A Sad Day

Often I take to my keyboard to post a new blog when I’ve snapped a cool shot, or feature a day when something really great has recently happened.

Today is not one of those days, however. And this isn’t one of those blogs.

Truth is, today my heart is heavy.

It became that way when I got the text that read, “We lost Chicolet’s foal.”

Four little words. They sent my day into a tailspin. I started blinking. I wanted to crumple up in a pile on the floor.

I wanted to wake up from this bad dream.

I think I had known ever since I first saw Chicolet just after 6:00 am this morning. There were 2 little hooves presenting themselves evenly and pointing to the right. She was sweating profusely. And it looked like a tornado had been through her stall. And despite all this, I still had hope that a healthy foal would be delivered.

But it was the text that finally made me realize it wasn’t to be so.

*****

Backing up so you know the full story, my husband had checked the mares at 2 am last night and Chicolet was showing the same small signs of waxing that she had been for several days, but she did not look any closer to foaling. So we figured she would be okay until feeding at 6 the next morning. And we knew she was becoming more overdue with every passing day, therefore we were keeping a pretty close eye on her. Everyone at our barn was.

But as it is with mares, they always seem to foal when you least expect it. And when our barn manager, Kim, alerted us first thing at feeding this morning, things sounded grim right from the start. I brushed my teeth quickly and threw on some jogging pants. I didn’t even give myself time to kiss my babies a quiet “Good Morning” before running out the door.

And as soon as I saw Kim’s face, I knew things weren’t good. One look at my very large pregnant mare, Chicolet, confirmed my worst fears. And then a glimpse of the two hooves emerging from her hind end, without a little nose following along put it all into perspective. A malpresentation was happening. Five minutes after I entered the barn, my neighbor Caroline who is a vet also came over to help. Chicolet was palpated and Caroline searched for the foal’s head, but could not reach it. At this point we suspected that the head had become stuck before entering the birth canal and with its long neck reaching backwards, it was almost impossible to readjust.

Shortly after 7 am, we had Dr. Chris Berezowski in our barn to see if there was anything he could do to help the situation. But unfortunately, he immediately knew that Chicolet would need to go to the Moore and Company Vet clinic, to use special equipment they had for extracting foals in such a position. The great mare she is, Chicolet loaded into a stock trailer and Dr. Berezowski sedated her. Clay and Kim then quickly drove her to the Balzac, AB, clinic where the vets would have to work fast if there was any chance of her survival. At this point, we knew there was a slim to no chance that the foal would live.

*****

Chicolet pictured here with her 2008 colt. She has been a fabulous show horse and mother.

After a 35-minute drive, Chicolet was anesthetized and hoisted up by her legs so the foal could be pushed back into the uterus and repositioned. The hoist was necessary if we wanted to save our mare. Finally, Dr. Berezowksi was able to get the foal positioned properly to come through the birth canal.

As it stands now, Clay left Chicolet at the clinic so she can receive the proper antibiotics she needs to bypass any infection that could threaten her now and to pass her placenta. She is under close observation for any secondary complications that may occur as a result of her dystocia, but Dr. Berezowski is giving her very good odds for recovery. We even tried bringing an orphan foal in, to see if Chicolet could help it and vice versa. However, my mare has rejected the baby. It is not meant to be.

It’s been a difficult day, but the two smiling human baby faces staring back from their play area bring me back to reality in a real hurry. Holding them helps. A lot. I am sad about the loss of this colt (it was a beautiful sorrel colt, by the way), but thankful for what I do have. I am extremely grateful to be surrounded by great neighbors. Thankful for being so close to a vet clinic that could deal with such a difficult situation in a timely manner. And thankful that my mare will live.

I know they’re animals, but it’s hard not to get emotional when one that you care so much about is in danger or pain. And the foals have a particularly special place in my heart.

It would be fabulous if I could just blog about all the wonderful things that happen in my life, in our barn and with our horses. I could do that. But I would be lying, because that just isn’t life.

But strangely enough, this story does have somewhat of a happy ending… Just when I thought Mother Nature had let me down so terribly, we were also blessed with two other healthy foals born to our program – in Saskatchewan – this morning. Not sure what it was about the early hours of today but three foals in one short period of time is pretty odd. I’m just happy they’re doing well!

This beautiful bay colt with unique facial markings was born to our program in SK today.

...And this adorable bay filly was also born this morning. What are the odds of that??

Comments

  1. So sorry about you trouble. I know that we put so much love and care into our horses and especially our mares in foal. There is so much promise in every newborn. Your other two look awesome. I love the unusual blaze!

  2. stacey huska says:

    so sorry for your loss & your pain.

  3. Jenn, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your baby. It is fortunate at least that you were able to save the mare from more pain and possible loss as well. I know what you are going thru. Last year we had 2 mares who should have been foaling. Only one carried to term, bred to a son of Cat Ichi. She was due in June, but went a full month overdue. Her baby was born on the hottest day in July, and I had to work a 12 hr shift that day and the next. We saw her first thing that morning, and she had already been up and nursed, so reluctantly I went to work with instructions for Colton to check on them frequently throughout the day. The foal was a pretty sorrel with a wide blaze and 4 high stockings, and the cutest dishy head. Mom loved her so, and was a good mom. By the evening day 2 it was clear that maybe something was amiss, as the foal was not rambunctious and it’s joints were unusually lax. The morning of Day 3 I started tube feeding, first with formula, and then with milk off the mare. Every 2hrs for 48 hrs I fed her, but she was still losing ground, on Day 4 we took her to the vet, and we IV’d 2L into her. She perked up right away and began to nurse, so I thought maybe we had rounded the corner. A 10 minute drive home and she was down in the trailer and looked almost dead. They change so fast those neonates. The rest of her time, we kept feeding and hanging fluid but she was starting to go into liver failure. She fought hard, but on Day 5 I had to return to work (no one was available to take my shift so I could stay home, but my boss did let me go home every 2 hrs). She died just after lunch. As it tuned out she was hypothyroid. In that short time and working so closely with her I got very attached. Breeding is such a tricky business, and in our experience we have had 3 healthy foals from 8 breeding attempts, with several born preterm, one slipped and one oops baby. This year I have 3 possible breedings to use on 2 mares (Shiners Lena Doc, Lakota Chic and the Cat Ichi son) but I am hesitant. Even when you do everything right things go wrong. A big hug from us to you. <3

  4. So sorry for your loss. I will pray that Chicolet returns home in good health. Every one of us that have animals understand the way you are feeling right now. Give your little angles a hug for me.

  5. So so sorry, Jenn… As you probably remember, I had foaling nightmares last year and this story and the fact that I have two mares to foal this year, brought it all back. I realize again how lucky we were to have been able to turn the foal (at home) that was sort of in the same position last year (upside down with head back but not as bad I guess as your foal). I was not as lucky with the next one though – my Rooster mare (mother of my stallions) delivered a still-born Wimpys Little Step. Yes, my heart broke too and I am not over it yet. I, like you, wrote about it in my blog and I know how hard that is to do. I tried to think of it as “writing through the pain” but I’m not sure that worked. So…. I can truly say I know how you must feel – it hurts to lose any foal but a losing one from a such a special mare makes it that much worse. You will be thinking, as I did, how lucky you are to not lose your mare but it’s hard and it will be difficult for a long time. Hugs, Jenn. I cry as I type…

  6. Debbie Scott says:

    Wow, I had a similar experience with a great mare of mine, we lost a gorgeous perfect palomino filly, and its a long story, but it devastated me and i have not had the courage to breed again, the pain was crushing.

    I am very sorry for your loss and no they are not just animals, they are your life, my horses bring me peace of mind and great joy,

    May tomorrow be a better day.
    Debbie Scott

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