Sunday, May 4, 2008

Foaling Season 2008 on the Baby Boomer's Arabian Horse Breeding Farm Part 2

Part 1 starts here

Before I resume with the story of Lucy's foaling, I just want to mention that I will be hosting the Carnival of Horses on June 1. Submit your entry for the next one by May 30! The Carnival after that will be hosted by Halt Near X Those interested in hosting future Carnivals please contact Lynda Polk at Hoofbeats

Now back to Lucy's story........

Check out Lucy's live webcam

Unfortunately Lucy's Arabian foal and Mother Nature were taking their own sweet time. Despite the fact that the mare looked like she could move into the second stage of labor at anytime, it just didn't happen. The mare was even listed in the mare stare chat room as the Hot Link for hours. No one could believe she wasn't progressing...........mostly me.

I just knew it could happen any time. I watched until my eyes hurt from straining for the least detail that might say that this Arabian mare had turned the corner and moved into stage two.

Finally at about 11:20 PDT on Friday night I thought I saw the mare's water break. Shortly after that the horse began looking for a place to lay. I made a quick post in the chat then I was headed to the barn calling Dave to come with me. All of this time in stage one made me suspicious that Lucy would need help. I wanted all the muscle I could get.

I didn't even wait for Dave to put his shoes on and get out of his chair. I ran to the barn as quickly as this asthmatic body of mine would carry me. Only to find that Lucy wasn't happy with my interruption. She jumped up immediately and came over to me pinning her ears. The mare clearly wanted me to go away.

Thankfully the stall I use for foaling has two doors. One is a half door that opens right into the field. The other is a people door that opens inside the area where we store feed and supplies. I headed for that door to peer through the crack so I could see without disturbing the mare. I wanted to see if she really was in stage two for sure. I knew once that stage was started even my unwanted presence would not stop it. It might delay it a little but only a little.

As soon as I moved from Lucy's sight she began looking for a place to lay back down. The fact that she'd done this so quickly gave me the information I wanted. Even though I had disturbed the mare, it had not disrupted her urge to go down. Lucy was definitely in stage two labor. Hallelujah!

As I peered through the crack between the door and the frame, Dave entered the barn behind me asking what I was doing. I decided I couldn't see well enough from that vantage point. I still didn't want to open that people door and disturb the mare so I headed back outside knowing I could look in from the small paddock on the side of her stall.

In the darkness there, I didn't think Lucy would be able to see me. I carefully changed position being as quiet as possible so as not to disturb the mare again. I'm tall and clumsy but this time I managed to move quietly more like a cat than my usual klutzy self.

The mare stayed down and I could here her pushing. Lucy had her bottom pointed toward the paddock I was now standing in. As I peeked over the wall I saw just the beginnings of two white feet. Those two feet were NOT facing down. They were sideways.

I immediately went into overdrive and raced around passed Dave and through the people door. Behind me I could hear my husband telling me to leave the mare alone so I explained the problem and asked him to come help.

Dave has a heart of gold but he really doesn't know that much about the horses. He's learned a lot over the years but unfortunately he's not a horsey midwife yet. And he has a bad habit of wanting answers before he does what he's asked sometimes. I just didn't have time to deal with Dave's questions and Lucy too, so I set out to help the mare on my own. If I absolutely had to have Dave's help I would scream like a banshee and he would be there. That would have to be good enough.

The mare didn't try to get up when I entered the stall. She looked at me but was too committed to her contractions to escape my intrusion. By the time I got to her backside I could see a little more leg and the beginnings of the foal's nose.

I immediately got down and grabbed both feet, one in each hand. As I'm holding them in my hands my brain is going into overdrive assessing the situation. The foal's position was off about 45° with the position turning to the left.

I adjusted the position of the feet so one was farther back than the other trying to avoid a should lock. Pulling with the mare's contractions, I tried to pull the foal straight down towards her hocks. Because of the foal's position that meant a bit of giggling and wiggling to rotate the foal.

Lucy's contractions were long and hard. When a contraction did stop, almost instantaneously a new one started up. Usually it's between contractions that repositioning is most effective. Even though I only had a moment I tried to push the foal's feet back. I made little if any progress before another contraction would resume. Poor Lucy's body was responding to all the hormones produced by that extended first stage of labor. I was going to have to work with what I had.

I just keep pulling and wiggling simultaneously. Another call to Dave for help didn't get the response I wanted and my adrenaline went up a notch. Working my timing with the mare's I kept trying to pull that foal free.

I have pulled a number of foals in my time because mares have laid to close to walls or gotten so tired they quit pushing. I even pulled Trouble in the foaling from hell, Reflections on Foaling Season 2006 - The Twins I can assure you upside down stuck twin, Trouble, was not as difficult to pull as Lucy's foal. I was pulling so hard I was beginning to sweat.

Normally it's a pretty simple process and while it gets my adrenaline pumping it's not been real hard work. Fortunately this process felt longer than it actually was. Even though time seemed to be standing still and I appeared to be making no progress, the foal was gradually emerging.

By the time I had the foal pulled past the shoulder lock, I could feel my hair stuck to the back of my neck and a river of sweat running down my back but at least I knew I had the hard part done. Once the shoulders were out the rest should be easy.

At this point I worried about the thick sack over the foal's face. I remember the thought I should tear it open running through my brain. But some distant voice said " Just keep pulling, the foal should be getting oxygen still through the cord as long as the cord isn't pinched in the birth canal. Get the foal out now!" And that's exactly what I did.

I only stopped pulling for those brief instances when the mare stopped pushing. As soon as I felt her pushing again, I began pulling. In two more contractions I had the foal on the ground except for her back ankles. Only then did I release those front feet and rip open the sack cover the foal like a shroud.

To be continued.............

Part 3

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  1. You know I was sitting her watching, thinking that foal is upside down... Then when it was out so quickly (yes it actually was pretty quick once you started pulling) I thought my tired eyes had just been seeing things.

    Glad to know it turned out okay! She sure is a little spitfire, lots of spunk in that little one. :)

    *I still don't have a foal on the ground... I'm going crazy lol.

  2. She sure is a lively one! I don't know how she could be in pain and act this way. I saw her kicking Lucy over and over at about 12:15am Seattle time tonight. She finally succeeded in getting Lucy to move away from her feed! Then "Spunky" checked out the hay, but realized she didn't want it. Lucy moved back in to eat, and the filly kicked at her some more then started running around! I don't know how Lucy can stand it. But this afternoon when the filly was being bratty, Lucy flattened her ears at her several times and gave her "the look." The filly then backed down. Tonight I saw the filly flatten her ears as she approached Lucy and was going in for milk. It seems like the filly is persisting on taking charge. Goodness me! Your hands will be full with her! Never a dull moment :)

    Oh I also noticed the filly seems to be itchy and trying to bite at her blanket and scatch under it. Could she be sweating in it? She spends time rubbing her head or licking the back wall, too, but I can't see the part of the wall at her head level. She was also pawing in the straw back there, digging a hole. Pretty funny girl.

  3. Just had a look at Lucy and the new arrival on Mare Stare. I thought at first it wasn't working then the foal moved her leg. Of course they're asleep, it's the middle of the night.

    Sounds as if both you and Lucy had a bit of a time with her! With all that pulling she just managed to be born on my birthday!

  4. I am glad to get the recap on Lucy's darling foal since I was a little BUSY at the time Lucy decided to foal!!!

    I didn't really think when I made that comment "Wouldn't it be great if Lucy and Devon decided to foal at the same time" that it would actually happen! Well it happened...boy did it happen!

    All in all things turned out great but it was a very frightening and emotional experience for me especially once I determined that this mare was to foal standing up!

    Anyway as soon as i finish my chores I will sit down to write my blog. If this event isn't enough to break my writers block then nothing will :)

    Thanks again for your help Mikael.

  5. WOW! That is quite intense. Cant wait for part 3!

  6. Awesome retelling!! Wish I could have seen it...darn...darn...darn! Anyway...can't wait to read the next part! Now I'm now off to pull up the cam and catch a peek at that sweet baby! :)

  7. MiKael you keep breeding. This game isn't one for me. My heart was in my throat reading this.

  8. I'm sure Lucy appreciated the help. You did a great job for her.

  9. It sounds like there are so many things that can go wrong. How on earth do wild horses manage?

    As a side note, I am interested to hear your thoughts on the Kentucky Derby and Eight Belles. I've learned enough from your blog and other horse blogs to know that there are many things that most people don't know or don't understand about horses and horse racing, both good and bad.

  10. loc, your eyes weren't deceiving you, her position was not right. Although she wasn't upside down she was turned enough to cause a shoulder lock.

    Can't wait to know if Rosie has a foal for you this year. But am glad I am done with waiting and it's now your turn.

    dj, you are right about her but lively might just be too tame a word. She's definitely a spitfire and I love every minute of it. However I'm going to have to start training session immediately. There is no doubt that she's going to be a handful.

    It is getting warm here(I can't believe it! YAY!) and the blanket may indeed be too warm. I'm going to get out there and pull it soon.

    ro, well, happy belated birthday to you. I'm glad that we could oblige.

    I'm surprised you caught her sleeping, she doesn't really do all that much of that for a newborn. She is a pistol and very active.

    kelly, once you made that comment, I looked at Devon and thought she could be right. It was no surprise that we provided the marestare group with a double header.

    I certainly understand how frightening and emotional an experience that foaling can be. I may be an "old hand" at this but it gets my heart every time.

    I heard that your mare had foaled standing up. That's really an experience when the foal has to come out right into your arms. Dealing with that slippery weight and getting it to the ground safely is a challenge.

    I'm glad to hear that everything turned out ok. I was worried. Will make a link to your post as soon as you get it up.

    Congratulations! Kelly, you're officially an equine midwife!

    beth, you're right about intensity. I don't think you can love horses and not have foaling be an emotionally charged situation. There is very little time and many things that can go wrong.

    equinespirit, I wish you could have seen it too. However, several of my cyber buddies did manage to catch the event. It's kind of stragne to get to the barn and have the story already be told because they watched the entire thing.

    holly, just for the record my heart was in my throat living it. I keep saying that breeding is not for the faint of heart. It can really be trying and is always emotional, at least it is for me.

    grey horse, I'm sure glad this was the foaling for Lucy where I was home. After seeing Dave in action, I'm not sure I can leave a mare in his care again. He and Lindsay foaled Lucy out the last time. We are lucky and so is Lucy that everything that time went smoothly.

    arthist99, That's a good question. I guess the answer is that they don't very well. The survival rates for mares and foals in the wild is very low. I don't remember exact numbers but seems like somewhere under 30%.

    As for Eight Belles, I will have a post. It is still stewing in this brain of mine. What a heart breaking experience!

  11. Since last night, I've noticed Lucy raising a back leg to the filly pushing her away when she tries to nurse. Lucy mostly does this when she's eating her hay, and then the filly gets mad. Is Lucy rejecting her or just telling her not to nurse while she's eating? Is the filly getting enough nursing time in? I saw her sleeping a lot this morning.

  12. Wow.
    Congratulations Lucy and MiKael.

  13. dj, I noticed that behavior yesterday. The filly was only wanting to nurse on one side of Lucy's udder so the mare has been teaching her that she must nurse off both sides.

    Kahless, Thank you! It's been pretty fun. Stressful......but fun!

  14. Whats the lil' filly's name?

  15. Awesome! It's amazing the strength one can gather when it's an emergency!