Handling New Arrivals

Plenty of excitement describes this year’s foal delivery. The maiden mare was long past the average due date and I was on the phone that morning to the vet, glancing at the mare in the paddock after another long night watching her restlessly pace her double stall. One the phone, I say, when I saw two legs protruding from under the mare’s tail, the grey shroud of the amniotic sac dangling around them. Whoops! Out I went and stood quietly at a respectful distance and prayed that she would lie down. She did and then got right back up. More praying. Finally she stayed down and the contractions continued – weakly. The baby did not move and still did not move. The legs were out to the knees so I firmly grabbed the slimy bag covered appendages and pulled with the contractions. Without success. Then I remembered to pull DOWN towards the mare’s hooves … and got movement. Push and pull, push and pull and slowly, so slowly, the foal inched out. “The nose. Is it out far enough? Will it stay out? Yes, open the sac and clear it from the emerging face. Now the shoulders and think about where the umbilical cord is. The shoulders out and we don’t want the umbilical cord pinched so here we go! Whoosh! Baby out! Baby out! A beautiful baby! Dam and I start licking and towel drying the wee arrival already shivering in the cool Spring air. Then there’s the baby getting to it’s feet; the nervous, inexperienced mom; the placental tissues which finally have to be weighted with a water filled bag to slip out. So much excitement but the baby stands … and nurses! Hurray! Good work, mom.”

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