At 0530, Guitar Guy checked the barn as he left for work. I watched him drive off, meaning there was nothing going on, and I drifted back to sleep. At 0720, I heard the distinctive sound of horses greeting a new arrival. I'd slept in my clothes; I had only to turn on the coffee and make my way down to the barn.
There, beside her mama, was a perfectly healthy, vigorous filly. She was already dry, walking well, and was nursing. She promptly passed her meconium - the first movement of hard fecal matter that had been in the bowel prior to birth - and came over to greet me with confident curiosity.
|Sandy War Chick "Chica" and new filly|
(c) 2018 MJ Miller
Any time I welcome a new foal, after I do the immediate obligatory routine - treating the umbilical stump, checking to make sure the placenta has been passed, and other tasks ensuring safety and health of mama and baby - I look for two things that always amuse me. I look at the foal's tiny hooves to see the "golden slippers" on the toes, soft protective coverings that nature provides to protect the uterus from damage from the baby's hooves. They are only there briefly before they fray and vanish as the baby walks. Then I look for the "milt." The milt is a gelatinous mass of sorts, rubbery in texture, that is in the baby's mouth until birth. I'm not always able to locate it; it's easily lost in straw or dirt. Today I found it, nestled in the straw in the foaling stall.
Now, granted, this may not seem exciting to those of you who turn ashen at the sight of raw biology in action, but for me, it has a certain earthy charm. Back when, in my past life working with Arabians, I was told the Bedouins used to save the milt and dry it on the top of their tents for good luck. And in a nod to tradition, I'll do the same. Not that I'm counting on the extra good luck; I'm already lucky, with a healthy foal on the ground and a happy, proud mama horse beside her.
|Ethan the McNab pup realizes he's no longer the baby in the family|
And now it's time to brew another pot of coffee and head back down to the barn. These are the joyful moments - the great pleasures that make the hard work of horse keeping worthwhile.
(c) 2018 MJ Miller * All rights reserved * No portion of this content, including photographs, may be reproduced without permission of the author * Thanks for visiting!