I will give a condensed take on my observations surrounding the pregnancy of this mare as this was the first time we foaled her out. This article will also serve as great record for future pregnancies for this mare!
Roxy was bred on May 31, 2013 and was checked in foal on June 13, 2013. This would point to an approximate due date of May 8, 2014 'if' she carried an average of 340 days. There were a few hiccups as the embryo appeared to be oversized and odd shaped for the age of 14 days under ultrasound, the worry being possible twinning. At 30 days a second US was done and revealed just one heartbeat.
All along this mare seemed to be overly large and my biggest fear was that perhaps the vet had missed a second heartbeat and that maybe she WAS carrying twins! I should mention that Roxy stands a towering 15h (haha) and is a lot like me in the fact that she can stay 'fat on air'!
On April 18th during my daily routine check of broodmares, I noticed that Roxy had a pinpoint spot of yellow wax on her left teat. Hmmmm, I thought it a bit strange since she was only at 319 days gestation...I took it a bit farther by expressing some of the fluid to check colour and consistency. What this next step revealed to me was quite shocking, Roxy had white milk! This stage was usually reserved for mares which foaling was imminent in my experience, so I hurriedly prepared the foaling stall!
So it starts...the overnight cat naps on hard, unforgiving lawn furniture. The paranoia that perhaps a bat was nesting in the barn and would surely bite me in my sleep, this thought causing me to take my naps with my head under the covers and waking with a screaming headache quite likely caused by inhaling my own carbon dioxide!
Oh the fun...living on snacks, fast food, coffee and sporting a shocking hairstyle who my sister insists on calling my "Madusa" look! (see image below for those who do not recognise the name).
Now keep in mind I am not a newbie to this foaling business but every year I start to second guess myself and for a minute I forget everything I know! That little niggling doubt sets in and then the 'what ifs' set in...
What if I sleep through the whole thing. What if she has a red bag delivery or some other tragic dystocia (an abnormal or difficult birth or labour). What if her colostrum is not good enough since her milk has been white for a while...all these negative thoughts keep my eyes well glued to her stall!
I should take a moment and touch on my family and how this process affects them...
I will start by saying that I have the most supportive and understanding husband any girl could ever wish for! He understands that during this time I am quite neurotic and not just a bit crazy (really quite certifiable) and he quietly accepts all of this. Although he has no equine background whatsoever, he has absorbed a great deal over the years and asks quite intelligent and relevant questions!
My kids don't always understand as well and just really miss me when there is no food in the fridge or on the table haha....but they do like the cute babies when they are born.
My sister who usually resides in Spain just happened to be with us this spring. She was very excited at the prospect of seeing a live birth and decided to set up camp with me! Well, lets say that one night of 'mare watch' cured that yearning quite nicely, further communications from her were by text message from 'inside' the house;).
Okay, okay, back to the foaling. So, from the initial discovery of the white milk, I spent an additional 5 nights of no foaling action. The first 4 nights were really not very remarkable...the 5th night the mare did a lot of circling and looked quite distraught. All the while she ate like a food shortage was imminent! After that restless night I decided that maybe turnout should be avoided that day, I also chose to take my work laptop to the barn and sit on close duty. I had been testing her calcium/ph levels in her milk and that morning they had made quite a jump, both up and down!
So in the evening of April 23rd on Roxy's 324th day of gestation things started to take shape. The circling in her stall was incessant, she didn't stop for hours...I prepared her the same as always by carefully wrapping her tail, not too tight and not too loose...washing her udder, under tail and legs...picked out her stall for the 100th time that day and sat down for my vigil.
At exactly 10:38pm on April 23rd, 2014 on Day 324 of gestation, Roxy's water broke! (I text messaged my sister at this time so she could come observe)
I breathed a sigh of relief upon the sight of the white amnion, at the very least 'no red bag' delivery today! The next sigh of relief was the presentation of the first foot, it was facing the proper direction with the bottom of the hoof facing down. Then came the second foot a few inches after the first, sigh of relief. The mare then stood up and would go up and down another 3 times in the next 15 minutes....now I am nervous.
When she had laid down again I decided it was time for a little help, it was obvious that she was having a bit of a time pushing this one out and 20 minutes had already lapsed in the process. At first she was a bit hesitant about me helping but I think common sense prevailed, I gave her a soft pat and spoke to her in a calm reassuring voice. As she bore down I gently slid my hands up above the pasterns of the foals legs, I could feel the little nose and after a tug from me and a push from her, most of the foals head was exposed. This was still the easy part, the hardest part was still to come, the shoulders and chest! Well between her and I, we 'got er done'...she pushed, I pulled and the result was a new beautiful colt!