was just over a year ago that I posted my frantic story about
our dead foal, born lethal white. This means he was born alive,
could stand and suckle but shortly there after coliced because
of an incomplete digestive tract. If lethal whites are not
euthanized, they die a painful death. In the case of our little
foal, because it had a rectal opening, which meant that the end
of its tract was open, and because it had a little black ear and
small black spot at the base of his tail, the vet on-call for
our vet thought that giving it banamine for colic symptoms might
prove that it just needed time to pass meconuim, the first bowel
clearing after birth. Our little guy lived one day. He got to
meet his Mommy, Puzzle Mare, my husband Brian, his aunt Dazzle,
the little white mule who stood over him while he was born, and
me Christine Amber. We hoped all during the day that he might be
fine, but as the day wore on and the Banamine wore off, he again
showed signs of distress--rolling, rising, laying, rising,
rolling, knelling, nursing, kneeling, rolling, raising, laying,
thrashing. We prayed our vet would get there quickly. I cursed
the on-call vet in the morning that he even gave us the day. I
felt so helpless for this poor defenseless, innocent little
creature who was obviously suffering as we all looked on and
waited. One of my most vivid memories is one moment during the
day, when the little foal was curiously sniffing my husbands
breath as he knelt down to foal-eye level. This was during the
few drug induced hopeful, painless hours of post-partum
delirium. I will never forget this vision, it is as vivid in my
mind as a photograph is a piece of paper. I can see it by
remembering as easily as one can hold a photo between thumb and
index finger. Everyone agreed that giving the baby, his Mommy
Mare and us was the right thing to do, just painful.
was just dark when our regular vet came back on duty and was
able to come. When he saw the foal he said he was sorry, he was
very certain that it was lethal white. He would need my husband
to help hold the little guy while he gave him a shot to
euthanize him and I would need to hold the mare.
a dying, young animal is strong and struggles. The organism
seeks to survive even if it is doomed to perish. The mare did
not want those men near her baby. The vet had me take the mare
about 20 feet away.It was very difficult for me to hold her. I
was sobbing, she was rearing and pawing, and spinning. Aunt
Dazzle the mule, was braying from the other side of the fence,
running up and down the fence line, desperate to come in and
protect her young charge. Then the two men, my husband and the
vet slowly emerged from the dark, walking like big shadows
walking out of the mouth of a cave. The vet said to take the
mare to her baby.
cried and cried. Puzzle mare stood over her baby, Auntie Dazzle
stood by the fence next to Puzzle mare. All was still and dark
and quiet. Puzzle continued to lower her muzzle and sniff her
little baby. We left her like that throughout the night. In the
morning it was the same picture. She stood next to her dead
quite suddenly, Puzzle mare raised her head and whinnied to the
herd standing about 100 feet away next to the fence. They all
whinnied back. She whinnied again, and cantered about half way
to them and stopped. She turned and cantered back to her dead
baby, sniffed him again, and cantered all the way to the herd.
She did this one or two times, and she was done. She never
returned to the little corpse again. We buried the little guy on
the back of our property.
little more than a year later, I wanted to share the happy
ending to this sad and tragic beginning.
morning, 12 sets of legs met me, walking side-by-side, two weeks
before four of the legs where due to arrive. Puzzle mare on the
left, auntie Dazzle mule on the right and little Peanut Puzzle
still wet from birth, sandwiched between her Mother's flank and
Auntie's shoulder. As I was looking for them, they all emerged
around the tall fence, through the gate just like coming from
behind a stage curtain and into the spotlight. The walked lock
step, stride for stride into the open for all to see.
the herd saw them, all the boys began to whinny and call out.
They all ran to the fence to be as close as possible. Puzzle and
Dazzle took their little Peanut away. She was already cantering.
I secluded Mommy Mare, baby and Auntie Dazzle in the large
paddock across from the herd. We called the vet to come and
check everything out.
the day, I watched as the little foal nursed, she found lying
down more awkward than springing to her feet and cantering off.
She could already perform flying lead changes, canter
pirouettes, and spins. The initial gurgling I heard when she
nursed was gone and her breathing sounded clear.
got her formal health pronouncement that evening. She was
stronger than most foals her age, and her IG (Immunity level)
was very good. Her ears were slightly unsymmetrical, but it only
added to her character. Puzzle Mare was very, very anxious when
the vet came and he and Brian touched her new baby. Puzzle was
very hard to hold. She spun, and pawed, pulled and did her best
to keep everyone away from her baby. Auntie Dazzle brayed and
had to be put out of the paddock, the herd whinnied, what a
commotion. Noise and pony anxiety everywhere. When the vet
restrained the little Peanut filly, he held her tail and put one
arm around her neck and chest. Peanut opened her mouth really
wide and then loudly and indignantly squealed like I have never
heard a young foal squeal before. Then the two men stood back in
awe. The vet said to bring the mare to her filly. Peanut's
little tail was flicking, her little feet were stomping, her
little muzzle sniffed our hands, sniffed Puzzle Mare's nose and
bobbed around to the mare's udder. Auntie Dazzle would not be
quiet, now would the herd until they could see the baby, then
all was still and calm. We left them like that throughout the