Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Life and Death

This is a tremendously sad and yet joyful day.

This morning at 12:30 am, I checked on Dark Corsage....no baby.

At 2:14, I checked again, and a beautiful colt was on the ground, still wet. A bay with a tiny star and a white off hind sock, he whinnied his way into the world and got up less than 15 minutes after I got there.

Dark Corsage, however, was down--which was odd, I thought. She immediately got up again, licked her baby, and then went down, almost on top of him. Where her placenta should have been was a huge, white/red round thing--her uterus, I found out later, had prolapsed, and she had torn an artery. She whinnied for her baby as she went down, and as he wobbled to his feet, I thought I'd better get him away from her. Good move-because soon she tried to stand again, this time unsuccessfully, and she literally flopped down where the baby had been laying.

I had called the vet as soon as Dark Corsage stood up the first time, but he wasn't there yet. Weak from internal bleeding, she whinnied desperately for her foal, and he whinnied in return, but neither one could get to the other.

Dark Corsage was obviously in pain, and getting weaker by the minute. She would try desperately to get up (always unsuccessfully) until all she could do was to hit her head on the ground. She tried to roll, but that, too, was too difficult a task, leaving her thrashing around (again, good thing the baby wasn't close). Once the vet arrived, he gave her something for pain, and she was able to relax, and breathe her last. It was heartbreaking; the colt was still whinnying, and the two mares in the next pasture were, too...but the one who mattered couldn't answer.

Knowing that the baby's chances of survival weren't going to amount to much if he didn't get some colostrum, we milked the recently deceased mare for the precious fluid. Using a syringe, we were able to get almost all of it down him--a messy, sticky process.

We took the baby to the barn in the pasture next door--quite a walk for one not quite even two hours old. There, we gave him the rest of the colostrum, and I stayed with him while he explored his new world.

Alas, I think he's bonded with me; he follows me, calls for me when I come every two hours for a feeding (it's the foal lac, not me). Chris' former broodmare, Molly, is vitally interested in the foal, and lets him come up to her--and she's even expressing some kind of milk! We've been reading about barren mares who are able to lactate and serve as nurse mares, so we're going to see if we can't get her to lactate by giving her domperidone. If so, perhaps the young man will actually get to learn how to be a horse, rather than a person.

He is beautiful, strong, eager and joyful. Losing Dark Corsage was a horrible blow, and I cry whenever I think of her--but her baby alive and life-giving

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