pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

The Birth

I did the 4 am hourly check in a pretty peaked condition. Coqet was not outlined by the yard light against the fence where she'd been standing nightly for quite a while now. I checked behind the house, but she was not there, where she'd foaled last year, either.

Ah, she must be hidden by the end of the house. I slipped sockless into my oldest shoes and schlepped around the corner of the house. Empty. I headed out into the pond pasture where she goes for water most of the time, even though I keep a huge wheelbarrow full of rural water for her right under the faucet. Sometimes she drinks there, but more often, she plays with the chemical-laden water, then hikes around to the pond for her liquid refreshment. So, I, too, hiked carefully around to the pond, sorry after I had set out that I had not taken a flashlight.

As I reached a part where she had let the path deterioriate, I heard a sound behind me. I'm SURE I checked that area thoroughly enough not to have missed a thousand pound mare, even if she were on her side...

I could see nothing very far off once out of the area lit by the yard light at the bottom of the hill, but a bit of pre-dawn light was letting me dodge the biggest chunks of downed trees. As the pond border became wilder, the light became slightly better. The path stopped cold in a downed tree. I nearly turned back, but mares can hunt out the most inaccessible areas for foaling, and even tame ones will. Thoroughness was required.

I heard more rustling noises behind me. Birds were beginning to awake and twitter. A frog jumped into the pond. A bit further and the path dead-ended into a huge downed tree, half on the fence. I stopped.

Hearing more rustling behind me, I turned. The light was a bit better, and there on the path was Twistatrill. More rustling, and the first of the two wild black females emerged from the weeds onto the path.

I had dumped out a partial scoop of cat food before I went to check around the end of the house, so I was quite surprised to see them, especially the wild one. Mothers in search of a new mother...

I climbed over a log and set out for the far fence line, keeping both pond and fence line in sight, scanning every inch between to be sure it did not hide a down mare. Nothing. I hit the far fence line and turned south along it, heading back to the road to the bale pen. Nothing. Soon I'd scrambled my way to the end of the pond. A path re-emerged, so I walked more freely.

As I skirted another huge evergreen blocking the trail, I looked up and spotted Coqet silhouetted against the sky. She was in the farthest corner of the bale pen, a safe, sensible place, relatively flat, free of the thorny underbrush I'd been searching. A foal born there would be unlikely to crawl into trouble before it stood.

I began to talk to her soothingly so she did not spook and take a mobile foal on a wild scramble before I'd gotten close enough to check it.

When I could see the ground, I looked eagerly for spots. No foal. I gazed at her again -- had she foaled yet? I thought so, but the angle was not right to tell for sure.

Reaching the gate, I could see a body, flat out on the ground, a solid bay body. She stood ten to fifteen feet away, exhausted. Four white socks on long, long legs. The foal had been born alive -- the scuff marks in the dirt showed where it had tried to stand. Coqet stood by the afterbirth, so he'd crawled a way.

Putting my hand on the tail, I lifted it -- another colt. The body was still warm, but chilling. It was still damp from the birth fluid. I picked up the head, but got no reaction. Deciding it was still breathing a bit, I began to rub and roust, picking up the head every once in a while. It was loggy, not even trying to move. After a bit, it did roll to a sitting position when I moved the head. I increased my efforts.

Coqet still stood off, not paying any attention. The foal and I were on her blind side, but she was making no effort to find the foal, or to keep track of where I had gone, most unlike her. Finally, the colt tried to rise, making no moves even remotely likely to be successful. I set the two front legs out in front and rubbed until he tried again, then supported and boosted, but we didn't make it.

The sky lightened again, and finally the combination was right, and he stood. I was quite disappointed when he collapsed and showed no signs of trying again. More rubbing. Somewhere along the way, he'd begun to try to suck, even though he had nothing near his mouth. Well, at least if I can keep him on his feet long enough, he'll get nourishment. Foals with no sucking reflex are dead, no matter how adept they are at standing.

Another attempt, supported belly and rear, and he was again upright and maintaining. Coqet staggered over, finally taking an interest. The foal walked forward a bit, and as he moved, I made it more likely that he'd end up in the proper nursing position on her good eye side. He began to search me for milk as often as her. She reached down and nuzzeled him, making soft, comforting noises. I knew it was time to walk off and let them bond.

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