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!