Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Reflections on Foaling Season 2006 - The Twins Part 2

Part 1

It’s been over an hour and a half since the mare has been in the second stage of labor when I make my third call to the answering service. By this time, there was one lone upside down foot protruding from the mare. I was getting frantic for a vet. I asked the operator if she had even spoken with my regular vet and when she answered no, I insisted she try someone else, anyone else.

While I waited for the call, I tried to use the process I knew to rotate an upside down foal. I got the mare up and turned her in the stall hoping the movement would cause the foal to slip back inside and rotate it’s position some. This method had worked for me in the past but wasn’t working now. I pushed gently on the foot to see if I could initiate any movement at all but the foot was firmly planted.

By now I had received a call from the second vet. But she wasn’t really listening or else she figured I was over reacting, maybe both. This added to my frustration but I tried to follow her directions. She wanted me to reach inside the mare and feel for the other foot and nose. After sterilizing my hand, I attempted to feel inside the mare but met with so much resistance I couldn’t get anywhere near where the second food should have been. With this information she again tried to reassure me that the foal would turn just fine but she was two hours away and I would need to call someone else.

Now I’m definitely beginning to feel like this is a nightmare and I’m never going to wake up. I called another vet, got another answering service and the cycle repeated itself as I went down my directory looking for the closet veterinary services. Finally I got a real live vet on the phone. He was not far from me and estimated he would be there in about fifteen minutes.

By now this mare is easily two hours into this stage of labor and I know we’re probably running on borrowed time. The only thing that has been reassuring at all has been the mare herself. I know from experience mares tell you when they’re in trouble. Even though Vee was a maiden mare she was handling her first foaling better than I had anticipated for a normal foaling, let along a difficult one. However, I knew from my extensive reading that things could turn fast. Visions of my mare slipping into the dreaded black sweat haunted me. Just knowing I finally had help on the way alleviated some of the stress but I still took a frantic moment to call my friend, Bev Ferrington, to ask her to pray for my mare and foal. I knew we could lose them both.

I went back into the stall to see if there was any progression at all. The mare was standing facing the door as I walked behind her to get a good look. The single foot hadn’t moved an inch and was still firmly planted. Then suddenly I was hit with a blast of amniotic fluid. I was soaked to the skin and I remember wondering where in the heck all that fluid had come from.

There wasn’t time to think about it, suddenly the foal was on the move. The mare was still standing as the front legs, head and neck of the foal emerged. The membrane was over its face and I struggled to clear it and still support the foal as my mind raced trying to remember the best way to turn this foal. Fairly easily the shoulders appeared but I still had made no progress in changing its position. I was staring straight down at its chest instead of it’s back.

My mind raced searching for the knowledge I knew I had stored away but now could not locate. I tried to picture in my mind the position of that foal inside the mare’s uterus and what the obstacles would be blocking its further progression out the birth canal. I watched the mare for contractions attempting to find the path of least resistance to turn the foal when suddenly it popped out into my arms. I grasped at the slippery horse and managed to break its fall into the straw. I pulled the foal clear of the mare just as she collapsed into the deep straw.

Giving it the once over, I found it was a small colt and he seemed to be breathing ok.

I looked back at the mare and saw protruding from her vulva an odd mass of tissue. I had never seen the placenta come out like this before. I feared that Vee’s uterus was prolapsing. The vet had just called. He was just down the road, so I raced from the stall to go and flag him down. Our road is extremely dark and Dr Jack Gillette had never been here before. I didn’t want him to miss the turn into our driveway.

As I rounded the corner heading down between two of our barns, Dave let out a screech of my name. The tone frightened me so much I turned back towards the stall even more panicked.

I found him standing in the aisle with a silly grin on his face. I wanted to throttle him. I can remember thinking that darn colt did something cute and he thinks I might miss it. Didn’t he understand when I told him the mare needed help? Dave excitedly blurted out, “There’s another one!” my heart sank..

Dave is a twin and doesn’t really know all that much about horses. He thought this twin thing was cool! I couldn’t believe my ears nor him for that matter. As I continued toward him I explained “Dave, twins in horses are NOT a good thing! Rarely do they both live! We could even loose both of them and maybe the mare! God help us!”
For information on foalings take a look at these sites. Foaling Management
Foaling Mare and Newborn
Dystocia: Foaling Problems

The pic above is the colt. To get an idea of his size, the blankets he's wearing are dog blankets from a medium sized boxer. While small, not all that small for an Arabian horse, especially a first foal.

To be continued...
Part 3

1 comment:

  1. Mikael you should sure write a book on your experiences, you have a great way of conveying the emotions and urgency that you were experiencing. Cant wait for the next installment.

    Our one brood mare lost twins before she came to us so we check her every time she is bred, but she is another story and has a hard time holding onto her foals. She has absorbed two pregnancies since we have had her after testing positive after three months and she aborted a 9 month old fetus which was a dreadful experience as I found it dead in her stall 2 nd a half months early and she had obviously been trying to get it to stand up and had mutilated it quite badly. One of our others brood mares was a twin herself but they pinched the one off when her dam was early in the pregnancy. Boy maybe we could both write a book together on paints and arabians, might make interesting reading LOL.

    Hope our hand is doing okay and not giving you too much pain.

    "See" you tomorrow.