Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reflections of Foaling Season 2006 - The Twins Part 8

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Standing there looking at the twins in the oversize intensive care stall made them look so much smaller than they had looked at home. This was the same stall that Vee had been in when she was about Surprise’s age. She had spiked a fever and was rushed to intensive care with her mother and all kinds of tests were run. They never did find any explanation for her fever but kept her in intensive care for 3 days for observation. Her fever ended as mysteriously as it started and she was sent home.

Maybe the reason the Arabian mare was so comfortable with all of the commotion and such of the hospital now was because she had been through it herself as a foal. Whatever the reason, Vee was totally relaxed and her calmness reflected in her foals. Both settled in like they’d be born there other than Trouble was nursing a little more than usual to comfort himself. But that seemed to do the trick, he showed no other signs of stress. At least that was going our way; stressed foals with diarrhea would have really complicated an already difficult situation.

While the docs were working on Surprise, Trouble approached his mom to nurse. She warned him off. He ignored her so she barred her teeth and snapped at him which sent him scurrying to the corner.

The docs immediately jumped to the conclusion that Vee didn’t really want two foals and prepared to take him away. I was glad I was still there to intercede. I explained the dynamics that were developing between the colt and the mare with Surprise’s illness and also how the mare would warn the colt off from nursing if she had no milk.

They watched the mare closely still concerned that she didn’t want to mother two foals. It didn’t take them long to see that what I had told them was correct. The mare was protecting the filly by keeping the colt away from her when Suprise was down. And remarkably, she was saving milk for the filly. Once the docs let Surprise nurse, then Vee willingly let Trouble nurse.

They were encouraged by the fact that the mare was protecting the filly. Normally mares of very sick foals will abandon their babies. The fact that Vee was so vested in protecting Surprise told them that Vee expected the filly to survive. This conclusion was shared by me but not by the vets at this time.

They continued on with blood draws and ultrasounds of her kidneys and liver and I don’t even remember what else. They were checking her IGG scores again to confirm but were pretty sure they were going to transfuse her in the morning. They also did tests to check her hydration levels. They duplicated many of the tests on Trouble to use him for a baseline since they had no reliable baseline for healthy twins.

Once they had finished all of the procedures and I felt that the three were safely settled in and there was no more threat that they were going to take Trouble away from his mother, Lilli and I went off to lunch while we waited for test results.

By the time we had returned the twins had everyone in the vet hospital wrapped around their little hooves. Surprise had awoken from the tranquilizer she had been given. The two foals were playing together while the mare contently munched her hay listening to the laughs and giggles of the staff.

Most of the tests had been concluded with better results than the docs had expected. The filly was properly hydrated and wouldn’t require IV fluids. Her liver and kidneys looked normal in the ultra sounds but her liver enzymes were elevated. Heart, respiration, suck reflex, and so on were all good. The only real evidence the filly was sick was the enlarged umbilicus, the eleveated liver enzymes and those two enlarged veins and arteries inside. The IGG results wouldn’t be back until morning so there was still the possibility that they would transfuse her. There were Angular Limb Deformities assessed but it was decided they could better be addressed once the filly was out of the woods.

The staff had seen enough of Vee’s behavior by now to be comfortable that my assessment of her as a mother was correct. She did indeed love both of her babies and her mothering skills were far better than anyone could have hoped for in any mare, let alone a maiden in this situation. There was no longer any threat of them splitting up this family. It was safe for me to go home.

It seemed really strange to leave them behind. They had been such an intensive part of my life since the mare’s labor that my every waking thought and most of my snoozing thoughts were about them. It was like leaving part of myself behind. Surprise and Trouble were in the best possible hands they could be in. If anything went wrong, they would be better prepared to deal with it, than I was. The only good thing about it for me was I would be able to get some sleep for the first time in a week.

To be continued...
Part 9

Thoughts on Barbaro: yesterday I didn't hear about Barbaro until I had finished my post. I can't help but feel a great heaviness in my heart for the loss of this great horse and how his owners must be feeling.

While the circumstances surrounding my twins were different than Barbaro's the commitments are the same. I know what it is like to invest your heart and soul into saving a beloved horse. I also know what it's like to do that and lose, even though that has not been the case with the twins.

It's been frustrating to see all of the negative things that have been written stating "he's just a horse!" I feel sorry for those people that they don't have the capacity to understand what a horse like Barbaro, and for that matter even my twins, can give to the world.

In these trying times, the hope that springs from hearing of the great stength and courage of Barbaro even against the greatest odds is truly a gift. I know from emails and letters that the twins story has had a perfound impact on some people. If my little twins can do that, I can only imagine to what extent a great horse like Barbaro can impact the world. Even though Barbaro did not survive, the determination of his fight is most certainly a great legacy.

Barbaro: Rest in Peace


  1. I had no idea about Barbaro until I read your post. I am deeply saddened.

  2. It must have been very hard to leave your babies and their momma there, but I am sure you needed the rest. So glad they had such a great team to look after them. Looking forward to the next instalment.

    Thank you also for posting the link to the Barbaro video, he was truly a wonderful horse, it is amazing how one horse out of the thousands of thoroughbreds can find its way into so many people's hearts. He had such a promising future. My thoughts and prayers go out to his owners who must be devastated. What a pity he never had a chance to breed and at least leave a legacy in some of his babies. Truly a sad day.

  3. Thank you for linking to my site... I came across yours last week and have really enjoyed reading it. I tried to comment but apparently my google account was not active anymore:(...
    The posts about the twins are facsinating. I am breeding one of my mares this year for the first time. I'm trying to educate myself as much as possible about every possible situation so that I can be prepared. I will certainly be a nervous wreck when the time comes. This mare was the first horse I ever owned exclusively (Now I have Five) I had hopes to show her as a Reiner but unfortunately she has several back issues. I made the decision to pursue another career for Maddie. She is great with kids and one of the favorite lesson horses, as she looks just like "barbie's horse" :)
    She is well bred (cutting horse lines) so I am hoping she can also be a broodmare. As part of my studies I took an equine reproduction course at Ohio State. It was an excellent overview, allowing us to palpate mares, observe AI collection, understand the overall process. However, we did not have a chance to observe the foaling process or discuss many practical solutions to problems that could arise. We did discuss colostrum and devices such as foal alert but thats about it. Well thats enough rambling on for me... Thanks again for the link and I look forward to reading your future entries.

    Thanks, Kelly- www.everyrider.com

  4. DressageMom I didn't know until I read it on Kelly's site. Link is below.

    Prophotbylori It was hard to leave the twins but it was good I got some rest.

    It's really so sad that Barbaro lost his fight. I can only imagine what a loss that must be to the thoroughbred industry. There's just no way to tell what kind of an impact his gene pool would have been on them. I wonder if they'll rethink their stance on frozen semen etc. This sure would make one wonder.

    In response to Kelly at EveryRider If you didn't get a chance to observe foalings, do you know about the Mare Stare
    site. My twins are up there on 24 hour cam because people find them fascinating, but the real purpose of the site it to have folks watching mares that are due to foal. You'd get a lot of "experience" there that would help make you more comfortable with the foaling experience. This time of year, it seems like there are mares foaling every day. There are other sites out there but this one is THE best.