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Saturday, June 7th, 2003
10:54a - Pandemonium Kind of a Day


Close friends know that I turn my nights and days around in the summer, but so far this year, I have been only partially successful. Too many daytime events have intruded on what needs to be sleep time if you treat day as night, and the temperatures have been very, very lovely, removing a big part of the motivation to do so.

Not knowing that, just as I was ready to drop off, one called me last night at midnight, opening with, "Were you asleep?" Assured that I had not gone to bed yet, we continued chatting leisurely until 2 am. I spent another hour winding back down to "sleep" mode.

Before 6 am, another friend in a panic called. The mare they'd leased had foaled, not cleaned, needed attention, but her family needed to get on the road to a wedding several hours away. "No problem," I mumbled, not very wide awake at all.

Yes, problem. All my body wanted to do was roll over and go into snooze mode. Instead, I got up, grabbed the top shirt on the clean pile and called the owner's number to let them into the loop on the mare. No such number. I called another relative for a more recent number, even though I KNEW they would not be awake.

The first choice vet was not going to be available until the afternoon, and the office lady wanted me to bring in the horse so it could be put in the stock. Well, with no horse trailer,that's a bit hard to do.

The second choice vet (whom I preferred) was immediately available, before I could get there, so I dashed. I ran into him on the highway, and when a short cut came up, I took it even though it was on gravel, as I thought I could get the mare haltered before she had to deal with a stranger.

I just barely beat him, heading out after showing him which pasture we'd be working in. The mare stood with her head down, not paying much attention to her surroundings. Normally, she's quite alert. My fear was that she'd be hard to catch as she tried to protect her colt, as I had not owned her since she was a yearling.

The vet had his young son with him, and even though the mare was looking quite lethargic, if she felt threatened, that could change in a heartbeat. Calming myself, talking cheerfully to the two mares, I headed over, anxious to get her before he came, but he hung back and let me catch both mares in the field and secure them before he came in to check it out.

First he went to the small pale pile of passed material. "That's not very much." Then he turned to check out the colt. He started to say something, stopped, then looked puzzled.

"The sire is a pony."

His face cleared. Concerned about how little of the afterbirth had passed, he went back for the proper things, donning a plastic sleeve on both arms. We closed the gate so the colt didn't wander off and his son didn't wander in.

At first I had trouble getting the mare to stand quietly -- she was just sore enough to keep stepping away, so we moved her along the fence, where she had a more limited range of motion.

Carefully, he worked her around, getting a lot of blood that had pooled out, two segments of cord, and finally the huge chunk of placenta. Everything was quite bloody by then, and the colt kept bumping into the hanging afterbirth before it was all released, smearing the tip of his blaze liberally, then wiping it repeatedly on my white shirt in various places.

His owner will be glad he's so friendly, I thought.

Taking two huge lozenges larger than a man's thumb, he inserted his arm one last time, pulled up a syringe as big around as a 50¢ piece, five or six inches long full of antibiotics, he inserted it in her neck vein.

She had her neck up higher now, and seemed to feel better. We turned both mares loose and watched them walk around a bit, finally heading back to the road. A sudden crash made us turn around, where the colt had gone UNDER the electric wire without hitting it, and was astraddle of the woven wire fence, which is mini pony height. As we watched, starting back to the gate, the colt got himself turned, and astraddle of it again, going back toward his dam. The three in that pasture, Fantasia, her daughter Denali, and Denali's daughter, were making a bee line for the new arrival, to check him out. The minis and Shetlands lined the other side of the pasture, but that fence was regular height.

Once he made it back and Hope inserted herself between Denali and the mother and foal, we left.

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