Monday, January 22, 2007

Reflections on Foaling Season 2006 - The Twins

As this year’s foaling season rapidly approaches, I can’t help but have flashbacks of the events of last year. I find myself dreading the upcoming foal watches, no longer just because the barn gets so cold at night, now I worry about dealing with the complications. I used to always be so confident that I could handle whatever came my way at least well enough to get a vet here to take over. All that has changed.

I was very excited about my pending foaling season last year. I had six foals coming, my largest foal crop ever. In addition, I was looking forward to the first foal of my third generation of breeding. Talk about an incredible moment in my life.

It all started off like a normal foaling season. The first foal arrived in January while I was out of time at the Region 5 Arabian Horse Association mini convention in Kennewick, Wa. Husband, Dave, and daughter, Lindsay, were at home taking over my foal watch duties which itself was a little scary because neither has much experience with foaling.

Everything went off without a hitch. The mare was fine, the foal fine and Dave and Lindsay were pretty darn proud of themselves. You’d of thought they had given birth instead of the mare. I got the call at convention and Lindsay even sent me on my cell phone a picture of the foal.

Three more foals arrived during March and April and everything went smoothly. Other than the usual, having a couple of mares not co-operate with being watched, (They held out to deliver their foals unattended when I was up at the house to take a potty break. But, hey, if that’s the worst that happens, life is good.) the foaling season was turning out as we had hoped.

We had three fillies and one colt and two more mares left to foal. For some unknown reason I decided to send Lilly, my top broodmare off to foal with my friend, Bev Ferrington. The foal was hers and I decided that it would be better for the foal to be born in its new home than taken there when it was weaned and I was getting tired. Long nights sleeping in the barn were taking their toll.

So off Lilly went to Bev’s and I was only left with my maiden mare, Scandalous Love, to foal. She was due May 11 and her pregnancy seemed to be progressing normally. My only concern was that she was dropping weight. I was feeding her everything I could get down her and still rapidly losing ground, so I had resorted to large amounts of rice bran to get more calories into her. This had slowed down the weight loss but not stopped it. But other than that my only concern was the usual maiden mare issues. Would she reject her foal, get milk? Any of the usual worries about maiden mares went through my mind.

By the first of May she was beginning to bag up and the appropriate muscles were beginning to relax. By the seventh she was waxed, her milk was in and all the rest of the signs were there. Her body wasn’t pulling any of the usual maiden mare suprises on me, that part was good.

I began moving up my check times, I was now monitoring her every couple of hours and getting ready to move into the barn for the night. I checked her at 10 pm and she looked calm and sleepy so I went back in the house to watch the news. When I came back out to check her a little after 11, I knew immediately something was wrong.

The mare had this odd stripe of fluid running along her back and over her croup. I went in the stall and touched it and knew immediately it was amniotic fluid. I checked the stall bedding, the fluid was totally absorbed by the straw and the straw was cold. Judging from the temperature in the stall, I figured her water must have broke sometime soon after my last check.

The mare had been in the second stage of labor for nearly an hour and there were no signs of a foal. I called for Dave from the house and then I called my vet. I got his answering service and was told he would call me. If he hadn’t called back in 15 minutes, I was instructed to call back.

I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. I hated this waiting to talk to the vet. All of the possibilities of what I thought could be happening raced through my mind and all of them meant I needed a vet, the sooner the better. Time was of the essence and here I was waiting for a call, a call that never came. I tried again and again the service said he’d call and to call back if I didn’t here. And yet again, the call never came.

To be continued....
Part 2


  1. O M Gosh Mikael this is like waiting for the next days episode!!

    I am terribly lucky in that my mares pretty much take care of themselves, I had to help one mare last year because the one front leg was bent at the knee so she was struggling to push him out and he was a very big baby. The last one to foal I sat up until nearly midnight with and she wouldnt foal so I went to bed and when I got up there was this beautiful little bay filly. This was the mare's fifth foal but the first since we had owned her. Other than that they prefer to do it in the early hours on their own and it has always been that way with no hitches thank heavens.

    I cant wait to hear the rest of your story and hopefully see some pictures.

  2. Sorry about the suspense but it's just too long to post on one day. My guess is it's going to take a least a week to tell about the first week of their lives - and that's only the beginning. It's truly a miracle that these babies have survived at all, let alone the fact they are thriving.

    I do have lots of pictures I'll be posting along the way. I'm glad that you're enjoying it.