Saturday, January 27, 2007

Reflections of Foaling Season 2006 - The Twins Part 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I watched the twins as they slept, making sure that the filly stayed in an upright position on her sternum to assist her in breathing and making sure the mare didn’t step on either one of them. Vee actually did incredibly well considering the circumstances. All the activity and people in her stall didn’t ever rattle her. She stayed quiet and calm through everything. Even if we would take a foal out of her view, she trusted us and didn’t panic. Sometimes she knickered softly telling her foal she was close by. She really behaved more like a seasoned broodmare than a maiden mare with her first foals. I wonder if she will be confused when she only has one foal since two is normal for her.

When it was time we began the second round of teaching them to nurse and bottle feeding. The filly was just as adamant about not wanting to be guided anywhere that we wanted her to go so we again struggled even trying to get her underneath the mare.

While she wasn’t learning how to nurse, she was getting great lessons in how to use her legs. Besides jumping and kicking she was learning to romp around the stall in a pretty stable manner for a healthy foal let alone one with her history. We kept at it until we got her in the neighborhood of her mother’s udder and then released her. This time she stayed for a brief instance and even bumped at the udder once but then she was off and gone, exploring the world.

We let her explore while we milked the mare and then approached her with the bottle. She immediately put up a fight until she saw the bottle right in front of her. She latched onto it and pulled back with such force she tipped over backwards and landed in a heap, all the while, sucking the air looking for the bottle. Even with the determination she had to drink the bottle, she would either fall asleep like the colt or get distracted. She had to be constantly reminded to stay on track and finish her meal. If we could get it down her in twenty minutes or so we were doing well.

We moved on to the colt and found him more willing to get up this time. He was willing to seek out the mare with our direction and try to nurse. He was very wobbly on his legs and had to be supported to stay standing but he actively tried to find the mare’s udder and was even successful for a moment at latching onto her. When he fell between her back legs and laid his head down to sleep there, we carefully lifted one of the mare’s legs and pulled him out and gave him his bottle.

By the third feeding, they were both getting the hang of the procedure. Even the filly willing headed underneath the mare and attempted rooting around for the mare’s udder. However, it was easy for her frustration to get the better of her and she stumbled off kicking and bucking not happy with her results. Then she wanted to flop down and be feed lying down. We made her stand up to drink her bottle amidst her avid complaints. Striking and shaking her head while still trying to nurse from the bottle, she clearly objected to our terms. Her protesting looked like a fish flopping on a line stuck on the hook. While it look hilarious,it was dangerous and we used all of our energy trying to subdue her.

The colt was not much better abput co-operating. He too had decided that lying down and drinking from the bottle was the way he wanted things to go. We were pretty sure we didn’t want to have to be doing this for them the rest of our lives so either of them lying down was not an option. We were never going to get them to nurse from the mare that way. It was obvious we couldn't let either of them nurse in a reclining position any more.

So we forced him to his feet and back over to the mare and the little stinker, even will all his portesting, managed to get latched onto mom for a few minutes before he got tired and quit. We tried again with mom but by then he was frustrated and we finished off his feeding with the bottle. He kept trying to collapse but each time we got him back to his feet before we let him have the bottle.

Even though we had to wake them and encourage them to nurse, we could see that we were gaining ground. By morning, the colt was nursing from his mother and not at all from the bottle. I timed how long he nursed from the mare so that I could be sure he was getting his full 3 ounces of milk. It had taken him over twenty minutes to drink it from the bottle, so I wouldn’t let him quit nursing from the mare until he had spent that much time with her. Just like with the bottle he would get off track or even fall asleep so we had to watch him closely and keep him on track.

The filly was taking longer to learn how to nurse because of her impatience. But even she made a little progress each time. By the time Colleen and David had to leave because they had to work, I knew things had progressed to the point I could manage them on my own. I also guessed I would probably have the filly nursing on her own before the end of the day.

By 9 o’clock Dr Gillette had called to see how they were doing. He was delighted to know the colt was nursing on his own and that the filly was so solid on her feet. He said he would be by later in the day to check on them and draw blood.

I also got calls from all of the vets who had not called me back the night before and the one who had been too far away to come. None of them was optimistic about the outcome for these twins. I think that their negativity further fueled my determination to get these foals through. I just couldn’t look at their sweet little faces and not feel like doing everything humanly possible to save them.

To be continued...
Part 6


  1. Boy it sounds like that little filly is going to be an unholy terror LOL. I like horses with a bit of life in them but she is going to be a handful.

    Still enjoying the saga and looking forward to the next installment.

    Hope your hand is healing nicely.

    I think I grossed everone out with my pictures today but I was amazed at how this animals feet were made up with finger prints and everything. How often do you have that sort of opportunity? Oh well.


  2. Yes, Lori, you are right about the filly. She is a handful. I need to spend some "quality" time with her teching her Harvey's methods or I'm afraid I'll be sending her off somewhere too! Those lessons are coming soon, but they need to be weaned from each other first.

    My hand is healing. Today the itching is driving me crazy. I'm still taking pain meds at night so I can sleep. I can't believe how much energy it is taking to heal. I'm exhausted and I'm not doing anything but my blog.

    I haven't looked at you pics today but now I'm curious so will do that next.

    Also, I think I'm going to put up your info about the company who helped you with your transfusions on the marestare site. I'm sure it will be helpful there.

    I'm glad you're liking the twins' story. It's turning about to be therapuetic to write it. I didn't realize I still had so much wrapped up in it. It was a hard time!