Diego, Monster, and Hocks

DiegoI had a rather stressful week worrying about horses.

At the last ride Diego wasn’t right and while out on the second loop I turned around and walked him back to camp. He was lame behind when I trotted him out, and the vet found a hard knot in the muscle of his left thigh.  I thought that he’d probably pulled a muscle in there somewhere (I was thinking groin, which can take quite a while to heal fully) and didn’t worry more than normal for a day or two. But then started obsessing because he’d had that weird dogtracking issue at the previous ride (which was attributed to a small but nasty cut on the hock).  He looked sound in the pasture, but finally I decided to get the vet in just in case there was something more that I was missing.

In the meantime, I was also worrying about Monster. When I brought him home from the track he was very uncharacteristically thin. He’s always been on the fat and lazy side, so I was rather shocked to see his ribs (never having seen evidence of their existence since the day he was born….).  Other niggling things started to bother me about him too. He clicks, pops, snaps when he walks. It all comes from his hind end. At first I thought he was forging (hitting a hind toe against the bottom of a front hoof while walking). But I had Ana lead him around and tried to locate the source of the click. It seemed to be coming from either his stifles or his hocks.  Definitely no lower than that.  He seemed uncomfortable and awkward in his hind end.  His hind toes started wearing off at the front.  He stood with his hind end under himself and would alternate resting hind feet a bit more often than you would expect a relaxed horse to do.  The scariest thing was that he didn’t seem to have much appetite.  He ate, but slowly. He didn’t always finish meals. Monster has always been an enormous eater with vast enthusiasm for food. He’s been fat most of his life, even while in training at the track.  Warning bells were going off all over the place.

So I called the vet to come and look at both Monster and Diego on Friday. Also Dressy who had a swollen leg.  I cleaned her leg and found a little scab which I pulled off. Then scrubbed it with Prepodyne (tamed iodine) scrub.  It oozed a bit and dried up. So by the time the vet got there and had a look, her leg was much better. He wasn’t too worried about her.

When he looked at Monster’s hocks, he thought he could see some unusual thickness in the joint towards the lower section. He had me trot out both Monster and Diego and did flexion tests on both of them. In a flex test, the vet picks up a hind foot, flexes the hock tightly and holds it for a minute. Then the horse is trotted out as soon as he drops the foot.

Monster was somewhat lame for the first few steps, but it was moderate. He did step right around and across with every step of the left hind at a trot. It was quite odd looking.  There were no neurological symptoms apparent. I had thought that maybe it was a stifle problem, but the vet was pretty sure he was looking at a hock issue, and suggested x-rays.

Then Diego. Ana trotted him for me, so that I could watch. And I was floored. He was really lame. Not just for a few strides. But lame all the way down and back. And he was nearly as lame on the other hind after flexing it too. The vet looked really concerned.  I have never had a horse flex that lame, and I didn’t know what to think.  The vet suggested x-rays for him too.

I had to leave shortly after the vet visit to go to an endurance clinic for the weekend. The clinic was very good (really VERY good). But I was a complete mess and wasn’t focused on any of it. I was way too obsessed about Diego and the flex tests.  I had myself totally convinced that I’d never be able to ride him again.  I love riding him, and I’ve worked hard and brought him along really carefully to overcome his anxiety issues. It’s a lot of emotional investment.  I should really have just stayed home and done some reading on flex tests and hock problems – I’d have been less worried if I’d known more.

So I booked the x-ray session for Wednesday of this week.  Because I was completely paranoid after a weekend obsessing about hocks, I had the vet do a quick check of McCool to see if he looks like he is in good order to go to work.  He had a look at his teeth and confirmed that McCool is no more than 8-9 years old.  He likes his conformation (I knew that already, since he commented very favorably on McCool the last time he was here).  He checked all his joints, and had me trot him out. In the end he said (at 5pm after a long day) “Soundest horse I’ve seen all day”.  It surprised me just how relieved I was to hear that.

Monster was next, and he was the most amazingly angelic horse through the session. The vet and his assistant crawled around under him with the x-ray plates and the camera thingy with lots of cords snaking around his feet. Monster just rested his big head against my shoulder and napped. Once in a while he chewed thoughtfully on the end of the lead rope. He was not sedated. Just really couldn’t care less what the humans were doing.  He didn’t move his feet at all. Didn’t even flick his tail at them.

Diego was not nearly so good of course. He wasn’t bad. Just moved his foot at a few inconvenient moments and shifted when he wasn’t supposed to. It would be hard for any horse to live up to Monster’s absolutely stellar behaviour anyway.

The x-ray results were completely opposite to what I expected. Diego’s were clean. At an estimated 17 years old, you’d expect to see a bit of wear and tear. But really… no.  The vet gave him a shot of Polyglycan (like Adequan) anyway, just to be sure. I still think he may have a bit of a groin pull which will take time (and maybe that would explain the rather extreme flex test results). But the vet thinks he’s fundamentally sound. He told me to give him a few days off and then start back slowly with lots of walking.

Monster’s results were not nearly so happy, and kind of startling in a five year old horse that never actually raced. He has spavin in both hocks. That’s a degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis). It’s in the lower two joints, which is at least a little bit positive for his prognosis. The lower joints do not really move like the upper joints do.  They are starting to fuse, and if they fuse completely and solidly, then he is likely going to become sound again.  It may take a tiny bit of the spring out of his hocks, but he should be quite capable of most activity… just not racing or maybe high-level jumping.

The vet is predicting that it might take anywhere from six months to several years for them to fuse completely. Or they might not fuse at all. If they do not fuse, he will not be sound. There are some more aggressive methods of getting them to fuse which could possibly be tried as well.  So Monster’s future is very uncertain at the moment.

His appetite has returned for the most part, and he’s started putting some weight on. The dapples are even coming back.

Monster is 16.2hh. Venice is - little. Haven't put a measuring stick on her yet. But she's teeny!
Monster is 16.2hh. Venice is – little. Haven’t put a measuring stick on her yet. But she’s teeny!

Linda, who bred and owned him, is going to take him back to the farm and keep him there through his rehab. She doesn’t want me to have to pay for everything without knowing if he’ll ever be sound and comfortable. He may come back to me at the end of it.  But for now, he may as well be there where there is lots of flat pasture for him (my hills are steep), and funds for NSAIDS and x-rays, and whatever else he needs.

Monster is a big, classy looking horse. 16.2hh. Big boned and correct with a long, easy stride. Horse people are always very impressed when he strolls by. The vet said that if he came sound, he knew of a place that would love to have him.  When Linda spoke to the vet office today, the receptionist also mentioned that she might like to take him. At the track, many people offered to take him when he was finished racing. Of course, I spoke up for him the day he was born, so I always had first dibs. Linda says that she’s never owned a horse that so many people wanted.

His name is Charming Devil. Apparently he really is 🙂

 

Helen’s Surgery

 

 

twofillies
Helen (the chestnut) and her friend, Zara.

So… Helen, the beautiful chestnut yearling filly out of Loula, has developed a very nasty club foot. The vet did surgery on her today to cut the inferior check ligament.  This is meant to release some of the tension at the back of her lower leg and allow the heel to drop into a more normal position.

Helen was really quite well behaved both before and after the surgery.  She was pretty interested in the x-ray machine.  We brought Wise Affair (Weezy) in to keep her company at first. But that bad old horse had about ten minutes of patience in her and then she started screaming bloody murder… “I am TRAPPED in here! I must go out!!! Must go out NOOOOOOWWWWWW!!! Dammit!!!!” Yeesh. Just like her mama, Exclusive.

We turned Helen around so she wouldn’t notice the mare leaving, and I jogged back down to the gate with Weezy (who was snorting and dragging me the whole way, highly indignant that I’d interrupted her busy and very important schedule).  Luckily Helen really didn’t seem concerned about losing her friend.

Helen - before surgery... having a look at the x-ray machine.
Helen – before surgery… having a look at the x-ray machine.

She stood really nicely for the vet to take x-rays of the foot to make sure there were no problems other than the clubbing.  She does have a bit of bone loss in the coffin bone. But no breaks or other issues.

Club foot
Club foot

While I did not have my good camera with me, I did manage to get some fairly clear photos with my cellphone. This is Dr. Martyn Potter performing the surgery.

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After the surgery,  Dr. Potter warned us that she’d probably wake up groggy and flail around the stall alarmingly when she first got up. But she was very sensible. She staggered up and immediately had a big pee (it looked like it took a LOT of concentration to stay upright and pee at the same time, but she managed it).  She didn’t flail around at all. Just drifted sideways a bit, then around in a circle until she could get her head over the stall door to look around.

The leg is all bandaged up. She will be able to go out in the pasture tomorrow. It’s best if she moves around on it as soon as possible to begin the process of stretching everything back to normal.

 

 

A Few New Photos of the Mares and Foals

I still make plenty of mistakes with my camera. But I’m starting to feel like I know what I’m going to get in the end when I press the shutter. I know better how I want the camera set up for specific situations.

The other morning I got a couple of nice photos of the mares and foals just as the sun was coming up. I knew when I took them that I’d have to do a bit of editing to fix up the exposure. The first couple of photos below were taken before it was light. And they were handheld. So they were underexposed and very dark. But I took them in RAW format and was able to bring them up when I processed them.

Broodmares and Foals at Dawn
All three broodmares with their three foals, moving out into the pasture. That’s Bernice, Dora, and Loula. The foals are Ruby, Sammy, and Gabriella.

Ruby and Bernice at Dawn
Ruby is a very exhuberant filly. So it’s easy to get shots of her in motion. Her mama, Bernice is quite often in motion herself (though not in this photo), so Ruby takes after her. When there is this little light though, it’s very difficult to prevent motion blur (or blur from camera shake). So I was very happy that this one turned out as sharp as it did.

Ruby And Bernice
Ruby and Bernice again. The sun was above the horizon here, so I didn’t have to do much to fix the exposure.

Gabriella
Dora’s foal, Gabriella. The very perfect filly.

Gabriella and Dora
Gabriella, with Dora in the background.

Bernice and Ruby
Bernice and Ruby

Ruby
Bernice’s filly, Ruby

Diva and Sammy
Sammy, introducing himself, rather rudely, to Diva. Diva is Dora’s foal from two years ago.

Dora and Gabriella
Dora and Gabriella

Monster Moves In

I took the truck and trailer down to Woodbine Racetrack this morning and picked up my Monster. And… as of today, he really is MY Monster. I need another horse like I need a hole in the head. But it’s Monster.

I met Monster an hour or so after he was born. He was the most gorgeous foal I’ve ever seen. Perfect, chiseled head. Small, shapely ears, full of darling little curls. His mane and tail were all fluffy waves and ringlets. He was correct and balanced from birth, and stayed that way through all the normally awkward stages. He is 16.2hh, with big, solid bone and strong, healthy feet. The very image of a classy Thoroughbred. He has been my favorite of all the horses at work from the moment we met.

He went down to the track last year for the first time as a four-year old. He caught a very nasty virus and was really sick for a long time. He lost a lot of training time to the virus, and also to sore shins. Ana (who was his groom last year) thinks his stifles might have been sore too, and that seems likely, given his size. So he never ended up racing. This year, he’s been looking very good. He was showing that he had some talent. But unfortunately, also showing that he didn’t really want to be a racehorse.

A few days ago, he made a complete ass of himself at the starting gate, and sent the boss to hospital with a dislocated shoulder. Apparently he was jumping all over the pony who was dragging him, against his will, over to the gate (for gate practice). The gate guys got hold of him and shoved him bodily into the gate and, from the sounds of it, they hit him as all this was going on. When the gate was sprung, Monster came out and turned hard left. Then right. Then left again. There may have been a buck or two involved. The boss made it through one or two zigs, but missed a zag and came off hard. Witnesses said it was very bad. Monster was focused, determined, and angry.

Monster does not take being hit very well (and never has reacted well to it… since he was a wee little guy). He’s ejected a few exercise riders, and it was always some variation on Monster refusing to do something he was asked to do, the rider hitting him, and Monster dropping them in the nearby shrubbery. He’s efficient and quick, and very very powerful.

I’ve worked with Monster a lot, and honestly, I have NO clue how this behaviour developed. I never had much trouble with him (other than the standard hormonal rudeness that all the colts have before they are gelded). He’s a big, calm galoot of a horse. He is not afraid of anything. Not at all spooky. He’s kind of slow-moving, but he never ever refused to do anything I asked him to do. Of course I never actually rode him. Just did groundwork, trailer loading practice, lungeing, etc. But I did work with him every day for years. I really never expected anything like this from him.

Linda (who owned him), promised me from the beginning that when he was done racing I could have him. Everyone at the track is just done with him. The boss won’t get on him again and neither will the other riders he’s dropped. Everyone is pretty mad at him, but despite that, Linda doesn’t want him going off to strangers who might try to get after him with a whip and get hurt. There was no shortage of people who wanted him. Both last year and this year, various people mentioned that they’d be interested in him when he retired. The boss doesn’t actually want ME to get hurt and is quite opposed to me having him. But – not his decision. And I’ve gotten a lot more cautious in my old age. I have no intention of jumping blithely on him without doing a TON of basic training. I don’t have the skills that the riders at the track have, so I have to work out the difficulties before I get on him. Maybe it won’t work out and he really won’t be safely rideable. But I do love that horse, and I have to try to figure out what’s wrong.

Monster loaded up perfectly (though he’d been tranq’d, so he was very slow to amble up the ramp). The trailer is really much too small for a horse the size of Monster. But he generally carries his head low, and he didn’t fuss at all. We had taken out the back divider and converted the two standing stalls to a box stall for him, and he wedged himself in at an angle.

Once we got home, he was still perfectly calm. But he really didn’t want to get off the trailer. I think with the tranquilizer, he didn’t feel competent to step down the ramp. So he just stood there for a long time. Maybe 15 minutes or so. No fighting or dancing around. Just not moving. Since that is pretty much his default resistance, I didn’t want to get into a confrontation before he even got off the trailer at his new home. So we waited until he was ready. Eventually he decided to come down. He was very slightly unsteady, and the ramp is very steep, but he managed it without taking a header.

He’s in the little side paddock for now. He’s being really good. Calmly eating his hay and wandering around in between mouthfuls to investigate. After he settles in a bit, he will go out on the pasture with the rest of the herd for a month or two to just be a horse. Then I guess we will start groundwork. And of course… when (and if) I get around to riding him, I won’t be hitting him… that seems like a no-brainer.

Ana is pretty excited to have Monster here as well. She can’t afford another horse. But Monster was also her favorite last year when she worked down at the track. She has dreams of learning to jump, and riding Monster in schooling shows. We’ll have to see how he progresses of course, but if he gets over his issues, that would be good for him. He’s not likely, given his size, to make an endurance horse. But perhaps he’ll enjoy jumping.

Queen’s Bush Training Ride

On Sunday morning, Anastasija went in to work at 5am so she could get the mares and foals turned out at work and get back home by 6. By the time she got back, I had fed the horses and packed up the last few items. Ana was bouncing with excitement. She and Ares have done a couple of rides in the past, but last year she just didn’t have time to compete, so it’s been a while.

I went into Diego’s stall and put a halter on him, which immediately set him off. Change in routine… EEEKKK! “She’s gonna put me on the trailer!!!! Oh no, oh no, oh NO!!!!!” I left him to do wild-eyed laps around his stall for a few minutes.

Meanwhile Ana put some of Dressy’s old Easyboot Gloves on Ares. After rasping off a bit of flare, the boots fit him perfectly. Diego calmed down considerably as he watched Ares being booted and groomed and fussed over. He is both claustrophobic and herdbound, so travelling on a trailer alone is a double whammy. Knowing that Ares would be going settled him right down. Ares loaded like an old pro (which of course, as an off-track Standardbred, he is). Diego still hesitated for a minute or two, but it was really only a matter of form. He loaded up and backed into his stall across from Ares and started eating his hay calmly. After the last trip (which I never got around to writing about), where he seemed to revert completely back to his bad trailering days, I was very happy and offered gushing compliments on his intelligence, good manners, and wonderfully handsome self. Also cookies. All of which he accepted graciously while I attached the chest bar.

We were on the road by about 6:40am. The drive to Owen Sound is a bit more than 2 hours. On a Sunday morning, very early, it’s mostly an easy, traffic-free run. Much easier on the horses that way too.

The weather was beautiful, which was a big change from last year’s event which involved a mini-blizzard. Quite a few more riders showed up as a result. It was a nice mix of beginners and experienced riders. There were talks in the morning to explain all the rules, how the vetting works, how to read the trail markings, etc.

The morning training sessions
The morning training sessions

There was, as always, a really nice lunch. I was the only vegetarian there, and Doug (the ride manager) was kind enough to provide veggie dogs instead of the chili, which Sue Two-Names roasted ESPECIALLY for me, over the barbecue, on tree branches that she chose, cut, and peeled by hand. So I felt quite spoiled 🙂

After lunch was the ride talk. I got Ana over to listen to it, but I could see that she was starting to vibrate with excitement and probably wasn’t concentrating too well. It really didn’t matter too much. The trail was well marked and other than riding past one perfectly obvious turn arrow on BOTH loops, we had no problems.

Ares was much calmer than he was the first year that Ana brought him out. They’ve become much more of a team, and Ares trusts her implicitly. He’s a silly worrywart of a horse, but he’d walk through fire for her (shaking in his boots the whole time mind you!). He coped much better with the vetting and was not so anxious at the start.

Diego was pretty good too. He wasn’t upset or stressed. But he’s not really all that good at standing still for any length of time. So I did have to remind him to stand for the vet.

Emily and her Quarter Horse, Duke went out with us at the start. Ares led the way initially. He was a little rushy, but not crazy anxious. Diego was fine. Not even excited really. Ares in front, Duke behind… all was right in Diego’s little world. Eventually we put Emily and Duke in front, because Duke is just a rock. He trots along, steady, forward, and never spooks. Well… okay. He spooked. Big spook. Emily didn’t even flinch though. I waited to see if she’d say anything and a few strides later, Emily commented “You know… when I started this, I’d have been completely undone by that spook!” I laughed, because that was exactly what I’d been thinking. Emily has gained such an amazing degree of confidence in both her own ability and in Duke’s reliability since I first met them a couple of years ago.

Emily and Duke trotting out at the finish
Emily and Duke trotting out at the finish

The trails were very steep and winding, so Ares (who is still wearing at least half of his winter coat) did get quite hot and sweaty. He huffed and puffed at the top of all the hills. Ana was pretty alarmed and had visions of Ares failing to pass the parameter check (heart rate of 56 in 20 minutes). Even Diego was sweating, and he has lost all of his winter coat and generally loves hot weather.

When we got in off the first loop, Ana got a bit frazzled at how long it was taking Ares’ heart rate to drop. Diego was down within a couple of minutes, but I had to wash him off completely because all the dirt that he’d been saving up all winter (and that I thought I’d brushed out of him) had percolated up to the surface and black sludge was oozing down his sides and legs like toxic waste. Once he was marginally cleaner, I got the heart rate monitor wand and started tracking Ares’ recovery. He was fine, just still not quite cool. It took him about 12-14 minutes to get to 56. Considering that Ana herself was not at all calm, and that probably contributed, I wasn’t too worried about it. In the end, he vetted through just fine.

Anastasija and Ares - final trot out for the vets
Anastasija and Ares – final trot out for the vets

On the second loop, we walked more on the hills and took slightly longer. Ana worked on getting Ares to moderate his speed. He has a rocket propelled trot which Diego has to gallop to keep up with. It can be a bit uneven too, since he tends to surge forward and abruptly slow again. So Ana worked on an easy slow jog. Of course, to any horse but a Standardbred, that amounts to a strong, forward trot. Perfect.

Partway through, I tried to get Diego to take the lead and move out. He was fine taking the lead. But his idea about that is to go out front and show everyone how to enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace. I asked him what sort of endurance horse he thought he was. “Endurance horse????” he said, “who told you I was an endurance horse? That sounds like something only a crazy horse would do!!” So I tried enthusiasm. “Fun, Diego!!! We are having FUN!! Woo Hoo!!!” I tried flapping my arms, cheering, laughing (okay that might not have been me… might have been Ana and Emily laughing at my antics… whatever!). All he did was go from a western pleasure jog to an ambling trot. I think I did get a couple of canter strides up one hill. Mind you, when Earl and Ace went zooshing ahead, Diego suddenly became all business. He took hold and tried to go after them. I didn’t let him go, but it was at least a faint glimmer of hope that one day he might actually want to go a little faster.

Ares on the left, Diego on the right. Hopefully I was just trying to find my stirrup or something and I don't actually ride like that!
Ares on the left, Diego on the right. Hopefully I was just trying to find my stirrup or something and I don’t actually ride like that!

At the finish, I had Ana get off and walk with Ares for the final few hundred feet to give him a head start on his recovery. He wasn’t quite as hot as a result. Ana was better organized and much calmer for the second check too, and so Ares came down to parameter faster. Diego, being his usual self, was down to 48 the minute I pulled the tack. He’s really the perfect horse for a lazy rider. Though he did manage to ooze out another layer of sludge that I had to sponge off prior to vetting. He’s not nicknamed Pigpen for nothing.

I also forgot Diego’s face towel. That’s always a bit of a disaster. His face gets awfully itchy when he’s working. He stops every couple of miles to rub his face on his leg, and by the time he gets into the check, he’s trying to crawl out of his own skin. He literally can’t stand the itch. He knows he’s not supposed to rub his head on humans, but he gets a little crazed with the itch and dances around trying to find something anything to rub his face on. It can make it difficult to get him to stand for the vetting. Must remember that damn towel next time!

Ares, Diego, and Duke at the vetting
Ares, Diego, and Duke at the vetting

Ares, Duke, and Diego all passed the vetting fine and got completions. It was a training ride, so no placings or awards. Just mileage. But we all had fun, and Ana learned quite a bit about managing Ares and how to cool him. Ana’s riding has also visibly improved since she started with Ares (probably partly due to all the ponying at the track last year). She’s more balanced, her hands are better, and her lower leg is much steadier. Ares looks more balanced carrying her, and is much calmer on trail. They’ve both improved tremendously over the last two years.

Once we were all done, we loaded the horses. And Diego walked straight on the trailer with no fuss at all. Marched up the ramp, turned around, backed into his stall and started eating hay happily. Perfect end to the day 🙂

Diego
Diego

[Oh… and thanks to Veronica for all the photos!!!]

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Baby Pics of Sammy

I took more pictures of Sammy (Loula’s colt) while he was scampering around in the small paddock. I wouldn’t blame Loula one bit if she were already tired of him. He’s a bundle of energy and not all of it polite energy either. Sure is lucky that foals are cute or we’d never tolerate the little demons.

Click on any of the photos for a closer (and thus cuter) view:

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Sweet William

William is, of course, still on stall rest. And he continues to be a well-behaved, calm gentleman about it all. I am amazed at just how easily he is handling it.

Ana brushes him every day, and gives him rather a lot of kisses. He looks pampered and smug. I suspect he’s not even really missing turnout very much. The attention seems to be an acceptable replacement.

Come here... pleeeeaaaase???
Come here… pleeeeaaaase???

Even with the pins, the leg is still fragile enough that if he were fussy and upset about his imprisonment, he could easily do irreparable damage. So we are all very grateful for his amiable acceptance of the situation.

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Dora’s Tummyache

Dora is one of the three broodmares at work. She was quite a good racehorse in her day, but she’s an even better mother. She has a very odd, Jekyll and Hyde personality. When she has a foal, she is calm, amiable, and gentle. She loves and trusts the humans to handle her foal, but keeps a watchful eye. She is really the perfect broodmare.

As a racehorse, and also when she does not have a foal at side… Dora is a nasty witch. She used to bite everyone within range when she was at the track. And I definitely would not put it past her to take a chunk of my arm even now whenever she doesn’t have a baby around to turn her into Adorable Dora. She certainly takes chunks out of the other mares if they don’t move out of her way fast enough. She was a tough, scrappy racehorse. Just like her personality.

I hear that, years ago, the boss would stay out very late once in a while. When he finally did turn up and was questioned about his whereabouts, his answer was always “choir practice”. So that’s where Dora’s racing name came from. Choir Practice.

Yesterday Dora ate her dinner at around 4, and was fine when the boss called Ana to check on everything. Two hours later, Ana called me. “Is it normal for the mares to lie down?” Well sure. “and get up and lie down again?” Whoops. Alarm bells now. “I’m on my way”. I ran out the door and called Linda as I went. “Find the boss”.

When I arrived, Dora was lying down in her stall. Gabriella, her foal, was pawing at her. “Get UP Mom! I am hungry!” Dora got up and let the foal nurse for a minute or two but was obviously uncomfortable and lay down again. Then up, then down several more times. Snapped at the foal, then bit the wall a few times. I grabbed my stethoscope and listened for gut sounds. She had lots, but they were not normal. Heart rate was within normal range but probably slightly elevated at 44. She looked very unhappy. I called Linda back. No sign of the boss. She told me to call the vet.

Our regular vet was not available, so I spoke to the on-call vet. Very nice guy. He was quite concerned even though it didn’t look like a bad colic. The first week after a mare foals is a very high risk time period. So he came right away. He listened to her gut sounds for a long time while Gabriella wedged herself between Dora and the vet so she could more thoroughly investigate him. (She’s a bold little thing!). He told us the gut sounds were actually hypermotile (too much activity). He also did a rectal exam on her and found that her manure was kind of hard and dry. So he gave her a shot of banamine and gave her some medication by naso-gastric tube (that’s when they slide a hose through the nose and down into their stomach to pump in liquid medication and/or mineral oil).

Shortly after that, Dora perked right back up and started eating her hay. I drove back down to check on her at 11 pm and she was her normal self again. Lo and behold, the boss had turned up in the meantime and was fast asleep with no idea about any of the goings-on. And since I couldn’t wake him up banging on the door, I just left him and his bad hearing to sleep. Not as though he could do anything at that point anyway. I suspect he’d left his cellphone (with its 17 messages) at the track (a regular occurrence). He was very surprised to hear the saga this morning though!

Dora is just fine today. Lots of normal manure in her stall. So all is well. Most colics do end up fine. But it’s always a relief when they end well.

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Two Lovely Fillies

We’ve been waiting impatiently, ever since Sammy was born last week, for the other two mares to foal. I’m sure the boss was more impatient than any of the rest of us, since he’s been on foal watch every night for several weeks. After which he leaves for the track at around 5am to train the older horses. So I would imagine he’s longing for a full night’s sleep by now.

Sammy relaxing in the arena. It was pouring rain, so no sunny paddock today.
Sammy relaxing in the arena. It was pouring rain, so no sunny paddock today.
Sammy
Sammy

This morning was exciting though. First, Ana let me know that the boss had called to tell her that Bernice had her foal around 1 in the morning. Ana headed in early to see the new filly. A lovely sturdy little chestnut with some very flashy markings. A big wide white blaze and a hind stocking right up to the hock. She is by Giant Gizmo.

Bernice's flashy little chestnut filly
Bernice’s flashy little chestnut filly
Check out the high white stocking on her hind leg
Check out the high white stocking on her hind leg

I was just ambling around at home, contemplating a quick cup of tea before going in to meet the new baby, and to help Ana move the yearlings, when I got a mildly panicked call from her… “Dora is foaling!!!! What do I do???” So I abandoned the tea and ran for the car. When I arrived, I found Ana and Linda, both in a bit of flap. Dora had gone down with her tail to the wall. No way for a foal to come out safely, much less for me to get in and help at all.

We got her up (Dora is really quite a cooperative mare) and she went down again. Even tighter to the wall. So once again we had to get the poor mare up. This time she went down in the middle of the stall with plenty of clearance. Big relief!

Two hind feet and a nose were visible. That’s exactly what you want to see, so I relaxed and just let Dora push. Eventually I got hold of the feet and helped her a little bit. But it was all pretty much textbook, and the baby was trying to look around before she was even halfway born. She is a bright little spark with a beautiful, dainty face. I think she might end up looking rather like her mama. Dora has a lovely head. This filly is a bay with a big star on her forehead. She is also by Giant Gizmo.

Dora loves her babies
Dora loves her babies

The fillies seem to be faster to get up than the colts, and faster to figure out where and how to nurse. This filly was no exception. Girls rule 🙂

It takes a lot of concentration to make those long legs work properly!
It takes a lot of concentration to make those long legs work properly!
It's amazing how quickly they figure out how to use those long legs
It’s amazing how quickly they figure out how to use those long legs

So we are all done foaling for another year! Everyone has arrived safe and sound, and mamas are all very pleased with their babies 🙂

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Loula’s Colt

Loula’s colt is doing very well. He’s not at all shy with humans, and will undoubtedly be pure trouble very shortly. Anastasija came up with a name for the little guy… Sam. And the boss didn’t immediately ridicule it. So Sam it is.

They went out to the paddock to enjoy some sunshine this morning. He started out wobble-legged and worried. But soon gained a bit of confidence. Mind you, he is carefully staying glued to his mama’s side!

Isn’t he cute?

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

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