Technically Missy was due to have her foal on May 21st, 2001, but it did not turn out that way. As a result Rick and I spent literally 24 hours a day out in the barn sitting and working on stuff so that we would be there for SURE when the baby was born in case there were any complications. Once in a while one of us would go in the house to get a couple hours sleep here and there, but that is about it. Needless to say we were pretty darn exhausted by the time the entire ordeal was over with. But, just by ACCIDENT we actually were there to see the whole thing from start to finish.
I had raised goats in the past and had been through a zillion births so you would think that a horse having a baby would be no big deal to me. WRONG! I didn't have a clue what to watch for or expect or anything. So, like any NOVICE would do, I went out and bought a book on foaling. I went through all the books and finally settled on one written by a Veterinarian for $25.00. Who better to know this whole birthing process and the signs that lead up to it than a Veterinarian, right? Well, that is what I thought anyway. Hehehe.
As soon as I got it I read it thoroughly. I wanted to know all of the signs to watch for so that there would be no way that I could miss it. I was concerned about the foaling because the lady that I bought Missy from told me of a horror story that happened to her the year before with one of her mares that foaled. I knew that I couldn't handle a situation like that, but the vet lived close by so I knew that I could call him and he would be there quick to help if the need should arise. So like the responsible horse owner that I am I thought the book would be my "Bible" on what to watch for as she was getting close to birthing.
The book contained EXCELLENT pictures on what the mare was supposed to look like at various stages right prior to foaling. Her tail bone was SUPPOSED to be raised way, way high above her rump a couple days before foaling. WRONG! Missy's never did that. It did raise a bit, but NOTHING at ALL like the photo showed. Around the tail bone it was supposed to get real soft and mushy. This it DID do. Yeah!
Then there was the bag/udder. Having been around my goats I expected the udder to get great big and fill up just like they did. I expected the udder to hang way down like a cow or goat would. Since there were no real pictures of the udder in the book I just went on that assumption. Dumb me! So, of course I would look at her udder all the time expecting it to change into a cow like udder. Then one day Rick and I went to the farm store and I got to glancing through the other foaling books. In one of them was a picture of a mares udder. It was NOT big and hanging down like a cows. It was right up against her stomach. It was just kind of long and spread out. Well, I realized then that this was the way her udder was and it was getting larger all the time.
Then the book talked about how her udder would soften up quite a while before the actual foaling day. Again, WRONG! Missy's udder never softened up hardly at all. It stayed hard and was split in two halves still. The book said as the udder grew and filled up it the two halves would disappear. They DID NOT!!!
She did follow some things though. The baby dropped down and her stomach was real low like it was supposed to do. Her flanks caved in and she got the "look" that the book talked about and showed pictures of in her rear area so I knew that she was getting close, but had no idea she was as close as she was because these looks were NOT as pronounced as they were supposed to be according to the pictures.
Then we get to the milk or fluid in the udder. This was the main thing I kept checking constantly. According to the book this was also the main thing to check. This was supposed to give you the very best indication of how close the mare was to foaling. What a bunch of HOG WASH!!! Well, perhaps it is true in some cases, but CERTAINLY not in my case.
The first stuff in the udder was supposed to be a clear THIN liquid. This was supposed to happen days and days before foaling. At this point you are supposed to go out and check the mare like every 2 days. Missy got that all right, but about 24 hours before foaling.
The second stage, the clear thin liquid was supposed to thicken up, but pretty much stay the same color. At that point you were supposed to check the mare every day. Again, Missy got that all right, but it was like 2 hours before foaling.
The third stage was when the thicker liquid would take on a yellowish tinge and get real thick. This was the stage I was waiting for. At this stage you should check your mare hourly. The book did say that sometimes the mare will foal at this stage and never make it to the last 2 stages. However, it said that most mares will foal in about 48 hours from this stage. So, I was really paying close attention for the liquid to get in this manner. Needless to say, Missy NEVER made it this far. Had I not been staying out there out of fear and excitement and had only been relying on this information I would have totally missed the foaling.
The fourth stage is when the yellowish tinged liquid starts to turn a milky color. It stays real thick at this point. Missy NEVER got there!!!
The last stage which is pretty much right before foaling the liquid turns into milk and get thinner... like milk is supposed to be. Again... Missy NEVER got there!!!
At some point during the 4th and 5th stage... closer to the 5th, milk should start leaking out. This will be during the thick stage because as it leaks out it dries up and is left hanging out of the nipples. By the time the mare foals this string can be as long as 4". Missy NEVER made it here!
Other things that she was supposed to do were to start to sweat profusely in the chest area, behind the front legs and in the flank area. She did this 2 days before she foaled, 1 day before she foaled and the day she foaled. Now this was supposed to be a sign at about 4 hours before foaling. Needless to say, this was another WRONG indicator at least as far as Missy.
She was also supposed to back up to fences and walls and press her rump against them. This she did, again... 2 days before she foaled, 1 day before she foaled and the day she foaled. Now this was supposed to be a sign right before she foaled because it was a sign she was in ACTUAL LABOR. Again, this was another WRONG indicator at least as far as Missy.
At the final stage of Labor Missy was supposed to start becoming real nervous and restless. This she did... once again... 2 days before she foaled, 1 day before she foaled and the day she foaled. Then at the very end she was supposed to start kicking at her stomach and biting at it. She NEVER did this one at all. This was supposed to happen like in the VERY last stages of Labor.
On the evening Missy FINALLY foaled, May 24, 2001, we were pretty tired and having a hard time staying awake. Ron, my Uncle, had purchased a chain saw and was cutting up the rotten wood that was laying around the place into firewood for his fireplace. Out back in Missy's corral we had fenced off an area that had a bunch of junk laying around and in there was a bunch of rotten poles and other lumber that we were giving to Ron to cut up into firewood.
Around 8:30pm we had pretty much done all that we could in the barn for the time being so we decided to go out in the corral and get a load of wood loaded up into the wheel barrow to take to Ron. Missy was hanging around outside and going back inside and had been doing this for several hours. She was real sweaty all over and she was dripping a clear liquid, not THICK AT ALL, NO COLOR TO IT, out of her nipples/teats. I told Rick that she was bagging up, but that I didn't figure she would go into labor at all for at least... at the VERY LEAST... another 4 hours and that I really didn't figure she would go into labor until the wee hours of the morning since none of the signs were there.
We had previously cleaned Missy's stall thoroughly in preparation for the big event. I'm telling you, that thing was spotless. We shoveled all the old straw and manure out and raked and raked and raked the stall until there was not a speck of anything left on the ground. Then we put 3 bales of straw in there to make a real nice soft padding. It was the PERFECT environment for any horse to foal in and one that ANY horse would CHOOSE to have her foal.
Missy is a very clean horse. As a general rule she will go outside of her stall to go to the bathroom. Therefore in the little area of the corral right outside her stall door is where she goes to the bathroom. Very UNSANITARY and CERTAINLY NOT a place I would want her to foal because of all the germs and filth and such. And, of course, I EXPECTED her to want to foal in her nice soft, clean, sanitary stall rather than out there in the manure.
Rick and I were out there loading up the wheel barrow and Missy was standing over in the manure part of the corral. By the time we had gotten the wheel barrow loaded it was probably... oh... I'd say about 45 minutes and it was just getting dusk. Rick had gotten a hold of it and was starting to turn it so that we could wheel it back through the corral to give to Ron. I had just turned towards Missy as well when ALL OF A SUDDEN SHE JUST DROPPED TO THE GROUND!!!! NO WARNING SIGNS, NO NOTHING... SHE JUST LITERALLY COLLAPSED ON THE GROUND!!!!
The instant she hit the ground her water broke. Almost simultaneously the bag started to protrude out. Rick and I just stood there in shock for a few seconds. At the time it seemed like minutes, but you know how those things go. All of a sudden it dawned on me that she could NOT foal in those unsanitary conditions so I ran over there to her and proceeded to get her up. THANK GOODNESS I had the halter on her so that I could pull on it to get her up.
I got her back into the stall and closed door. She was real nervous at this point and started circling her stall. The bag was still sticking out. She did this for probably 15 minutes and would not lay down or anything. I started to worry that perhaps it had been a mistake to get her up and move her, but hoped that everything would be OK. I hoped that I had just made her nervous by moving her and that she would settle down and get back to business soon.
Well, it wasn't long and down she went again and started pushing. She would get up and down and up and down many times during the entire process. She started in actual labor at 9:35pm. That is when she finally laid down and stayed there and started pushing.
The lady I purchased Missy from told me what to expect once things started to come out so that was what I was watching for. Unlike the goats that usually have their feet and head coming out all at once, in horses, the feet and legs come out quite a ways before the head shows up. So, I was watching real closely because it was real important that the head follow the 2 legs. She told me that the 2 legs come out first at the same time and then the head.
Once the bag broke apart out came a foot. I could tell that it was white or light colored right off the bat. A good indicator that the foal would be Palomino. As she pushed more and more of the foot appeared. Then the leg appeared. Then more of the leg appeared. There was NO SECOND FOOT OR LEG! Pretty soon she had pushed so much that the entire leg was out of her. OH BOY!!! I'm panicking. Where is the second foot... leg? I can't see it.
Now in goats as soon as that foot or feet is out it starts moving around. However, the leg sticking out of Missy was NOT MOVING AT ALL!!! MORE panic was setting in. I kept watching closely to see if I could see movement at all and there was NONE! This just added to my panic.
Poor Missy just kept pushing and pushing. Then she would just collapse and lay there. This went on for what seemed like an eternity. Rick was, of course, taking a ton of pictures of all that was going on. We were both getting very worried since there was no further progress so we decided that I had better call the vet and get him out there fast.
Rick ran to the house and got the phone book. I had already had the forethought to bring the phone out there just in case we needed it. I had set a table up out there and had everything on it. A dozen rolls of film, my iodine, my towels, liquid hand soap that was antibacterial, a notebook to record the events into, a pen, scissors, you name it, I had it there.
By the time Rick got back from the house there was still no progress. I was just frantic. I grabbed the phone to call the vet and stupid us... we had left the computer hooked up to the internet so I was not able to call out. Oh Man!!!
So, Rick ran back to the house to disconnect the internet. All the while I'm getting more panicked and Missy is STILL not making any further progress. I've still just got one whole leg and no movement. Because of my previous experience with all those years raising the goats I THOUGHT this was NOT RIGHT! I was scared to death that the foal was dead even though I had felt it move just a couple days before.
While Rick was gone I kept trying the phone over and over again. I just KNEW that I had to get that vet out there FAST. Finally I got a dial tone and dialed the number. An answering machine answered the phone and told me to leave a message about what the emergency was and then to go ahead and call another number to get a hold of the vet.
So I proceeded to leave my frantic message: "This is Pam Pole. My phone number is 266-4405. I live in the old Stidham place on Hwy 287... 8527 Hwy 287. My horse is foaling. I think that something is terribly wrong. She's been in labor since 9:35pm and it is now 9:55pm. All I have is one foot and leg. Nothing else. The foot is not moving. She can't seem to get the rest out. I don't see the second leg and there is no head." It felt like it was taking FOREVER to get all the information out and on the answering machine.
All of a sudden right in mid sentence Missy gave a big huge push and out came the entire foal. I mean it! THE ENTIRE FOAL CAME BURSTING OUT IN ONE BIG PUSH!!! AND IT WAS MOVING!!!! There was NOTHING wrong with it at all!!!!
Of course I freaked. I yelled into the phone: "Never mind. The foal just came out. It's all right!" and then hung up. The time was 9:57PM. You bet I knew the exact time because I had my clock radio out there and looked. This is very important you know. Hehehe.
I'm sure that the lady who listened to the message the next day thought I was plum nuts. Hehehe. In fact when I called the next day to make an appointment to have the foals shots given and have him checked, she did laugh. But we laughed together. Hehehe.
By the time Rick got back to the barn Bandit hadn't come out yet and he was lucky enough to be able to see the entire birth happen. I was sure glad of this because it had been such an anticipated event for so long and it sure would have been a shame if he had missed it.
After I hung up the phone I rushed in there with my towels and started getting his nose and mouth cleared out. He was laying there with his head right up in the air. It was so neat. He fought me like crazy though because he did NOT like to have my towel in his nose and mouth, but I persisted until I was sure that I had him all cleared out.
Man! I can't describe to you how neat this all was. I had my VERY FIRST BABY HORSE!!!!! INCREDIBLE!!!! I was just ecstatic. I was loving every minute of it. I really didn't want to be cleaning him up... I wanted to be WATCHING EVERYTHING!!
Rick kept asking me if he was a boy or girl and... I'm embarrassed to say, but I honestly could not tell. I tried to look down between his legs in the back and front and I just couldn't see what I thought I would need to see to be able to determine what sex he was. Well, since I keep calling him a "HE", you obviously know that he turned out to be a male. Hehehe.
I rubbed him down quite a bit and got him dried off pretty well and then stood back so that I could see what he looked like. I was so disappointed at first because he was a light reddish brown color and NOT light at all like a Palomino should be or so I thought. I just KNEW that he was going to be a Red Dun and NOT a PALOMINO like I wanted.
We proceeded to stand there and watch him and Missy who was still laying down. She was a pretty darn exhausted lady. I kept whining to Rick that the baby was NOT going to be a Palomino. He kept insisting that he WAS going to be a Palomino once he dried off. I gotta tell ya, I was 100% certain that I was going to have a Red Dun and if I did he was going to be sold!
It was SO much fun watching all his little antics. At first he kept jerking his head and looking around. Rick thought there was something wrong with him, but I knew it was just the beginnings of him trying to see and get his strength up. He was just so darn cute. He had such a great big head and these long, long legs. His ears were huge too. He was so out of proportion. Hehehe.
After we went through this whole process I got out the Iodine and really soaked his cord good. I did it again a few minutes later so I knew he was well protected.
The next step was him trying to walk around. He would make a couple of jerky off balance steps and down he would go. Then back up and a few more jerky off balance steps. I was just enthralled. This whole experience was so new to me and I couldn't do a thing but keep watching him. It took him a while but he was finally able to actually walk around some.
All I wanted to do was just look at him and not miss one solitary second of what he was doing. While all of this was going on Rick was on the phone to his mother telling her every move that he made. She was so excited and was loving every minute of it. She kept telling us to take more and more pictures so that we could document every bit of the first hour of his life. As I type this I am smiling and smiling and smiling remembering all of this once again. It was so very special! For sure something that I never thought would ever happen to me, but yet it did!!!
Next was nursing the first time. They are so funny... not just the foal, but the goats were too... as they are trying to find that nipple. They lick and suckle all over the place in search of that illusive little piece of flesh. It seems that with this guy as well as the goats they tend to head right to the chest first and then work their way back. Missy, of course, kept nudging him until finally he found the spot. Oh the noise he made sucking the first time. It was just the neatest thing. He sure went right to town on it too. I was so surprised at how sturdy he was on his feet while standing there nursing and he had only been born maybe 45 minutes at that point. He wasn't hardly wobbly at all by then.
You should have seen the muscles in this little guy once he stood up. You would have thought he was months old and had been running around all day long. On the side of his hips the muscles were clearly defined and stood out. It makes me wonder what the heck he was doing in that womb the whole 11 months he was in there... running a marathon. Hehehe. We could tell right away once he got up on his feet that he is going to end up big a large horse. He will be VERY stocky... JUST THE WAY I LIKE THEM!!! He has a real nice broad chest on him too. They say that if a horse is born with a big head that is also an indication that they are going to be big and he for sure had one heck of a big head on him.
We stayed out there for about 2 hours after he was born and ended up taking about 8 rolls of film of him. We finally left mother and son to enjoy each other and bond and we went inside to eat.
After we ate I was just so exhausted that I had to go to sleep for a bit. While I slept Rick went back out to the barn and watched them some more and took a few more pictures. The next morning I was up at the crack of dawn and out in the barn. I just about fell over. He WAS a Palomino though an almost white Palomino. That was how light he was. I really prefer the darker Golden Palominos, but I figured he would do. I wasn't a 100% sure that I would keep him if he did not darken up, but at that point I figured I would since I was already in love with him.
As I sat there and watched him here he was actually RUNNING around the stall. This foal was barely 12 hours old and he was that sturdy and strong. He was not running hard, but he was running. I went in the stall to pet him and he was still a little unsure of me. He took off running and ran right underneath Missy's belly. Boy, she sure didn't like that one little bit. Her ears went back and she nipped at him. I imagine she was pretty sore and his hard body probably hurt her.
He also had another cute habit that first day. If he didn't want me to pet him on the face or neck he would turn around and back right up to me and hit me hard with his rump. Then he would let me pet his butt. Hehehe. I noticed that he would do that to Missy too. She didn't seem to mind.
Missy is the best mother. She didn't mind me bothering her baby one little bit even when he would get afraid and run back to her. She would watch him as he would approach me. The only thing she did that I would call protective was that after I would get to pet him for a few seconds she would then move in between him and me. I would try to go around her to get to him and she would move right along with me and stay between us. She NEVER showed any signs of aggression at all though. I think she was more trying to comfort him than trying to stop me from getting around him. He was pretty curious about me though and would come up to me from time to time to check me out. I tried to be real slow in my movements so as to not startle him.
As each day passes he is developing more of a personality and I'm loving him just that much more. He is starting to darken quite a bit and is no longer almost white. He is starting to get more Golden each and every day like his daddy which is the color I want him to become.
He is an ornery little cuss at times and has a mind of his own. He pesters his poor mom to death. He tries to run under her but can't anymore since he has grown so much. When he does this it startles her to death. Hehehe. She really gives it to him too. She'll lay back those ears and not just nip him lightly anymore, but really lets him have it.
He has another new habit that she is not enjoying at all. He will go up to her and start to nurse. He will have his rump away from her and then all of a sudden just throw his rump right into her shoulder. Oh Boy! Another thing she hates. Needless to say he gets the bite treatment for that too. Hehehe.
He also plays what I call the "Hi Ho Silver" game. He will run right up to her, rear up and pounce right on the nearest part of her to him. Again... he get disciplined for that too. Hehehe. Poor Missy! What that poor lady has to go through for her child. Hehehe.
Bandit is all grown up now. He was sold to a Champion Barrel Racer in Canada at age 2. If you would like to see photos of him all grown up, you can go to his page... Missy's Regal Bandito.
I'll end this now by saying that I'm enjoying every minute of having this wonderful new addition to the household. Even though the whole birthing process was so nerve racking, you can bet that I'll do it again and again. Now... if I can just sell the new foals and not keep them, I'll be fine.
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