I need to say that some of these pictures are graphic. So, if you have a light stomach, you might not want to view this post. Also, I need to tell you that these pics were taken off of a webcam. The quality meets that standard but these pics aren’t very crisp. Oh well, what can you do?… So we have a somewhat blurry account of a miraculous save! Here are the details:
First off, I feel like I just witnessed one of those movies with all of the pertinent elements; action, drama, suspense, trauma, intrigue, danger, sacrifice, plot twists, near misses and eternal devotion wrapped up in about one hour of time last Saturday night… I witnesses this all via web cam as I sat gripping my chair in front of my computer screen. OK, let me set the stage… This pregnant mare, unnamed through this process but named during this process as Nita, was rescued from an environment where she ran heavily in foal with a very aggressive stallion. Her grandmother mare had been savagely attacked by the stallion (she was probably protecting her get) while her Mother with a 3-day foal was being run about the paddock by the same stud. And here was this poor, tired, timid, young maiden pregnant mare, terrified and still stuck, totally vulnerable, with the stallion. Luckily, New Beginnings Animal Refuge collected the very hurt grandmother (she is still in the equine hospital), the Mare and new Baby as well as the very pregnant mare and got all of them away from the young and untrained stallion. You can read the initial post about their rescue here.
Now, Grandma mare (19 years and mother to Mom with 3-day old foal) is in the hospital. New Mom (Mother to maiden mare) and her baby are at the rescue in a stall. Worried maiden mare is unapproachable and very defensive in the stall with the web cam. Since no one knew when the maiden mare had been covered, no one really knew when she was due. However, it was apparent that maiden mare was close to foaling.
All of us Rescue Helper Aunties who were aware of the initial rescue, would watch diligently every night to see if maiden mare would foal. But, nothing was happening. Night after night we sat vigil. But, nothing. After a week, many of us Aunties kinda started to wane from our duties. Then, one day, Becky from the Rescue alerted us that she saw wax. Yeehaw! Aunties all over the US started to circle the wagons and glue themselves to their computers. Birth was imminent.
OK, now this is where I come in. I’m kind of an Honorary Auntie because I was truly interested. But, I didn’t set my clock by the web cam or anything. I just knew the address and would punch it in every morning and every evening, just to see what was up. Well, on Sat eve, after I had done the dishes, I was coasting by my computer. (The lovely part of this is that I am on the West coast and Nita is waaaaay to the East of me. So, her night time (or baby birthing time) is quite a bit earlier by my clock…) Lo and Behold, as I was strolling past my computer, I caught a glimpse of what seemed to be a mare doing track and field events in her stall. Whoa! She was up, down, round and round… snapping at her sides, sweating and rolling. Hmmmm. I’ve witnessed many mares who were ready to foal and this was looking like that.
I sat down at my computer to take note. Gosh. I started to get uncomfortable. This was now really looking like showtime! But, I knew that the main people from the rescue, Becky and Bob, had decided to go out to dinner with friends. (Bob and Becky never leave and this was a long planned event.) Aaaah. What to do? What to do? All of us Aunties knew B&B were gone to dinner but only one of us, Premier Auntie, had their cell phone number (for obvious reasons). As I watched this mare, I also pulled up the live chat that was going on between several Auntie Strangers. All of us were watching the web cam and scratching our heads and fidgeting. This looked very unsettling. The mare looked very close to foaling. Should we pull the trigger? Should we call B & B away from their one dinner out this month? Is this a false alarm or the real deal?! Finally, I could take it no more and put my fingers to the keyboard to ask the matron with the cell number to CALL! Alas, she had the same idea and had already pushed SEND. B&B were on their way!
We knew B&B were only minutes away but OMG it seemed like hours. As we Aunties sat glued to the screen, we felt helpless to aid this poor mare who had no idea what was happening to her and was obviously in extreme pain. She rolled, she got up, she went down again… She flipped so fast and violently, the camera couldn’t even keep up with her movement. It seemed like she was leaping from corner to corner.
Then it happened. I saw a foot. I looked to the instant message board for confirmation and someone else had seen a foot! It was real. The bag was there and protruding. Ahhhhhhhgh! Where were B&B?! For what seemed like an eternity, we watched that lone foot hang outside of its mothership. The mare paced and turned and went down again. Ahhhhhhhghhhghh. Aunties around the globe were rocking and grimacing in their seats… This was taking entirely too long. Something was wrong. The foot just hung and there was no advancement. When, when would they arrive??!! And then we saw the mare stop. She stopped and listened. B & B must have entered the barn! The mare was frozen as she stood waiting for someone to help her.
Instantly the cam showed the light of salvation as the stall door opened and Bob rushed in. Immediately, we see Bob jump into action. He grabs the foot and starts to pull against the mare and her contractions. We can see Becky on the phone. Clearly, she is speaking to the vet who must be coaching Bob. A few frames later, you see Bob circling the stall with Nita as he keeps a grip in the emerging foal. But, nothing is happening. The baby is caught or something… Something is wrong. This is not like a normal delivery. The foal should have been out by now. Bob shouldn’t have to be pulling. OMG. All the Aunties were frantic!
Suddenly, Becky bursts into action. Both B & B are at the back end of the mare, holding onto the baby for dear life while the mare, new to this whole situation, does what nature told her to to — walk. She walked and pushed as B&B walked an pulled. We could see Bob trying to turn the foal but the foal was coming out sideways anyway. Ouch. Push, push, pull, pull as they danced around the stall. I was on the edge of my seat! I hope the baby is OK. I hope it can breathe. I hope the cord isn’t wrapped around it. I hope the mare doesn’t tear. OMG!!
Then, in one ocean like moment, a wave of baby came spilling out of Mama. B&B were there to catch this slippery pod as it ejected and headed heavily towards the stall floor. Both B&B dropped to the ground with baby and laid there. ???? Is Baby OK? Is Baby alive? What happened? No one was moving. Bob got up and we see him on the phone. Becky is still on the ground outside of the camera view. There is no movement with Becky and Baby. I was afraid of the awkward stillness. I wished I could read Bob’s lips. What was he saying to the vet?
And then I knew… Becky sat up and wiped tears from her eyes. Oh. The baby must have died. Becky was sitting up and sobbing. Oh no. The baby is dead… But no! I swear I just saw a foot move!!! Did I see a foot move? Immediately, fingers are flying on the chat board! “Did you see that?” and “I think it moved!” We see Becky use her cell phone. She is calling an Auntie. The news flash blazes across the chat line, “Baby is OK!” A communal Auntie sigh of relief permeates across the continent. Baby is safe.
Becky informs Premier Auntie that baby was sideways. The vet had told them to pull when the mare pushed and to try to adjust the baby to come out in a diving position. And they succeeded, almost. At least they helped.
And, for the first time since the little frightened maiden mare arrived, Nita let them help. She didn’t kick when they came near, she didn’t pin her ears or back away. She did whatever B&B told her to do. As Becky told me later, “I couldn’t believe how good Momma was. She listened to everything we said.”
Once baby was out and moving, Becky dried him off. Yes, it was a colt! Other visitors joined the vigil and watched as exhausted baby laid on the stall floor. Nita sniffed him and nudged him like a good Mama. But, baby wasn’t getting up. He had no energy left to nurse. After several gut wrenching minutes, the crowd around the stall decided to intervene. They attempted to upright baby and move him towards Mama. Well, that is like uprighting noodles. Easier said than done. As soon as they would get baby to Mama, she would move. So, in came the halter and Mama was controlled. Then, again, the team of baby wranglers set about uprighting the noodle. They did. Baby was maneuvered (literally) to Mama and Becky milked Nita just a bit to get the taste to Baby. That worked! Baby hungrily latched right on! Yeah, one milestone down.
After a few solid drinks, Team NBAR pit crew came in to clean up the stall. Momma and Baby were escorted out and then back in easily. Ahhhh, fresh, clean shavings. Momma and Baby had a lovely nap after all of their work. Aunties across the nation were flying their fingers across keyboards, exclaiming far and wide. ” Oh what a cute baby, two white socks! He is so big, no wonder she had trouble! Thank goodness B&B got there in time! Oh, he is such a pistol, running all around the stall…” The chatter went on and on… names were being bantied about and all sorts of congradulations were widespread.
Life was new among us. Another miracle.
What amazed me about this whole experience was the birth, yes… but even more powerful to me was the union of strangers bound by a mutual love for this mare they didn’t know, her past and present pain, and the hope of new life out of the previous tragic situation. None of us knew each other yet all of us were communing for this one mare and her keepers. We were the audience rooting for the goal like a nation roots for the underdog at the Olympics. And, that massive, exhilarated cheering section, as we all sat drained and musing in front of our keyboards, one by one we signed off for bed — only to arise in the morning and immediately switch on the cam. Yup, Momma and Baby are just fine. Yes, everything is alright.
And as I sit here, today, a full 24 hours later, I wonder how this would have gone down if Momma was still in that pasture with the aggressive stallion… Well, we all have a pretty good idea what would have happened. So, I ponder the situation, loving the wheels that set this rescue in motion. I love that NBAR found out about these sorry mares. I love that they went through the trouble to rescue them even though NBAR didn’t have the funds collected. And, I love that B&B were there to help this mare with the birth of her foal who otherwise would have been stallion stomped, for sure. Wow. Some things turn out really well…
In Becky’s words to me, “This is something we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. This is what rescue is all about.”
If you would like to help with this mare and baby (and the other mare and baby…), please visit NBAR. They are a 501 (c) 3.
I hope I told this story as you remember. If not, please comment and I will add your bits in there…
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!