Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Artic's Foal

It was still dark and raining when the phone rang, I glance at the time and it was 6:30 am. I knew it was Johnny calling. Artic had her foal...I told him I would be right there. Ed did not come with me, I threw on my clothes and off I went. Johnny was in the barn when I got there. He said when he came out the foal was there and was already dry. The foal was a colt and just so pretty, with the most beautiful coat of fur . Artic was uncomfortable so Johnny gave her some medication and that seemed to help her. The foal was tall and was having a hard time trying to nurse, he could not bend his head down enough to get under Artics belly. Artic was a skilled mother as she corralled him towards her, it was amazing to watch. My only other experience was with Salina's first foal (mine too) and there was a huge difference with this experience mother. However all her attempts were futile, the foal could not get in to nurse. Johnny was getting very nervous. He was sitting on a bucket at the stall door, he was not feeling well and his breathing was difficult. He would go into the stall and move the foal to the mare and try to position him to nurse, milk was dripping everywhere but the foal could not get his head tilted enough. The foal was getting tired as was Johnny. I tried the same several times and was so surprised to see how difficult it was to move this nearly 100 lb baby. He did not want to call the vet, but if the foal did not nurse soon he would, and they would have to put a feeding tube into the foals belly to feed him. I asked Johnny if he had formula and a bottle, he said he did and went into the house to get it,(my newborn nursery skills were kicking in). He tried the bottle on the foal but he would not suckle. I waited a bit and went in the stall to give it a try myself. I first tested his suck with my finger. The foal had a strong suck so that was a good sign, he was not weak just stubborn. I then put the nipple in his mouth and tilted it towards the palette and then he sucked. This was good, now he could rest and then we could try again. I kept repeating the process until I finally got that foal to nurse....and wow that was amazing! I spent at least 2 hours on my knees in that stall that morning. I know Johnny felt helpless, he just physically could not help. The sleeves of my denim shirt were soaked from holding the mares engorged breasts and the foals face. Finally when we left the barn Johnny thanked me and said "I do not know what I would have done without you". He is not much on sentiments so that was a lot coming from this tough cowboy.

I now knew why I walked into his yard a year ago, why I was sent there and why I was drawn there. He needed me and I needed to be there.


  1. Awww...I loved to read this. How great it is that you have the training that you have and could help with this foal. Just totally made my day and how special for you. We ARE drawn to a purpose.

  2. It's wonderful you were there to help him. The taller foals have a hard time and some just don't seem to get it. I had a first time mother who was so good with her colt, but he was sure the milk bar was at her chest! I finally started to milk the mare to get the colostrum into him. He got so excited when he saw me! Eventually he figured it out, but it took a whole day. When he dipped his head and suckled, I let out a mighty whoop!