chalk one up for dispelling the myths about Arabian horses. The twins were winning hearts.

That afternoon the twins were unusually quiet. I chalked it up to how long they had been awake for the news crew and how active they had been. I figured they had just worn themselves out.

By the next morning, they were still unusually quiet and I began to worry. I took Surprise’s temperature and it was normal, I checked Her over from head to toe. What I found was a small drop of blood on the stump of her umbilical cord. There was no swelling but there was warmth. I called the vet immediately.

To be continued...
Part 7

For more information on foals and foaling Newborn Foal

1 comment:

  1. Mikael you do truly have a gift for suspense writing, now you are gonna leave me hanging til tomorrow!! This has been such an interesting story and you think about a lot of things the same way as I do. I have only been involved with this level of owning and breeding horses for 6 years now so it is pretty new although I have ridden most of my life. These are the first that I have owned and until I came here had never been near a foal or a stallion.

    Cant wait for tomorrow's installment.

    I posted some more acceptable pics today LOL.

    Glad your hand is healing, I know how it was when I had the stitches in mine and still had to clean out 10 stalls with one hand!

    Til tomorrow