We bought Cover Girl Mattie as a yearling. Like her name, she was beautiful. We trained her to race and after winning many races and surviving a racing accident, she retired and became a mommy.
Mattie’s first baby came into the world with slight difficulty. In veterinary school we were taught that a foal should be delivered with their nose coming in between their two front feet/legs. We were taught that any abnormal presentation needed correction and that correction was accomplished by pushing the foal back into the mother’s uterus, correcting the incorrect position, and then having the foal delivered correctly. In about two seconds I learned that this is easier said than done.
I arrived home from my nursing work at 12:30 AM to find Mattie’s baby coming with ONE leg and his nose. I called some local farmers because everyone knows it is critical to deliver a foal quickly and if there are problems, they need addressed or mom and/or baby could be lost.
I tried to push that foal back to correct the position as I was taught, but I couldn’t. He didn’t budge when I pushed with all my strength. I placed my hand inside Mattie and determined that the foal’s right front leg was back, but had enough room to be delivered. I began pulling the foal’s left front leg and the mouth. This was difficult because foals are wet and slippery. Mattie strained to push as I pulled. I put my foot on the back of her rear leg for leverage to pull more strenuously on the foal. I yelled, “Push, Mattie” as she continued to push and I continued to pull.
We worked for what seemed like an eternity but was probably 10-15 minutes. Finally, that foal plopped out onto the straw bedding in the stall. He looked exactly like his mommy- a huge black boy with long spindly legs. As I admired him, Mattie fell to the ground. I couldn’t move. I began crying and asked the farmers who had arrived to help me if she died. The memories of vet calls where mamas ruptured blood vessels and died during foaling filled my thoughts. As a veterinarian, I should have checked her, but as her owner and mama, I couldn’t. I was too upset and afraid. With calm voices, they assured me she was just exhausted.
After a short rest, Mattie stood up She instinctively knew she had to have this little guy nurse. The first milk is important for foals because it provides proteins that protect against disease and are only absorbed in the first 24 hours of life. Both Mattie’s and her foal’s legs wobbled as I helped him into position to suckle. She nuzzled him as if to say, ‘Hello, son, I am your mommy.’ I watched Mattie love her first little boy.
The colt ran in the pasture as if nothing ever went wrong with his welcome into this world. He bounced off his mother and when he ran one direction, she followed as quickly as she could to keep up with the little guy. He wore her out. Most moms know how this is with their little ones. He was fast. He was born to race.
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