The Cover for Carolyn McSparron's New Book

I just downloaded a preliminary copy of the cover for my September Heartwarming entitled Taking the Reins. It’s wonderful! The book is about a group of wounded veterans who are learning to drive draft horses on a breeding farm. During the course of the book there is a very special birth. The cover shows a mare and foal nuzzling one another. During the years that I’ve bred horses I’ve seen many scenes just like that. I generally cry. The love between them is so touching.

When I stopped breeding, not having at least one foal a year was like canceling Christmas. I’ve no business having any more babies, but boy, do I miss it!

Although delivering a foal can be harrowing. Unlike human mothers, mares spend only about ten minutes in the second stage of labor, although they may spend a couple of days in the first stage. If you don’t have a baby on the ground no more than twenty minutes after the mare’s water breaks, you have a major problem.  The normal presentation for the baby is first one front foot, then the other slightly behind it, and with the baby’s head flattened on top of the legs. A mare can deliver a completely breech baby—one in which both rear legs come out followed by the rest of the body, but it’s tough. I have had a mare who showed me one leg, then a nose, but no second leg. That means only one thing. The other leg is crooked back behind the mare’s pelvic bone. I had to get her back on her feet—no mean feat when she weighed about fifteen hundred pounds—shove the baby back into the birth canal, reach in, find the trapped leg and pop it free of the pelvic bone. A moment later the baby slid free normally, and I was left holding a two hundred pound foal on its way to the ground.

No big deal, except that if she mare gives a contraction while the arm is inside her, she can easily break the arm in several places. I was lucky. So was the baby.

A newborn foal with its great trusting liquid black eyes, is generally as flat as a pancake to facilitate birth. Within twenty-four hours the foal looks as though its been pumped up with a bellows. And within another day it is running free galloping behind Mama.

I know I don’t need any more babies, but Zoe is no spring chicken. I wonder if I should consider breeding her to my friend’s Friesian stallion? Somebody stop me!


  1. Great post! Looking forward to reading it:)

  2. Carolyn, Look at it this way--you can have as many babies of all sizes, shapes and descriptions in your books. Not as messy, or costly, but still satisfying enough to make you cry.

  3. Carolyn - my inclination would be to encourage, "Do it! Do it!" But puppies and kittens are the sum total of my birthing experience. So - "Don't do it!" It sounds as though the drama in your book is going to touch a lot of hearts and require that your time be spent writing more and more. But I can relate to the yearning. I want an English Mastiff puppy in the worst way!

  4. I helped a cow give birth and I cried and cried. It was such a miracle and I can't even put into words. I can imagine how much more special it is when you are emotionally connected to the horse and her foal becomes your baby too and all of the excitement and nerves that go along with the birthing process. Your book sounds amazing and I can't wait to read it!! Thanks for this terrific post, Carolyn :)

  5. Carolyn, this is wonderful and I can't wait to see your cover!

  6. My neighbor has a Freisan and a Shire. I can't tell them apart. Then there's Bud, a Clydesdale. I had a mustang for thirty years, but when she passed away, I closed that chapter. No more horses for me, though we live in a horse rich area. However, my neighbor's camels stole my heart. Playing with them gave birth to our July Harl. Intrigue, FALCON'S RUN and our Heartwarming, HANDSPUN CHRISTMAS. I'll be sharing photos of them closer to the release date. They're on my FB page though.


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