Yes, we now have something else to watch and another reason for sleeping in Val’s barn in a tent. hah!
Some of you have asked if Val and I were lucky enough to able to witness the birth. And the answer is a resounding YES! We both watched, eyes wide open, awestruck of every exciting, nail-biting, terrifying, thrilling, joy-filled, miraculous moment.
This is a very long post. It’s been a crazy busy last three days. So grab some refreshments before reading this post. I hope you enjoy it.
This entire 12 month experience has been such a whirlwind of excitement filled with worrying, waiting, sleepless nights and planning. I was wondering why this has been so emotional for me, too and Val reminded me that I’ve been along for this ride since the day we both got together to train Annie to trailer load, in preparation for trips to the vet for her Artificial Insemination. I was even there when this foal was conceived. And I feel honored, blessed and grateful that my friend, Val, invited me to travel this journey along with her.
Check out Fantastyk Voyage for more information and photos of her foal. Val has done an amazing job acting as midwife for Annie and Grandma for her little fillie. Mare and foal are doing well. Annie is an attentive, protective and loving mare. And the filly is a very spunky, healthy, sweet foal.
WARNING: This next section is going to share photos and the story of Annie’s labor and the foal’s birth. Some folks enjoy knowing all the details and seeing photos that involve blood and body fluids if it’s a part of life and educational. Some folks just don’t have the stomach for it. For those of the latter, you’ll want to just stop reading here. For the former, read on.
Val and I both had a feeling that Annie would go into labor sometime Saturday night and into Sunday morning. We had celebrated her gelding, Scout’s, 13th birthday that day and thought it would be a great if the foal and Scout shared the same birthday.
Also, I had sat with Annie almost the entire day on Saturday, just reading and doting on her and Val’s other two horses. I told Val that Annie seemed to be more restless and her teats were dripping milk most of the day.
By that evening her teats had waxed over.
That night, in the tent, Val suggested we take turns keeping watch and I took the first watch while Val slept. Val had opened up her extra stall, beside Annie’s stall and we set up folding chairs and a lantern. I took a book with me to read, but not more than 45 minutes passed before I felt that Annie’s behavior had changed significantly and that the birth was imminent. She was hunching up her back, as if she was contracting, lifting up each of her hips as if to adjust them for the foal’s body during birth, while placing just her toes on the ground intermittantly.
She paced, peed and pooped (sometimes without anything coming out or just a tiny amount), and she stamped her feet. Several times she looked as if she was going down as her knees buckled. At first I thought she was just tired and was going to lay down, but she looked very uncomfortable, not really tired. She also kept her rear end toward the barn and her head facing out towards the pasture.
So, I called to Val about 11:30pm and she came out to the stall to join me. Also about the same time, one of my twinlings walked over from our house to camp out with us, and between the extra noise and activity from my son, and Val and I, as well as the light from the lantern, Annie seemed to stall in her labor process.
After the kids were finally asleep and quiet, Val and I noticed a few shadows scurrying across the ground near our feet, so we started aiming her camera at them and realized the shadows were from mice, which was quite entertaining. About the same time I was feeling relieved that my folding chair came with a footrest as the prospect of mice scurrying across my feet gave me the willies.
We had turned down the lantern to ‘night-light mode’ and soon after her other two horses, Scout and Nadia laid down to sleep not more than a few feet away from us.
And when we saw Scout lay down, I encouraged Val to go over and sit beside him.
The half moon had just risen, peeking out from the wispy clouds and there were sparkling stars filling the ebony sky. It was rather magical. And at just about the time Val said, “Even if Annie doesn’t have this baby tonight, all of these special moments were worth sitting out here in the cold together”, Annie began acting restless again and showing the same behavior I had witnessed earlier. She also kept her tail up and preferred to be facing away from Val and I and the other horses.
She would also turn around and look at us as if to say, “Could I have a little privacy please?” So I turned the lantern off and we relied on the moonlight to keep an eye on things. And I use that term ‘keep an eye’ literally, because Val and I decided to pretend we were asleep, so that Annie would feel comfortable. We even feigned our sleeping act with heavy, deep breathing while we rested in our folding chairs a few feet away from Annie.
Not long after, Annie finally did lay down rather uncomfortably, but only for a few minutes.
Soon after standing back up again, we thought she was urinating, but the stream turned into a powerful gush. And when she experienced another contraction the amniotic fluid was pushed out with even more force.
Almost immediately, she went down on her side, positioning her rear end toward the safety of the barn, and giving Val and I a clear view, too. Within seconds, we saw the amniotic sack bulging out, along with more amniotic fluid and a final clearing of her bowels.
Quickly followed by, what we were hoping, was a set of tiny hooves.
There was quite a bit of grunting, while rocking and pushing, from Annie as Val and I nervously watched and quietly encouraged Annie to push that baby out.
Finally the head poked it’s way out.
And after one gargantuan push from Annie, the entire foal came sliding out.
After a few tense moments where we could hear the foal grunting and struggling to break free of it’s sack, we decided Val should remove it so the foal could breathe. If anyone was wondering, Val said the amniotic sac reminded her of a latex glove, and required a bit of strength to tear.
What a relief to finally have it off, though.
And at 3:40 am, June 14th, Kaheema Fantastyka, a beautiful healthy filly was born!
During the birth, Val and I weren’t the only one keeping an eye on things.
Scout and Nadia.
Even my mare, Baby Doll observed the birth, from over the fence.
All three of them nickered and whinnied, as if encouraging Annie during the labor and birth. And when the foal finally made it’s first little whinny, all of four of them neighed and whinnied, as if in celebration and excitement. My kids were in awe. And I think Val and I were just grinning from ear-to-ear!
The moment that Annie got a good look at her foal for the first time was very heartwarming.
And baby seemed just as interested in seeing her Mama for the first time, too.
It was amazing to watch Annie’s curious gaze as she watched her foal begin to move and try to stand.
Annie sniffed her foal from head to hoof, memorizing it’s scent and bonding with her baby.
We were all so happy when the foal stood up for the first time!
Val dried off her foal really well, while Annie kept a close watch.
Isn’t she beautiful? Check out her Arabian Jibba.(the sloped area above her eyes)
Val was wondering if maybe the breeder sent the wrong semen……this foal looks like a line-back dun.
This filly even has the zebra-like striping that is common to duns, on her legs. Isn’t that odd? Will she keep this pattern and stay this color, or will she grey out?
Everything was going well with mama and baby. Annie was bonding with her foal, the filly was nursing with a little direction from Val and I. She was walking and jumping around, and had even passed the meconium and had it’s first bowel movement all on it’s own. But we realized, as the the first rays of sun lit the sky, that Annie still hadn’t passed her placenta and afterbirth. Val tied up the cord to keep it from dragging on the ground, fed Annie some warm bran and oat mash, and then called the vet.
Mare and foal were otherwise doing really well as night became day.
After I went home to get a few hours of sleep, the vet arrived to give Annie an Oxytocin injection and flush out her uterus. Val gave Annie another dose of Oxytocin and then delicately removed Annie’s placenta by pulling during Annie’s induced contractions. She saved the placenta for the vet to look at, and I was fascinated to see the placenta, too with all of it’s veins and tissue that transferred blood, oxygen and nourishment to grow a foal for 11 months. Amazing!
A little while later, my kids came back over to visit Annie’s foal. They were so excited but gentle with her. Annie was being a good Mama, keeping watch.
This little filly has bursts of activity and made us laugh with her bucking, rearing and running around in circles.
But that doesn’t last long before she gets tired and sleeps.
Then she wakes up and thinks, “Hmmmm, I’m hungry. Where’s Mama?” (Val made her this cozy fleece blanket because Sunday was cloudy, rainy and chilly.)
For more about this adorable foal and to congratulate the proud ‘grandma’, go visit Fantastyk Voyage.
From the Tower of,