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.
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!