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.

1 comment:

Leah said...

I had no idea that had happened! That's horrible! I'm sorry. What a horrible thing to have to remember.