Sunday, July 27, 2008

Why I'll never breed my horse again....

If you have a weak stomach, please don't read this post. I wrote this a few months ago and its a true story. This morning I was reading a different blog about the death of some one's horse and how its pasture mate had grieved and I was reminded of this terrible day. Please feel free to comment and for those of you that were there that day, if I left something out or remembered incorrectly, please feel free to correct me.

My best friend Delacy and my other friend Lacy board at the same barn I do. We’ve all been friends for a long time and are pretty much sisters at this point so we’d do anything for each other. Delacy has a 17 year old dark bay Thoroughbred mare named Lulu that is stalled right next to my mare Summer. Lulu was due to foal on April 17th and she had been bred to a Paint stallion that belonged to a client of Delacy’s. Gorgeous black and white by the name of Gallant’s Secret Wepn....I think. Anyways, Lulu has had 3 foals previously and never had a problem. She prefers people are around her when she foals and won’t foal alone. I think her 3rd foal was even a draft cross and there were no issues. She was super big through most of this pregnancy but she seemed fine and had even originally conceived twins but the vet had aborted one of the fetuses just to be safe. She was ultrasounded afterwards to make sure the fetus was aborted and the vet said she would be fine. Delacy wasn’t concerned about her being overdue because Lulu has carried her 1st 3 foals for a full 12 months rather than the usual 11. Well Delacy’s dad fell ill in California and was in a coma that required life support so Delacy had to leave early Thursday morning to be down there just in case he had to be taken off. Before she left she told us that if Lulu foaled we were NOT to contact her for any reason and she would just prefer to find the baby in her stall on Sunday when she returned. We kept an eye on her Thursday night and you could tell she was getting close. She was very swollen and waxed up but not doing her usual stall pacing like Delacy had described. Neither Lacy or I stayed the night out there then but knew we needed to keep a close eye on her just in case. On Friday night we noticed that her teats were leaking milk like faucets and decided to hang out as long as possible and see if she had any other early labor signs. The inside of her vulva was bright red but she wasn’t leaking any fluid so when it rolled around to 1:30 am I decided to go home and see my husband for a few hours and Lacy stayed to keep watch on her. At about 5:40 am saturday morning I got a call from Lacy that Lulu’s water had broken and I needed to get out there ASAP. When I reached the barn part of the sack was out and one tiny little white hoof was peeking out. Lulu was VERY restless. She was up and down and pacing her stall. It took a few minutes to notice but suddenly we realized that the one little white hoof didn’t look right. At first Lacy thought it was a hind foot, but upon closer inspection I saw a second hoof pushing out at the very top of her vulva. We immediately called the vet who lived at least 30 minutes away from our barn. He said he’s be right out. As we nervously waited for him we tried to keep Lulu calm and stop her pushing but that was almost impossible to do. She KNEW something wasn’t right. Whenever she’d lay down she’d roll over on her back in an effort to get the baby turned in the right position. The vet reached us in 15 minutes. We stood her up and he reached inside to see how the foal was positioned and confirmed our fears, it was in fact upside down. He attempted to turn the foal but was unable to. He gave Lulu a slight tranquilizer to calm her and we got her to lay back down. This is only the second foaling I’d ever watched so I really had no idea what to expect so I didn’t notice alot of things right off the bat so bear with me.....He went and got some lube and a pump and a bucket of water and pumped as much of the lube into her as possible. He then attempted to turn the foal again. by this time you could see both hooves up to the fetlocks and the sac was still intact. He broke the sac and started pulling on the foals legs with her contractions. Slowly he got the foal up to his knees and we could see a little black and white nose. This is about when everything seemed to go even more terribly wrong. Lulu wouldn’t stay in one place and we kept having to rotate her body around to give the vet more room to move. He kept cursing and suddenly jumped up and ran to his truck, coming back with some chains. He looped them around both legs of the foal and began pulling as hard as he could. Eventually he asked one of us to help him and we were able to get the foal out as far as its withers. It had been a full hour at this point and it was obvious the foal was not alive. We were all crying by now. The vet jumped up again and came back with what looked like a large jack that he tried bracing against Lulu’s butt with to pull the baby out but couldn’t get enough room and wasn’t able to keep it stable. We decided to get her up and out of the stall to see if he could do it outside the barn. Lulu stood and walked out the barn with this beautiful little foal dangling lifelessly behind her. When we got her outside the vet attempted again to use the chains and pull the foal out but it was still stuck. Lulu’s mouth was bleeding, she had bitten her tongue at some point during the ordeal. The vet asked us to bring her back into the barn. He said he could do one more thing to save Lulu but we weren’t going to like it. I asked him what that was. He said he’d have to take the baby out in pieces. He heavily sedated her and set to work. I stayed outside the stall and didn’t watch but occasionally I’d hear some horrific sucking noises and my friend Lacy would walk out with blood all over her hands. They had taken a long wire and cut the baby in half at the shoulders. At one point the vet asked for a hay hook, and only God knows why he needed that. When they couldn’t get the 2nd half out they removed all of the organs and the vet practically broke his hand trying to free the hips from Lulu’s pelvic bone. Suddenly Lacy went flying by me dragging the hindquarters behind her. The vet emerged from the stall covered in blood. He had saved Lulu. She had torn a little and retained some of the placenta but she’d be ok. After a while she awoke and we slowly walked her outside so we could clean her stall. She whinnied and called for the baby that could never answer. My mare and her foal were out in the arena and she almost went crazy when she heard the filly whinny. After talking it over we decided we’d take her to where her baby lay and let her sniff and mourn. She was pretty calm about it and sniffed and licked and nudged it. We all cried as we watched her attempt to wake the baby but eventually she realized it was impossible and began eating grass. We took her back to her clean stall after rinsing her down and she stood sadly in the middle, but she no longer called for her baby. My husband spent 5 hours digging a proper grave in a back pasture and we buried the colt that day. I balled when he laid him in the grave and arranged him so that he was "whole" again. We buried him and returned to the barn. They had measured the carcass before we buried it and the colt was 10 hh at the but. Without his leg being properly stretched out. He was huge. I still see those images in my head and I’m not sure they’ll ever go away. I am just so thankful Delacy didn’t have to see her mare go through that and will hopefully never think of that colt as anything but the beautiful whole baby we described to her. She knows everything that happened and made us tell her before she got home. She handled it well and if its possible we’re all even closer now than we were before. She’s also never breeding Lulu again.I’m sorry this was so long but I hope before you think about breeding your mare because you’d like to have a baby out of her, or you think it would calm her down, please think about how much of a risk you are taking. And what a horrific event it could be. I was so lucky my mare had an easy birth. She was one of the lucky ones. But I’ll never take the gamble again. I love her too much and it just isn’t worth it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why can't everything be easy?

Weaning is not going so well. Yesterday at work I called Kristy, my barn owner, to tell her the trainer I was going to check out last night had canceled on me. During our conversation she told me how poor little Kaia knocked down the top railing of the vinyl fence around her pasture yesterday morning in an attempt to reach Summer who was being led by at the time. They put her in Summer's stall for the rest of the day. When we originally seperated them Monday night I left Kaia in with her buddy Yogi to make the transition easier. I told Kristy that my only worry about that situation was that Kaia might try to nurse off of her. Sure enough, Kristy found her Tuesday trying to nurse off Yogi, and Yogi let her! So they were seperated and Kaia was left by herself. Then she decides she can climb fences. Luckily it was the vinyl so she didn't get hurt but still I'm a little worried about her.
On the lighter side my nephews are visiting so Tuesday night we went out to see Summer and Kaia and all three boys rode Summer. I couldn't believe it! Ethan, the 7 year old, is just really starting to get into horses and he has a natural seat and absolutely loves to be around them. He can be pretty fearless at times so I try to keep my eye on him. Austin, the 9 year old, likes them but the few times he has sat on Summer was pretty scared and would jump and look frightened at her slightest movement. I've always had to lead her around for him while he white knuckles the saddle horn. Ethan on the other hand loves to ride Summer by himself and I let him steer but I clip my lunge line on a halter under her bridle just in case. He is pretty small for his age and wouldn't have enough muscle to stop her if she decided to be a brat. Little Kellen is 2 and loves the horses but we've tried several times before to have him sit on Summer or different horses but he always cries and gets upset so this time I let him decide whether he wanted to ride. He wanted to be the first! We put his helmet on and lifted him up into the saddle and his tiny little hands gripped onto the horn and this great big grin spread across his face. Not once did he hesitate or look scared. Summer and I walked him all over the arena and he loved it. Next was Ethan's turn. He wanted to get in the saddle all by himself so bad but Summer is pretty tall compared to the pony he rode before so we boosted him up and off he went. Summer was so good for him. Its funny how some horses just KNOW when there is a kid in the saddle. Her head drops and she gets this sleepy look on her face and everything about her just relaxes. She'll walk all over for him and stop and turn and not once does she even think about breaking into a trot like she does for me. Ethan wanted to go faster so we tied up her reins so they wouldn't drag and I lunged her around me at a walk, trot, then a canter for just a few strides so he could see what it was like. His tiny little butt was bouncing all over in the saddle but he hung on and even Summer didn't mind. She looked so collected and smooth in her trot I almost didn't recognize her. Who is this horse? She even did well for Austin and he hasn't taken any lessons. He suprised me big time by wanting to ride by himself, he even looked confident and relaxed up there asking her to move around the arena.
Its funny how we can saddle her up, put a kid on her, and her head drops and she acts like an old dead broke pony but I can get on her 10 minutes later and her head pops up and its GO TIME. Put little Kellen in my lap and her head goes back down. She loves kids. I just wished she loved me that much all the time. I've got another trainer coming out Friday night and I'm going to watch her work some of Kristy's horses and then take a lesson from her and see if I like her. So hopefully she'll be able to help us some.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Starting Over

I have had Summer for over a year and this is only the 3rd time I've seen her in heat. Crazy huh? When I got her she was already confirmed in foal, due this April. She was green. Hardmouthed. And I was told all I needed to do was put miles on her and we'd be fine. WRONG. I am a big chicken when it comes to riding and I was just as green as my horse. Not a good combo. Add in the fact she had a nasty wolf tooth that caused her excruciating pain and made her sometimes violently toss her head and over all pregnant bitchiness. We were quite the pair. Don't get me wrong. Summer is a wonderful horse and I wouldn't trade her for anything. We have a connection that is undescribable, but we didn't before. I was ignorant and impatient and can have a terrible temper. I wouldn't say I know everything now but I've come along way and Summer and I get closer and closer to being a team every day. The 4 or 5 months of her pregnancy that I couldn't ride her helped build a bond I never thought possible. It was also the hardest 4 or 5 months of owning a horse I think I'll ever have. I've wanted my own horse my entire life and for that chunk of time when she wasn't rideable was extremely depressing. I was pissed I had bought some stupid pregnant bitchy horse and now after waiting so long couldn't ride. It just wasn't fair. Somedays I was really mad and other days I just spoiled her and tried to deal with it. Once that foal hit the ground I was ecstatic. Almost time to ride! Summer was a great mom and her filly couldn't have been born more perfect unless she'd been a Paint instead of solid.Summer was a great mom and you could tell she loved it. Kaia was alot of fun to imprint and work with but she is now 4 months old and I am ready to have my horse back. I found Kaia a wonderful home with a great couple that lives on the coast and they come see her almost every weekend. They can't wait to take her home. As much as I love her I can't wait for her to leave. SureI'll miss her but taking care of two horses is stressfull and I really like to focus just on Summer. She deserves it.

So tonight is a new beginning for us. I weaned Kaia.This is the beginning of getting to know her without being pregnant and no baby to worry about. A chance to find out if she's a major wench when she's in heat or if it was just her being too overloaded from all the feed and supplements and alfalfa pellets. I am really excited to get to know her.

The last 2 weeks I had been seperating her and Kaia a little here and there when I rode Summer. Some of the stalls at my barn look into the arena so Kaia went in a stall where she could still see mom but couldn't nurse. Summer did really well. She turned her head every time we would pass Kaia in her stall but she never balked and never seemed upset during any of our sessions. Afterwards I would let Kaia out and she would get to nurse as long as she wanted. After doing this for several nights I decided yesterday that when I brought Summer in to ride her I would leave Kaia out with her buddy Yogi (cute QH mare) and lunge Summer in the indoor arena. They couldn't see each other and both seemed to do fairly well. Kaia hollered and whinnied the whole time I was tacking up Summer while Summer just stood there and listened. She listened to me really well in the arena and only called out to her daughter a few times. I worked her for about 25 minutes and when she settled down completely I finished our session and released Kaia from the pasture. They both received baths yesterday and afterwards I let them play in the arena for a while. Here are some of my last and favorite pictures of them together.

Tonight went much easier than I expected. I brought Summer in, tacked her up and took her into the arena without her so much as turning an ear to her hollering baby. She lunged really well and even seemed more relaxed than normal. I tightened her girth, slipped on her bridle and she stood quietly in the middle of the arena for me to climb in the saddle. Her ears were perked forward in the direction of the "suffering" foal but she stayed quiet and still until I asked her to move forward. We walked calmly on the rail and she did turn hr head several times but didn't even act up when we watched the stallion being led into his stall. Its like she acknowledged it was time. I think she's ready for me to conecentrate on her and only her. Is that possible?

We finished our ride with her only calling out to Kaia once and she only squatted one time, for a mare. But in her defense the stallion had just ben in that field so maybe she still smelled him. Then again maybe she thought the mare was cute. When I left the barn tonight Summer was happily munching hay in her stall and Kaia was eating her dinner with her new friend Yogi in the pasture. Not one of them looked stressed one bit.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


This weekend was wonderful. My husband and I went camping with his family up in Washington at Ike Kinswa State Park. Most of his family lives in Washington and its at least a 6 hour drive to see them so this was a great opportunity for some "quality" family time. I think the last chance we all had to get together was our wedding last August.
One thing I love so much about my husband's family is that its HUGE. His dad's side, who we went camping with this weekend, consists of 6 brothers and one sister. They are all married and have at least 2 kids each. One of his uncles has 4 kids and another has 6 kids so you can imagine the chaos when the whole family gets together. I pretty much soak it up. From the time we get there to the time we leave. I grew up with aunts and uncles but we only saw each other about once a year and I wasn't as close with my cousins as my husband's family is. They all talk on a regular basis and are so comfortable with each other its incredible to watch. My family on my dad's side we haven't really spoken to much since my dad left and not one of them came to my wedding. Not one. And my mom's side didn't show either. I'm not always the best about keeping up with people so I do understand why none of them came. We did get some wonderful presents from them but it was a little saddening to realize only 7 of roughly 200 guests were MY family.
Suddenly though I've been thrust into this huge and amazingly loving family that I can't wait to get to know. This weekend camping with them I finally was able to connect with them and had some great conversations with a few of the cousins. We all laughed alot, hugged each other, and I even let loose a few of my famous trucker burps. I think cousin Jaimee almost stood up and applauded after the first one. All in all, even with the 24 hours of rain out of the 3 day weekend and the complete lack of sunshine I had a GREAT weekend. Now onto more horsie things.....

How did I get here?

Last year around February my job in an injection molded plastics factory called and offered me a promotion. To the graveyard shift. Not the most ideal shift but I had been training as a material handler for some time and I finally had the chance to do it full time, even if it meant working when I should be sleeping. I was living with my fiance (now husband) and we had our 2 beautiful dogs in our lives. Sid is my husband's and he's an American Bulldog.

And Thor is my beautiful Rottweiler princess.

I loved them both but something was missing. One morning, after work, I was browsing our local Craigslist and decided I needed something to do in the morning to keep myself busy before bedtime. I posted an ad saying I was willing to help around someone's property just for the chance to be around horses and learn a thing or two. Within a few days this wonderful couple had emailed me and said they might be able to help me. My husband and I drove out to their property a few days later.

Ravell had an inviting, warm smile and a passion for his horses I immediately loved. Julia's girlish blonde ponytail and sparkling blue eyes accompanied by her quiet demeanor set me at ease right away. They walked us around their farm and introduced us to each horse. Tornado the 5 year old Friesian stallion, Velvet the 2 year old Friesian/Thoroughbred cross filly, Beauty the black Quarter Horse mare, Flicka the 11 year old Quarter Paint mare, and Flicka's 4 year old daughter Princess. Each horse was beautiful and unique and it was wonderful just to be near them. This was all new to my husband but it was like wrapping up in a comfortable old childhood blanket for me. I had loved horses for so long and now I was going to be able to work around them and possibly even ride! We discovered that day that although we loved to sit and talk with Ravell and Julia that we would definitely need a plan of action every time we visited if we wanted to be out of there in time. I think we spent almost an hour and a half that first time just trying to leave. Before we left though I agreed to come out 3 times a week to help clean stalls, feed, and work with the horses. Flicka, the big gorgeous sorrel mare with the blaze shaped like Woody Woodpecker, would receive special attention from me. I couldn't wait.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Finally joining the revolution!

So here I go. I'm finally doing it. I've been addicted to reading blogs for a while now and I think its time I start my own. Not because I have any useful information or to keep my self accountable for anything but because I tend to have alot of crazy stuff happen to me. And someone out there just might find it interesting. Doubtful but you never know.....
The majority of my postings will be about horses. I've loved them my whole life but up until a year ago I had never had my own. My parents never had the money or means to let me have one so I suffered through collecting model horses and living vicariously through my friends whose parents were able to let them have horses or take lessons. There was even a time in my desperation to own a horse that I showed my collectible Breyers and had a great time of it although now I won't admit that in public. I did take lessons when I was 12 and worked them all off by cleaning stalls, feeding chickens and general barn cleanup but unfortunately at that age I just didn't have the work ethic it took to continue doing what I was doing. These days at 25 almost 26 years of age I have finally grown up and thanks to my wonderful, amazing, and tolerant husband I now have a horse of my own. Its the greatest thing on Earth. But the journey to get here was an ugly one. I learned alot though and even though my mare isn't perfect to industry standards, she's perfect for me and I love her.
Summer is a 5 or 6 year old Quarter/Paint mare that a friend found for me last year. She was not registered at the time and I knew absolutely nothing about her background. The lady I bought her from is a Paint breeder and although she loved Summer she just didn't fit into her breeding program so she decided to sell her. I had already had some bad experiences with 2 previous horses I had leased (more info later) so I was really nervous to go check out Summer but my friend said she was a really nice quiet mare that just needed more time put on her. Amother thing that worried me about her was that she was bred and I had NO IDEA what to do with a foal. I drove out there anyways. The first time I rode her was scary. She was a fast walker when she's nervous and had almost no "whoa" because her mouth was really HARD. She also had this horrible habit of tossing her head and chomping on the bit constantly. Her name then wasn't Summer but Beauty and it just didn't fit her. I wasn't ready to buy her right then because of our financial situation but wanted to free lease her with the option to buy. I went back two more times after that and rode her both times. Each time we both calmed down a little more and by that 3rd ride I had already decided her new name would be Summer. She has this gorgeous thin blaze on her face that looks to me like a lightning bolt and the first thing I thought of was how lightning looks during a summer storm. So after that 3rd ride I had tied her up and was finishing untacking her when I went to pull her bridle off. At that very same time she turned her head, looked me in the eye and then laid her head on my left shoulder. Right then and there I knew she was mine. I brought her home on July 3rd of last year, so exactly a year ago today. We had a lease contract where I would keep her for 2 months and then decide whether I wanted to buy her or not. If I decided I liked her I would make payments and then have her paid off by March of 2008. She is now fully mine and has a 3 month old filly at her side. We'll be going to our first show in August at the county fair and I am so excited. And scared to death. But thats a post for another day.
Well tomorrow is a holiday and I'm leaving for Washington tonight after work so I won't blog again for a few days. Have a great 4th of July!