Thursday, April 15, 2010


Part 1

Since I began using a barn cam, I've always had the luxury of streaming on the web. For me the advantage of this has been those extra eyes streaming makes available. However, as MareStare has grown there are now so many foaling mares on cams it has diffused the number of "capable" observers to a point it's hardly useful. I learned that during my foaling last year.

With Dave being out of work for over a year and a half now, I didn't really think live streaming was worth the expense. We would have to set the barn cam up for closed circuit instead. That would give me a bird's eye view of what was happening without disturbing the mare.

You would think if you could stream live on the internet that converting to a closed circuit on the computer should be easy. Well, at least that's what I thought. I should have known better. Nothing for me on the computer has ever been easy and we still haven't figured out how to do this.

The next option was closed circuit with a TV set so Dave went to Goodwill to buy a used set and then on to Radio Shack for the coaxial cables needed to get the cam up and running. From there it should have been easy BUT it wasn't. The barn cam, sending unit and receiver will all have to be uninstalled and sent off to see if repairs are possible. In the meantime, there would be no closed circuit assistance for foaling at the time we really needed it.

With Solidare's due date set using a 345 day table, the mare's actual due date is April 19. Her past performances have put her all over the place in regards to the "when" of birthing. The mare has gone anywhere from 335 days to 370 days so there was no help in the guessing game there. Watching and waiting were the order of the day.

Dave is as worried about Solidare as I am so he decided that he would help in this current foal watch. This is something he has volunteered to do only rarely and he's really not taken it seriously enough for me to believe I can count on him. However, Solidare really did scare Dave in the field on Saturday. The last thing he wants is to see me loose this mare and he really did step up in ALL ways this time.

We mapped out a schedule for checking the mare so we could maximize on our sleep. Alternating back and forth allowed us to "stretch" our forty winks. Hopefully neither of us would end up so sleep deprived we wouldn't be useful when the time actually came.

For me the biggest indicator of foaling in my mares has always been the status of their milk. I've been fortunate to not have mares that would stream milk for days while not producing a foal. Once that milk turns to white, it's pretty much been a given a foal will follow sometime soon if the mare is not disturbed. This put monitoring Solidare's milk foremost on my list.

The changes had begun early Saturday morning but they were subtle and nothing to get excited about yet. The liquid was amber but just a hint cloudy. By Saturday evening there were more changes but still very subtle..... just a hint more cloudy. I was looking for a change from amber to white.

When I'd talked with my vet about his current concerns, there had been no more changes in Solidare's pre-milk at all. I don't know if all of the excitement and having the vet stalled the mare but clearly she was not progressing. To be safe we were watching the mare like a hawk watches its prey.

Solidare was not happy with the interruptions during the night as Dave and I took our turns checking on her condition. This probably didn't help speed things along either but I knew she would get used to our routine.

It's a known fact a mare can "hang onto" her foal if she feels threatened in any way. Only once she's into that second stage of labor will it proceed despite external forces.

Because the mare is so sensitive to our presence, I've learned sleeping in the barn does not work with her. If we sleep in the barn, Solidare has always managed to hold onto her foal until we take a needed potty break. She has held out for days waiting for that break to come.

If this foal was ready to be born, we wanted that to happen as soon as possible. The sooner the mare was relieved of the extra weight, the better off she would be. While sleeping in the barn is actually easier for me, it wasn't going to be easier on my mare so we opted for staying in the house and doing frequent barn checks. The mare seems to tolerate those better than the move in.

Sunday night came and went followed by Monday night too with no changes at all in the mare. It wasn't until Tuesday afternoon that I detected any more changes to Solidare's pre-milk. Even though those changes were not "normal" for this mare, there were significant changes. I still had golden but slightly cloudy liquid just like there had been Saturday evening. The only difference was it's consistency........and it was now very very sticky.

For those not familiar with all this foaling stuff, it's important to know from the time there is fluid that can be extracted from the udder, it is always rather sticky so "sticky" alone is not a clue of imminent foaling. However, there was a very noticeable change in how sticky the liquid from Solidare's udder had become. It was that change that made me suspect we were closing in of parturition.

By Tuesday evening the color of the liquid had only made a slight change but that consistency and stickiness really had my attention now. I wondered if Solidare would hold on to her foal throughout the night only to foal sometime early morning like she has in years past. While I wasn't positive foaling was imminent, I knew the mare wouldn't be holding out much longer. We were getting down to more serious stuff.

I kept playing scenarios over in my head. The "What if's" were killing me. What if the foal was born , the uterus came with it and the vet had not arrived? What if the mare managed to foal when we weren't right there and every thing all came out together? What if we couldn't reach the vet? What if........

All I knew was I didn't want any surprises. I knew from lots of past experience, the odds of catching this mare right at the entry from the first stage of labor going into the second were slim to none.
Because the mare does little moving around because of the torn tendon in her left hind leg, the tell tales signs of pacing are totally removed from the equation. Without those, the odds of catching her were even worse. Still, I tried to keep the faith, be calm and wait for Mother Nature to grace us with her presence.

Dave and I discussed our strategy before our late night shifts began as the intense watch sifted to accommodate a little sleep for the watchers. On my turns it was hard not to run to the barn. I knew running would only cause problems but my heart was was my head.

Each time I checked the mare that night there was no sign. I reluctantly put myself to bed and prayed. The prayers disappeared into sleep until something intruded through the dreamlike awake state that comes with too much worry and not enough sleep, brain jolted at the unexpected intrusion.

WTF IS that?........... OMG, the phone......... Dave!................ Solidare...................

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


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  1. Ok , have read tonights installment , am packing and ready to come to your place to foal watch! Crap I have no clue where you live (lol) Continued prayers and good thoughts ,I so hope the outcome is a wonderful healthy foal and your darling mare is well!

  2. You just keep me hanging on...

    Did it happen? Is she foaling? I'm hoping and praying that all goes well for everybody. I can remember how stressed I felt during my mare watch and foaling and everything was normal for us.

  3. Fingers crossed, hoping that things turned out fine.

  4. I too hope all is well; we're all gunning for Solidare and her foal and family....fingers crossed!

  5. I hope by now you have a lovely healthy foal and Solidare had no issues and delivered easily.

  6. I feel this mare is NEVER gonna foal! My nerves are shot! NOW do u see why I could never breed Maggie?
    Just imagine If I were the owner, in ur shoes, and it was Maggie.No couldn't go thru it! Every spring I toy with the idea. Not now! Bless You!