Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Debut of Smart Lil Poppy

Last Friday, after a full 367 days of gestation, the newest addition to the herd finally ... finally ... arrived.  Now, depending on which expert estimate you adhere to, the normal gestation period of a pregnant mare is either 340 days or 11 months + one week from the final breeding date.  My mare, Zippin Cody Bertie, long exceeded that day.

It was a long, long wait.  When I have a mare coming due, I prepare early, as most of us do.  I keep my calendar clear the week before her due date and a full week after.  I stock up on straw bales and, as she starts showing signs of pending parturition, I begin to line the sides of the foaling stall and turnout with them to prevent a foal from slipping beneath the bottom rail.  I open bales of straw so there is clean, soft, fresh bedding.  I begin washing the mares udder regularly, and wrapping her tail if it looks like the event will soon occur.  I check the mare every two hours throughout the nights I suspect any activity.

This went on for the week prior to Cody's due date, the week after, and then a full three weeks after that.  She gave me no false alarms, bless her heart:  no turning to look at her sides, no lying down and spasming, no night sweats.  She bagged up early and stayed bagged up.  She was comfortable.  Too comfortable, I think.  At night when I'd wander out, flashlight in hand, watching carefully for rattlesnakes in the brush, she'd be standing in the exact same spot -- in front of the turnout gate.

I began to worry.  I even wrote about it, in as humorous a fashion as I cold muster, equating the waiting process to the five stages of death and grieving:  The Seven Stages of Foaling.  I pictured a terribly dis-mature foal, not fully formed (as occasionally happens on really long pregnancies).  I had visions of a grossly deformed foal, with two heads and five legs.  I feared a non-viable foal, and watched carefully for the tell-tale signs:  discharge, colicky behavior, sepsis.

I got nothing.  I began to wonder if the foal had been resorbed, even though I'd  had Cody palpated and ultrasounded many months into gestation.  It's a surreal experience, waiting for the foal to arrive, and having weeks pass with no grand debut.

And then it happened.  The most beautiful of fillies arrived at last.  It was a textbook delivery:  minimal bruising to the mare, no tearing, no placenta retention, nothing but a wonderful, healthy, well-formed, mature, BIG, straight-legged, gorgeous filly, who passed her vet check with flying colors, nursed promptly, and is the picture of good health and good breeding.  I was giddy ... I still am.  I was shocked that she was healthy, stunned that she was a filly (colts often take longer to cook than fillies), and surprised that she was so big and mature.

But then I found the deformity.  The little girl had been so tightly packaged for so long, her little tailbone was bent backwards at the end, and she has a very distinctive, permanent, curly tail.  There's no mistaking it:  it's a little oinker tail at the end!

It matters not, though:  our little Poppy is perfect.

Meet our Smart Lil Poppy, who was so worth the wait!