Monday, June 11, 2012

Waiting on the Mare

Three weeks ago, Tori, the pretty bay mare, body suddenly changed. She went from us not being 100% certain she was bred, to being able to say without a shadow of a doubt she is definitely in foal. Great!

About two weeks ago, I noticed droplets of wax forming on the tips of her teats. Every horse breeder will tell you this indicates the mare is about to foal, usually within the next 48 hours. This fact can be found in every single horse book written on the subject of foaling. The mares drip what looks like candle wax for 24-48 hours, which eventually changes to dripping milk. According the books, the appearance of the milk means the mare will foal within
12-6 hours.

The sight of that wax led to a frenzy of activity; we moved the dog stuff out of the foaling stall which we’d been using as a kennel, leveled the stall, brought straw in from the back, and checked to make sure the foaling kit was in order. That night, I brought Tori in from outside and explained to her that this was where she was supposed to have her baby. 

During this time we also cast several nervous glances at the calendar. Tori, along with her full sister Aerial, aren’t due until the Fourth of July. We really don’t like foals that come six weeks early, we prefer they come out fully baked, but since there’s not much we can do to stop it, we just sat back and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

We’re still waiting.

That’s right, Tori still hasn’t foaled.  

See that’s the thing about the book, the breeder and caretakers might read them but the horses don’t. When it comes to livestock production, the books can be used as a guideline, but they can’t be treated like the bible. Animals, like humans, have their own unique sets of quirks, personalities, and hormones. It doesn’t matter if you’re raising cattle, pigs, rabbits, or horses, you have to learn to go with the flow.

We know that Tori’s sister usually follows the book. She likes to foal at night, and that if given a choice, she would like to give birth outside. We learned that their dam, Basil, she laughed at the book and proceeded to gush milk for about two weeks prior to foaling, and took sadistic delight in watching us stumble around in a sleep deprived haze.

In Tori’s case no one knows what to expect. Tori is a maiden mare, meaning she’s never foaled before. We’re keeping a record and hoping it will help us learn her individual signs, and waiting to see what happens. We’re not freaking out because she started waxing sooner than expected, and we’re not freaking out because she didn’t foal 48 hours after she started to wax, though I’m getting a little tired of bringing her in each evening. We’re letting nature run its course and are prepared to step in and lend a helping hand should Tori need it. 
Compared to Tori, Aerial looks like she'll be giving birth to a baby elephant! She's huge!

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