From the Foaling Barn

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Finally, Breeding Season Is Over

Windy (Whiz Chill Factor) is in foal to Gunner for 2013

Finally, we're finished breeding for the year. It was a tough year. Of course, the worst came in May when we lost two of our mares within five days shortly after they foaled. But even before this catastrophe, we were really struggling with our breedings. We had a lot of early foals--six by the end of Feb., but we just couldn't seem to get the majority of our mares back in foal. By April 1, I had only two confirmed pregnancies, Smart Sugar Pop to Einstein and The Bun Is Dun to Gunner. Two mares were in foal at fourteen days, but had lost the embryos by thirty days. We pulled a grade one embryo from Shiney, but it failed to live in the recipient. Ozzie, who was open, didn't come into heat until late May. We bred Jewel four times to Wimpy with no success and we finally gave up. After Dry Sugar Rose lost her first embryo, we bred her again, got her in foal, but when we checked her at 30 days, there was a vesicle but no embryo.

I felt like a black cloud was hanging over the farm, but, finally, as the spring progressed we finally and slowly began to make progress. The late foaling mares all got in foal easily, and we just kept after the other mares, succeeding in some cases, failing in others.

The final results for the year--we'll have nine foals for 2013, two down from our all-time high this year. We were successful in pulling two embryos from Shiney, one to Spooks Gotta Gun and one to Smart Spook. All the young mares are in foal. My Fertile Myrtle continues to be seventeen year-old Poppy (Smart Sugar Pop) who got in foal to Einstein on the first try on shipped semen. My oldest mare, twenty year-old Marilyn (Dunnits Shadow), is in foal after a false start. But the bad news is that three of my old girls, Dry Sugar Rose, Smart Little Jewel, and Whizard of Ozwald did not get in foal and each one seems to be exhibiting signs of significant breeding problems. I'm particularly worried about Ozzie because this is the second year in a row she has been open.

In September, Dr. Brian will do a work up on all the open mares, taking a uterine biopsy and a small volume lavage, to try to determine what problems we will need to deal with next year. I'll put the open mares under lights in November so that we can begin breeding them in February. Brian says that these older mares with reproductive issues are not necessarily hopeless cases--they just may take longer to get in foal.

But this year's problems tell me it's time to start adding young mares to my band. I'm planning on breeding two of my show girls and pulling embryos next year. And I'll start looking to buy a couple of more young mares.


The Foundered Mare: Breeding Implications

Shiney (in the AirRide boots) gets her first adult companionship since she foundered in February. She's sharing her paddock with Jewel.

 

Our eight year-old mare, Shiney, foundered as a result of treatment for a retained placenta. Besides the founder (laminitis), she suffered damage to her kidneys, which complicated her treatment. To control the pain of laminitis, the usual protocol is to give the mare anti-inflammatories, which has the potential to further damage her kidneys. Although at times during her illness we feared for her life, eventually she began to improve and today she is relatively healthy. After the crisis was over, we were able to evaluate the damage to her feet. X-rays show that there was no rotation of the coffin bone in either foot, but in the left foot the coffin bone had sunk on the inside, causing her varying degrees of pain. Some days she walked pretty well showing pain only when she was turning to the right. But at other times she was quite sore at the walk. Part of the problem was that the part of the hoof with the damaged laminae was growing very slowly compared to the outside of the hoof, so that unless she was trimmed every two weeks, her hoof developed a significant imbalance which in turn was the cause of her pain.

Her progress to health has been slow and halting. Several weeks ago we had a setback when she developed a large abcess under her frog, which caused her extreme pain. She was so sore we were afraid she was foundering once again. Even after the abscess broke open, she still seemed to be in pain. However, x-rays showed that the coffin bone was unaffected. Within a few days, she improved dramatically and is now walking better than ever. But my vet and farrier warn that until the damaged part of the hoof is completely grown out she will be prone to more abscesses.

Which brings me to the biggest decision I had to make about Shiney--should I breed her this year of not. At first my vet was encouraging. By the time Shiney would bear any significant increase in body weight, the hoof should be completely grown out. But as her recovery seemed to sputter, I decided that I didn't want to take a chance with Shiney's health. She is a young mare and has many years of foals ahead of her if she is returned to full health. Also, I did not want to risk investing in an expensive breeding if there was any chance that Shiney might not survive her illness.

Because she is a well-bred mare (Shining Spark X Top N Final X Topsail Cody) with good earnings, and because her first two foals are showing promise, I decided that it would be worth it to pull at least one embryo from her. We decided to wait until she seemed to be stabilized to breed her. We bred her to Smart Spook, and flushed a grade 1 embryo. Unfortunately,the embryo did not survive in the recipient mare. So we tried again, this time to Gunner; no embryo. We went back to Smart Spook, but again had no luck. During this time we were trying to find the best way to alleviate Shiney's footpain--special shoeing, AirRide boots, lillypads, etc.

After three unsuccessful breedings we decided to call a halt, and do two things before we tried it again. We weaned her foal at three months to reduce the strain on Shiney. And we made a greater effort to control Shiney's pain. Our farrier and vet consulted and we came up with a plan of monitor her and trim her more often and to go back to AirRide Boots. We let her go through another cycle and then tried again. I also decided to change studs, to a younger stallion who I know has very good semen. We bred her to Spooks Gotta Gun and got an embryo, which took (we should have a heartbeat on it by next week). Then we went back to our original stud, Smart Spook, bred her again and got another embryo.

I'm satisfied that we made the right decision not to breed Shiney to carry, but, if I were to do this again, I would wait longer to try to breed her, until after we had weaned her foal and her pain was under control. The stress of her pain clearly interfered with her ability to conceive.

Orphan Foals on Milk Replacer

Colin Drinking His Morning Ration of Milk Replacer

This year we had to deal with two orphan foals and another foal whose mother foundered shortly after foaling. In all three cases, we were forced to use foal milk replacer. With the foal (Hermione) whose mother foundered, she was fed milk replacer to supplement her mother's reduced milk production. Hermione only needed supplements for about three weeks,and except for the first day or two, she drank from a bucket. Eventually as her mother's health improved, Hermione was weaned off the bucket and went back on her mother exclusively.

However, with the orphans, Viktor and Colin, they have been drinking milk replacer for two and half months. Fortunately, in both cases, the mother's lived long enough to supply each foal with sufficient colostrum (See my earlier post on low IGg in foals). Both dam's were euthanized at the vet clinic. The staff at the clinic kept the foals overnight in order to train them to the bucket. To feed a foal with a bottle would require super-human effort, or an employee devoted solely to feeding the foals every hour.

The first problem we faced was securing a supply of fresh milk replacer when we needed it. Milk replacer has a shorter shelf life than other feeds, and because it is so rarely needed, most feed stores carry very small amounts of the stuff. Many feed stores carry a generic, multi-species milk replacer, but this is not ideal. Only use milk replacer formulated specifically for horses. Most of the major feed companies make milk replacer. Milk replacer is quite expensive and foals go through a lot of it during a week.

We were lucky, because the Silky Coat company, which makes milk replacer for many species, is about 25 miles from us in Lakeville, MN. Our feed rep, Travis Lemke of Assurance Feed, set us up with Silky Coat. When we needed milk replacer, Travis would pick up a week's supply that had been made freshly that day and bring it out to us. After several weeks, we also began to offer the foals milk pellets made by Silky Coat.

Once we secured a steady supply,  the hardwork fell to us. During the first six weeks or their lives, the foals were fed on a four hour schedule, 6 AM, 10 AM, 2 PM, 6PM, 10 PM and 2 AM. My husband took the 10 PM and the 2 AM feedings, and I did all the other ones. It's pretty hard to have much of a social life, or even go out to dinner with this kind of schedule. We spread four gallons of formula over these six feedings. We thought it important to hang the bucket at approximately the same height as a mother's udder, rather than setting the bucket on the ground.

After six weeks, we began slowly to wean the foals off the formula, reducing the amount of formula by two quarts each week with fewer feedings. We first went to four feedings a day, and now we feed three times in twenty-four hours. However, as we reduced feedings, we discovered a new problem. The foals began to gulp down a gallon of milk in a matter of minutes, so we had to come up with ways to parcel out the milk so that the foals would eat more slowly. Drinking too much at one time, can cause foals to have loose stools, which in Viktor's case was exactly what happened. At Travis's suggestion, we began to freeze portions of the formula, so that it took the foals longer to get through a gallon. This worked well, and Viktor's diarhea disappeared. As we decreased the milk replacer, we increased the amount of milk pellets and began offering them the same grain and supplement the other foals eat. They are also now eating hay and pasture during turnout.

The foals will be on milk replacer for about three more weeks. Once they are weaned from the milk replacer, we will continue to add milk pellets to their grain rations for another month or so. At that time we will wean them completely and they will be turned out with the last three of our other foals to be weaned.

And my husband and I will let out  big sighs of relief.

Update: Foal Heat Breeding

We have two young mares (both five year-olds), who foaled late in the breeding season. Late foaling leaves you with only one or two attempts at breeding your mare. We really wanted to try to move up both our mares, Chicky and Icey, so we wouldn't be facing the same problem next year. Both mares had uneventful pregnancies and deliveries, and as far as we could tell by ultrasound neither had any post foaling problems. So we decided to give it a try.

The odds of a successful foal heat breeding are slim if the mare ovulates before nine days post foaling. However, the longer the mare goes beyond nine days without ovulating the better the chances of achieving a pregnancy. When we checked Chicky at day ten, she already had a CL, so that was that. But when we checked Icey at day ten, she was just coming into heat with multiple medium follicles on both ovaries. The next day she had a 35 on one ovary and a 34 on the other, so we called the breeder and ordered a FedEx delivery for the next day. We also gave Icey a shot of historelin to induce ovulation. The next morning when we checked her before breeding we found that she had already ovulated the 35, and we also found that we had a meager amount of semen to work with. Therefore, Dr. Brian thought we would be wise to do a deep horn insemination. We took a chance that the ovulation was recent (there was no CL yet) and inseminated in that horn. Brian thought there was a good chance that Icey would not ovulate the other follicle.

Fourteen days later we checked Icey for pregnancy and found that she had, indeed, ovulated the second follicle and she was infoal with twins. Fortunately they were located in both horns so Brian was able to pinch the smaller one. He gave Icey a shot of Banamine to forestall any inflamation in her uterus as a result of the remains of the now pinched twin. Pinching a twin can cause the mare to lose the other embryo in about 20% of the cases when the embryos are in both horns.

Because Icey delivered her foal six days early and we were successful with our foal heat breeding, we moved her up 25 days. So instead of a May or June foal next year, she'll have her foal in late April.

Icey and her 2012 filly Rita.  Icey is in foal for 2013 to Smart Spook.


Orphan Foals at Two Months

Colin at two months

Right after our two foals were orphaned within a week of each other, we were inundated with advice and offers of help from well-meaning folk. Some of the advice was helpful, but a great deal of it was discouraging and, frankly, incorrect. We were treated to so many nightmare stories of foals' physical developmental problems. And, even worse, many people assured us our foals would not know how to act like horses or would be spoiled by an excess of attention from humans. Some really tactless souls told us the foals were more or less doomed.

Our foals are now two months old, and I'm happy to report none of the depressing prognostications have come true. We did not find a local nurse mare and rejected the rent-a-nurse-mare organizations on ethical grounds. Instead, we worked with our great feed rep, Travis Lemke of Assurance Feed, who linked us up with a local company, Silky Coat, who specializes in making milk replacer for many different breeds. Every week, Travis would bring us fresh bags of milk replacer and milk pellets right from Silky Coat. That meant that we were always feeding the foals fresh milk. Both foals have done very well on the replacer, although Viktor had loose stools for the first six weeks, which is not an unusual problem for foals on milk replacer. At six weeks we began to wean them off of the replacer and on to the milk pellets. Since then, Viktor's stools have become more solid. At two months both foals are plump and well-muscled. Our vet has routinely drawn blood to check on the foal's protein levels, and has monitored their growth.

Because we have had to feed the foals frequently (every four hours for the first six weeks), it has not been practical to put them outside with other horses. We do get them outside together, several times a day for two to three hours at a time. If there is any upside to having two orphan foals, it is that they are company for one another, and their horse instincts kicked in right away when we put them together. To see them playing their little colt games, you would never think they were any different than any other foals. They spend their nights in large, open-grill stalls across the aisle from one another. Tomorrow, we plan to put them out in a small pasture with our twenty-three year old mare, Pappita Sunrise, for most of the day since we are now on an eight hour feeding schedule.

Viktor at two months

During this whole process, we have been mindful of the need to treat Viktor and Colin as horses, not pets. We do not coddle them, and we correct aggressive behavior immediately and firmly, just as their own mothers would have. The only time we handle them is when we take them in and out of their stalls. They are both halter broke and lead fairly well. There are other horse in the barn with them, and when they are outside they are in a pasture adjacent to other pastures holding mares and foals.

At three months, we plan to wean Viktor and Colin from their milk replacer, and by then they should be able to be in pasture twenty-four hours a day, At that point we will introduce them to other foals.


Erhlichiosis: Know the Symptoms

Two weeks ago, my oldest broodmare, Pappita Sunrise, refused her evening grain ration. Since, refusal to eat (anorexia) is often a sign of fever, I took Pappita's temperature, and sure enough, she had a fever of 104.5. Normally, I would have been alarmed, but because my vet and I had recently talked about the high number of ehrlichiosis cases he had treated this year, I was pretty sure this was Pappita's problem. Also, my barn manager, Ginny, has a Belgian who had just been treated for ehrlichiosis earlier in the year, so I knew the symptoms. Ehrlichiosis, usually presents with a sudden very high fever. Affected horses may also exhibit signs of partial anorexia, depression, reluctance to move, and stocking up. Rarely, a horse may have more serious complications, such as exacerbation of existing injuries and heart problems.

Ehrlchiosis, which has recently been renamed Anaplasma phagocytophila, is a tickborne disease. It is infectious but not contagious, and it is usually seasonal, occurring during the spring, early summer, and fall in Minnesota. However, my vet (Dr. Brian Dahms) recently told me that the clinic had treated a number of cases over the winter. Because one of the hosts of the disease is rodents, warm winter barns can still harbor the ticks that cause ehrlichiosis--in the midwest, the deer tick is the culprit.

Fortunately, ehrlichiosis is easily treated. Because Pappita's symptoms were so suggestive of the disease, our vet immediately began treating her with injections of oxytetracycline over the next five days. He also drew blood to make sure she did, indeed, have ehrlichiosis. The bloodwork verified the diagnosis. Pappita improved almost immediately after the first injections of oxytet. She regained her appetite and was able to rejoin her pasture mates. The good news is that she will have immunity to the disease for approximatly two years.

Orphan Tails: A Setback

Viktor and Colin Two Weeks After Their Illness

 

Everything seemed to be progressing with our two orphan foal: both were active and bright and drinking their milk supplement well. But when Colin was three weeks old, one morning I went to make up their morning milk replacer only to find that Colin hadn't drunk any of his overnight ration. When I offered him a fresh bucket, he put his head down to smell it, then walked away. It's common for foals on milk replacement to have loose stools, but now Colin was spewing watery diarhea. For the next six hours I monitored him to see if he was eating. He drank a very small amount and ate a little hay, so I waited to call the vet thinking perhaps Colin was improving. But by late in the afternoon, Colin had only drunk two quarts in 24 hours (a normal foal will drink approximately 4 gallons a day.) So I called the our vet, Brian. He thought I should bring him into the clinic as there was a pretty strong possibility Colin would need fluids and possibly tubing.

So once again we made the late night run to the clinic to meet the vet on call. Ava took his temp (normal) and drew blood. We waited for the initial results which were not overly alarming, but suggested that Colin was becoming dehydrated. When we left, Ava and an aide were preparing to give him a bag of fluids. The next morning Ava reported that Colin's condition was unchanged but she was not unduly worried and thought he would be fine with a few days of supportive care (fluids, tubing of milk, and treatments to firm up the diarhea).

At home I began to Google Colin's symptoms and found that they fit the description of Rotavirus, a common, highly contagious diarhea, which affects only foals under 5 or 6 months of age. Left untreated, severe cases have a fairly high mortality rate. Treated, almost all foals survive. The symptons are watery diarhea, anorexia, and.lethargy. When I ran my findings by Brian and Ava, they thought it could be possible, but almost all diarheas have those exact symptoms, and you treat all serious diarheas the same way.They also wondered in he could be reacting to the milk replacement.

However, the next morning the other orphan foal, Viktor,came down with the same symptoms and ended up at the clinic in the stall beside Colin. Now we were all thinking Rotavirus. So we sent a stool sample in to be tested. Neither of the orphans was getting worse, but they weren't improving either. However, most Rotavirus cases take 4 to 7 days to resolve. So we just had to wait.

The next day, Colin began to improve, drinking some milk on his own. However, we had a new alarming develpment. Our newest foal, Rita,came down with Rotavirus symptoms. Again, we rushed her to the clinic. With Rita now sick, we could reject the idea that the diarhea was specific to something in the orphan's environment. Fortunately, with only minor treatment, Rita began to recover quickly and we were able to bring her and Colin home the next day. Viktor would have to stay several more days before he was stable enough to go home.

All are home now and doing well. The results of the stool sample identified the source of the illness at Rotavirus. Since then I've done more reading about the disease. It's possible that the orphans were so much sicker than Rita, because of the conditions surrounding their births they were more stressed than she was and so developed more serious symptoms. One article I read suggested that as many as 70 percent of foals will have some diarhea in their early months, but not all who contract Rotavirus will develop life-threatening symptoms.




Raising Orphan Foals

Colin and Viktor

After the death of our two mares in less than a week, we were left with the difficult task of raising two beautiful orphans, Colin (Jerry Lees Surprise X Jodies Jac Tari) and Viktor (Colonels Smoking Gun X BH Song and Dance). Colin lost his mother at three days, and Viktor lost his at less than 24 hours. Fortunately, both foals nursed long enough to get adequate levels of passive antibodies through their dams' colostrum.

But once we got them home we were left with many decisions about the best way to proceed. We certainly didn't have a shortage of advice. Many people urged us to use nurse mares, but that was easier said than done. There's no doubt that what is best for a foal is receiving nutrition from its dam or another lactating mare. That means we needed to find a mare that has recently lost its foal. We were given many leads, but most of these mares were too far away to make it practical. Or if I got a tip about a local mare, invariably when I called the mare owners they were reluctant to turn their mares over to me, and I completely understand their feelings.

I was also given the names of several people who provide nurse mares on demand. However, once I read about these services, I had ethical qualms about what happens to the foals of these mares. Also, many of these mares are draft horses, and my vet warned me that draft mares provide too much milk for a little quarter or arab foal, with the result that the foals grow too fast and may have issues with bone development. Similarly, I was contacted by people who told me how I could cause any mare who had foaled within the last year to begin lactating. Actually, sometimes if a mare will accept a foal, she will begin to lactate on her own. However, in these cases, the quality and richness of the milk usually does not match the needs of a growing foal.

While I was considering all these factors, I contacted Travis Lempke, who is my Assurance feed rep. He was invaluable in advising me and locating a good source of milk replacement. He had dealt with an orphan foal two years before, so he new from experience what we were facing.
Eventually, I decided to forget the idea of nurse mares and use milk replacement exclusively.

This meant that we would be slave to a rigid feeding schedule for the next three months. Fortunately the vets at Stillwater Equine had trained both foals to the bucket before we brought them home, so I didn't have to worry about hourly bottle feeding. Instead, we started with a four hour feeding schedule. We made three quarts of formula every four hours, poured it into two gallon buckets and hung them in each foal's stall. Within a week or two the foals were drinking four gallons of milk a day. After a month, we began to feed the foals a gallon of milk replacer every six hours, which gave us quite a bit more freedom.

Both foals are now healthy and growing rapidly. But how to feed them has been only one of the many factors we are dealing with. The most difficult part of feeding foals with milk replacement formula is how to socialize them as horses. I'll take this issue up in future posts.


In Memory of BH Song and Dance

Four days after Jodie's death, her stablemate, BH Song And Dance gave birth to a beautiful Gunner colt, her sixteenth foal, at 10:15 PM. The labor was quick and the delivery easy. BH rested for a few minutes, then stood, dropping her placenta easily. Like an old pro, she coaxed her foal to stand and had him nursing vigorously within an hour. She looked wonderful and so did the foal. So after watching to make sure the colt was nursing consistently, around one we went back to the house and went to bed. At five that morning I got up and as I walked toward the kitchen, I glanced at the TV screen which was tuned to our foaling channel. The foal was asleep and all looked peaceful, until I saw BH's leg. She was down and something was obviously wrong. Still in my pajamas I raced down to the barn and found BH, standing now, but sopping wet, and trembling. I grabbed some Banamine, gave it to her, then began walking her, with foal following up and down the aisle of the barn, while I called the vet on call. Dr. Megan said she'd. be there as soon as possible. I also called our regular vet, Brian, who was due at the barn at seven to ultrasound another mare. When Megan arrived, she checked BH's vital signs, which were normal except for an elevated heartbeat. But when she palpated BH, she found a sizeable mass in her abdomen. Brian arrived and he, too, palpated BH, but was unable to determine the cause of the mass. He said it was impossible to know what the cause of her distress was without exploratory surgery. I thought a 23 year-old mare who had just given birth, and who had been in distress for an unknown amount of time, was a poor candidate for surgery. When I rejected surgery, Brian suggested we move her to the clinic for observation and supportive care. He said occasionally, after foaling internal organs can get displaced and with time and rest they can right themselves.

So once again, we made a sad pilgrimage to the vet clinic, to leave a beloved mare and foal in the hands of the vets. I was not hopeful, and within in hours BH began to decline precipitously. Finally, Brian called and said that she had crashed, her heartrate was skyrocketing. I wanted to come down to be with her, but he said there wasn't time, and they were worried about her falling on the foal. So, I said, yes, and I never saw my little mare again, to my great regret.

BH was a wonder--a small, little mare with great heart and grit. Her sire was Be Aech Enterprise and her dam was Melody Jac. Scott McCutcheon bought her from the late, great horseman Bill Horn when she was three. He claims she was so high-strung, he couldn't catch her in her stall til she was five. Nevertheless, Scott and BH had great success together, culminating in winning the Open Championship at the NRHA Derby. When BH retired from the showring, she was just as successful as a broodmare. Of her sixteen foals, all but one of perfomance age were money earners. Her offspring's earnings are over $110,000 and still counting. Her foals have gone on to be finalists at the NRHA Futurity, Derby and the NRBC.
I'm fortunate to still own four of her foals, a four year-old stallion by Gunner, a three year-old mare by Einstein, and yearling and weanling colts by Gunner.

At 23, BH looked her age. She was small, and fine-boned, and when she was pregnant, her belly was enormous. But she held her own in the pasture full of much bigger and mobile mares, and she was a tough disciplinarian with her foals, keeping close watch on them. In one sense, though I regret the pain she suffered in her last hours, her death was in keeping with her life. She died giving birth, and until the very end she nursed and watched over her foal.


Losing Jodie

This is a very hard post to write. Tuesday, May 9th, we had to euthanize our beautiful palomino mare, Jodies Jac Tari. I had written previously about several problems we had had with Jodie prior to her foaling. She leaked milk for several weeks, so I layed in a supply of mare colostrum to give the foal as soon as it was born. Also, Jodie had experienced periods of bleeding from a vaginal varicose vein. I had her on sulfa for the ten days prior to foaling to guard against infection that could affect the foal. I thought I was prepared for all eventuallities. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could have changed what happened.

Jodie went into labor late Sunday night. We were expecting it because her calcium milk level had reach 250 pts per ml. We were watching her on our foal cam, and as soon as we knew she was in labor, we went down to the barn. When we arrived the sack was out and we could see one hoof. However, for the next fifteen minutes, though she pushed mightily, we saw no more progress. I went in the stall to check the sack, and realized that the foot we were seeing was pointing upward not downward. I called the on-call vet, Ava, immediately and she contacted my regular vet, Brian. Both of them were coming but would not arrive for thirty minutes. I asked Ava if there was anything I could do. She said, no, because we did not want to take any chance of the sack rupturing. However, within a short time, the sack ruptured on its own and I called Ava once again. And she told me to put gloves on and see if I could feel the other foot or the nose. When I went into the stall, I realize something was very wrong--Jodies rectum had prolapsed and part of her colon was coming out. I called Ava again quickly and she told me to push the colon back in and to hold it in, until she got there. Brian arrived shortly thereafter and examined Jodie. He tried to pull the foal, but when he pulled, Jodie would push and the colon would pop out again. Once Ava arrived and Brian conferred with another vet at Stillwater, he decided we had to get Jodie to the clinic to try to sedate her so the foal could be pulled out without the risk of the colon being further damaged. He warned me that I might have to choose between saving Jodie or the foal. But he also warned me that there was little chance of Jodie surviving, and he wasn't sure the foal could be pulled out alive.

I was't sure Jodie could make the twenty minute trip to the clinic. But Brian said it was our only chance. He sutured her rectum closed so that she wouldn't push the colon out again in transit, my husband hooked up the trailer, and we loaded Jodie. Ava had already left to get the operating room ready. Brian followed the trailer and I went back to the house to get my husband's wallet and my purse and then I headed toward the clinic. It was 12:30 Monday morning by now, and as I drove to clinic, I was sure I would find that both Jodie and the foal had died.

When I pulled into the clinic parking lot, it was 1 AM, and the bay door was open and all the lights were on. I could see into the operating room, where a foal was sprawled on the floor, and three vets stood over him. I thought the foal was dead, but then Brian nudged him with his foot and the foal struggle up onto his sternum. Jodie was standing quietly. We carried the foal to one of the clinic stalls and led Jodie in behind him. He was standing in a matter of minutes and trying to nurse. The vets gave Jodie Banamine and antibiotics. They thought the foal was going to be fine, but warned me that Jodie's prognosis was poor.

When I got home at two that night, I went to the computer and Googled "rectal prolapse in mares." What I found was not reassuring. There are four levels of rectal prolapses in horses, depending on how much of the colon is extruded. Horses usually survive Levels 1 and 2. But Levels 3 nd 4 are almost always ultimately fatal. Dystopias are one of the main risk factors for rectal prolapse.

The next morning, I was at the clinic early to check on Jodie and her foal, a buckskin colt by Jerry Lees Surprise. They looked wonderful. All Jodie's vital signs were good, but I knew that there were many risks ahead. The first problem showed up later that day. Jodie was not passing manure, which meant that her colon was not able to push feces through. The danger was that the longer she went without passing manure, the greater the danger of impaction.
The next morning, Jodie was still doing reasonably well, but her heart rate was slightly elevated and there was still no manure. By the afternoon, when I came back to see her again, she was refusing food, and she was obviously depressed. All my hopes for a miracle evaporated. I knew she was not going to make it.

Early Wednesday morning, Brian called me and before he said anything, I knew it was bad news. Jodie had an extremely high heart rate, her red blood count was going down, and she had a temperature of 104. She was now septic and had no chance to survive. It was time to put her down. I rushed to the clinic so I could be with her when she was euthanized. When I arrived the foal was nursing. I scratched Jodie'sr withers and offered her one of her favorite treats. When we took her away from her foal to walk her back to the arena where Brian would euthanize her, she called to her foal during the entire walk.

Jodie was a beautiful mare. I bought her when she was ten and she had five gorgeous foals, with her pretty head and big, soft eyes. She was only seventeen when she died. I am so thankful that her foal survives.





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