Saturday, April 17, 2010

Solidare..........the First Hours after Foaling

Part 1

Once I was finished checking on the mare's status, I turned my attention to the foal. Shivering in the cold morning air, the partially wet foal was nestled up close to the mare's face. Solidare was content with the closeness. From what I could tell things looked pretty normal except for a rattle to the foal's breathing, a tell tale sign of inhaled amniotic fluid.

I toweled the foal down, rubbing briskly to add some heat. I checked respiration to be sure the rate was normal. I wanted to be sure the rattled breathing was not a sign of a bigger issue. I also kept my an eye on Solidare wanting to be ahead of her if she should attempt to rise.

The mare was shivering too. Dave was worried about that. I assured him it's a normal occurrence after foaling. The loss of the foal and placenta mass causes an abrupt drop in the mare's temperature. It takes a while for the system to stabilize and the mare's body heat to return to normal.

I reminded him of those days when we had babies and the nurses with hot warm blankets trying to keep me comfortable. I sure wish they had warming ovens and towels big enough to accommodate mares. I always feel so sorry for them as they shake. Another one of those things to add to my list of wants should I ever win the lottery.

Solidare had tried a couple of times to get to her feet before I'd joined Dave at the foaling stall. Just the thought of the quivering muscles of her left leg made me wince. There wasn't much chance the mare would make it up with that injured left leg underneath her but there was a good chance she might do further damage in her now weakened state. It just was not safe for her to be attempting to get up on that leg so soon after foaling.

Solidare, however, was not as worried about her leg as she was about her foal. I could see her motherly instincts kicking in as she considered getting up. As long as the foal was standing some internal clock told her she needed to rise for her foal to nurse. It was driven by a sense that needed to be accomplished soon. If we didn't intercede getting her good leg underneath her, the mare would be attempting to rise without our help. Whether we were ready or not we needed to get this mare to her feet.

It helped that at first the foal was unsteady. There really wasn't a protracted period of time standing for the little one so Solidare's inclinations to rise came and went with the attempts of the foal. While the foal seemed strong enough, the interest in the task wasn't really all that strong.

It was hard to know what the balance should be in this situation. The mare needed to rest as much as possible. The foal needed to be nursing sooner, better than later. Nursing required the mare be standing. Standing required the mare be turned over to the other side. All of these things needed to be accomplished in the manner that was best for the two horses.

Because the foal didn't seem to be that interested in really figuring out how to use those mile long legs, I was worried about how long it might take to teach such a foal to nurse. With the clock ticking on how long colostrum can effectively be utilized, there was a sense of urgency to this task.

I figured the longer I could keep Solidare down, the better off she'd be. I suspected once she got to her feet she wouldn't lay back down easily. So my first priority was going to be getting this foal comfortable on its feet while still keeping Solidare down. Once we knew the foal could stand well enough to nurse, then we would work on getting Solidare turned.

Dave and I both worked at helping the foal find balance. Caught up in the task at hand, I never even thought about what sex this foal might be and I don't think Dave did either. When it became clear that Solidare was intent on getting to her feet our focus turned once more back to her and we still hadn't discovered the gender of this new little one.

Solidare was not happy about the prospect of us rolling her over to get her good leg underneath her. She'd not been particularly fond of our assistance the other three times but her resistance had been minimal. Now we found the mare was determined not to cooperate and it was easy to see why. Solidare did not want to take her eyes for one second off her foal. The mare co operated to the point she'd lose sight of her foal and then she fought.

At first the foal was right there in the thick of things. Still trying to get up or lay down, it didn't matter. Mostly it was about staying near the mare while Dave and I tried tucking her legs underneath her so we could work on turning her over. In the midst of all this, I mentioned to Dave that we still didn't know what sex this foal was. He bent over taking quick look, or so I thought, and said, "It's a filly"

The foal was too unsteady on those spindly legs to be anything but be in the way while up. We decided the best thing to do was move her out of the way. Down, safely tucked in the corner, we wouldn't need to worry about smushing the foal as we turned the mare so that's what we did. We moved the foal to the corner with little resistance and tucked those mile long legs up underneath. At least one "horse" was in the right position.

The only way we could possibly roll Solidare with her legs underneath her required her active participation or at least total submission to the process. Without tucking her legs up tightly underneath her we couldn't even make an attempt to push her body up and over. With the foal now out of the way, it was much easier to get all four of the mare's legs in the right position.

Solidare was fairly good about leaving her legs in the correct position once we got them there. When it came to moving her neck and head into the "right" position that's where the mare balked. One toss of her head was enough to undo all our work and we were back where we started.

Solidare couldn't see the foal all the way through her changes in position. If we'd had more sets of hands we'd have been able to move the foal through the process to keep her in Solidare's sight. Instead we had to figure out how to convince Solidare the foal would be safe out of her sight for that brief instant or we had to find a way to get the job done even with her resistance.

It soon became clear we weren't going to be able to accomplish our task in this manner. We were going to have to go with the more dangerous method of rolling her with her legs up and going over the top. While the quieter the mare was in this process affected how safely the task could be accomplished, it was possible to get it done with some resistance from the mare. Since Solidare wasn't going to stay quiet if she couldn't see her foal even for a brief moment, this was our only option.

Having pulled the mare over before, Solidare knew when I put the rope around her left fetlock what was coming next. She popped up onto her barrel in rigid attention. At least for the moment she was more concerned about losing sight of her foal than she was getting herself up for him to nurse but we couldn't accomplish what we needed either. To roll her over we needed her flat out on her side.

We talked to her, petted her trying to soothe her into relaxation. The foal dozed quietly in the corner and the mare finally laid back down onto her side to take a brief break. We tried to take advantage of the situation to roll her over but the confines of the stall put Dave in a bad position. We ended up with another aborted attempt and Solidare once again sitting rigidly upright in a protective mode.

This time in addition to soothing the mare, Dave and I conversed about where each of us needed to be when the next opportunity arose. With me having the rope on the mare's fetlock, I needed to be behind the mare's back in the small people doorway. Since Dave was grabbing onto Solidare's front underneath leg for leverage he needed to be on the opposite side from me moving into the mare as we turned while still managing to stay out of the way of those flailing legs.

The next time the mare laid flat out we tried again. Again we had logistics problems but we were closer this time. When Solidare popped back up onto her belly we strategized some more.

We did manage to get the mare turned over but only on our third attempt. It went smoothly this time but unfortunately the mare ended up too close to the wall. What we now had was a cast horse. While I had suspected this possibility we hadn't planned on how we might handle it. Luckily, Solidare laid there quietly while we figured out how to free her.

I got on the phone to see if I could round up any help. Sliding the mare far enough away from the wall so she could get her legs underneath her wasn't going to be easy for just Dave and me. We sure didn't want to be rolling her back over again. I did find help but no one close so we decided to see what we could do by ourselves.

It's funny what adrenaline can do for you. Don't ask me how, but Dave and I managed to slide the mare around enough she could get up. It wouldn't have been possible without Solidare's total co operation.

I wedged myself between the mare and the wall pushing on her upper legs right near the shoulder while Dave pulled on the base of her neck. Solidare laid there quietly keeping me safe. The mare's body moved slowly like a compass pivoting on it's point. That got us a few precious inches at her chest. away from the wall.

Those inches allowed me to pull the mare's legs into a position like a handle with her forearm parallel to her body that I could "use" from the mare's back side, right next to Dave. Dave kept his position at the base of her neck. Together, we pulled and pulled, counting and breathing and pulling and groaning in unison. Ever so slowly we pivoted the mare's front end away from the wall.

Once Solidare got enough room to unfold her legs she pushed off on the wall and bounced to her feet while still being careful not to know either Dave or I down. As we moved out of the mare's way, Dave and I both struggled to get to our feet, our backs done in by the process.

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

The Foal

Solidare's new foal framed in her flowing mane.

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  1. She's adorable! It looks like Solidare is on her feet in the photo so I can assume you were successful at getting her on her feet. Gosh, this must have been so nerve wracking for you both. Thank God, Solidare had both you and Dave to help her!

  2. Turning her seemed like it was a real chore. I'm glad she finally got up and everything was okay. The foal is adorable, can't wait for more pictures of mama and baby together.

  3. My goodness! what an ordeal for her and you ! I bet the next morning you felt like you had been hit by a bus!

  4. congratulations dear solidare, i am so glad you have a baby at your side again!

    mikael, thank you for sharing the story in such detail, i loved it!

    would love to see more pics of mother and child.


  5. She is up. I am soo wrapped up in this!! How about some photos of Mama Solidare with her creation that so much has gone into physically and emotionally for all...???

  6. Good lord, my back ached before I even got to the end of this post. You and Dave are amazing, and so is Solidaire! I hope her filly inherited those intelligent female genes! Do you still have both horses?

  7. Fantastyk Voyager, it was definitely nerve wracking. Hope we're done with this for a while.

    Arlene, that it was. Hoping to get pics of mare and foal together but so far they just aren't cooperating.

    fernvalley, I still feel like I've been hit by a bus and this happened on Wednesday.

    lytha, the story's not over so be prepared for more detail..... my specialty I guess. LOL

    phaedra96, I hoping to get pics of them together but am having trouble catching them in that kind of proximity.

    deejbrown, this happened this Wednesday. There's still some to learn about this foal. And yes I have both horses. I would sell the foal if the right person came along. However, I think that's not likely any time soon.

  8. I bet you are still sore! Funny how strong we are when needed, but boy oh boy do those muscles give us merry hell when its all over!

  9. fernvalley, Dave and I are both still sitting with heating pads on our backs but then there is more to this story that will be coming.