Friday, May 21, 2010
We brought Mouse home in November of 2009. My worry wasn't so bad at that time but anyone, who's ever had a mare foal, knows how quickly those last few months can fly by and how unprepared for the actual birth you usually are. According to the foaling calculator I'd found on the internet, her foaling day was May 1st. A month before, I started worrying because she hadn't made milk yet. I was certain she'd somehow managed to get hold of some fescue which will keep them from making milk. Two weeks before due date, she finally started to "bag up." A week before, we started practically living in the paddock with her. Despite the heavy rains all Winter long, my husband had managed to at least get the little barn he was building her under roof. So, we knew she and the baby would have shelter. We brought in the straw and got safe water containers and otherwise, did our best to baby proof the entire paddock. I gathered up the towels, gloves, scissors, and betadine that I'd been told I might need. I asked my vet two weeks before, when she'd come to the farm to give the yearly shots to all of the horses, just what I needed to know. She told me that most likely Mouse would have the baby with no trouble and without me and that I'd just come out one morning and find and baby running about. She told me that the only problem might be if one leg or both was folded up inside and if that happened, she could talk me through it on the phone, telling me what to do to deliver the baby.
Our farrier, Dale Collis, visited on April 30th. He took one look at Mouse and told me that we would have a baby in the next 24 hours. That night my husband was working late in the fields trying to get our hay sown before the rain predicted for that weekend arrived. He would stop and go check on Mouse every two hours. When he came in at 2:30 a.m., he told me that there was no change and she was showing no signs of going in to labor. I set my alarm for 4:30 when I'd go and check on her again. When I arrived at the barn, Mouse was still hungry. We'd been told that she'd lose her appetite in the six hours or so before delivery but I always doubted that; nothing keeps Mouse from eating. I even joked that she'd probably continue to eat as she delivered and she did, lol. I'd only been there about five minutes when she had her first contraction. It was huge and seemed to send her entire body into spasms but it passed quickly. I waited but there wasn't a followup. I went into the barn and sat down on a straw bale and waited, watching her closely. Around 5:30, she became very restless. I went out to check on her and before I could reach her, her water broke in one big rush and there was the baby already making his way into life. Thankfully, he wasn't breach but only one leg was sticking out. The other leg was folded up. Unfortunately, my vet was out of town that weekend so I had no one to call that could talk me through this. I forgot the gloves and grabbed the towels. I pulled on that one little hoof every time Mouse pushed but I was surprised by how slippery the leg was and I couldn't seem to get a good grip. Mouse kept lying down and trying to push and then standing up to walk around and to try and straighten out the baby. I was panicked so I called Steve. He had to get dressed and walk, or run, the 1/4 mile to the paddock because he'd left his truck there the night before. I continued trying to help but I wasn't being very successful. I was so scared because I knew that every minute that passed was endangering the foal's life and maybe even Mouse's. When Steve arrived, he took over. It took him and Mouse, at least two more good pushes and pulls but the leg finally popped out and almost immediately the baby followed. The moment he hit the ground Steve checked the time, 6:05 a.m. on the dot. He broke the sac and wiped it away from the baby's mouth.
Neither of us had any experience with birthing foals. We were so worried when the little guy didn't immediately get to his feet like they always seem to do in the movies. At 6:15, I called my friend, trainer, Brandy McDonnell to ask her advise. She was so sweet and nice despite the fact that I'd evidently woken her up. She even called back twice that morning to check on the baby's progress. And she patiently answered all of my stupid questions: How long before he stands up?...can be at least two hours (also suggested getting some colostrum into him via a syringe to jump start him), Is he suppose to be this skinny?...yes, Sande, he is....What about the hairy hooves?....normal, She won't let him nurse; how do we get him to nurse?...she's sore; guide him to her udders and help him. I don't know what I would have done without Brandy! She has my eternal gratitude. And two hours later, he was on his wobbly little legs, nursing and getting to know Mom Mouse. He was also very, very imprinted thanks to that two hours of handling right after his birth. I think he thinks that Steve and I are his parents, too:)