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The last few steps to the barn felt like miles. Devon seemed so frantic on the web cam that I had no idea what to expect as I approached her stall. As soon she heard the door slide open she turned and ran straight to me, pushing her head into my chest as if she were trying to burrow inside. She was breathing heavily and her body was hot to the touch. She was so drenched with sweat that I could feel it seeping into my shirt. I was completely taken aback by her reaction and the terrified expression on her face. I couldn't take a single step with out her being right up against me. I had prepared myself to exercise restraint, I planned to sit and watch from a distance unless she needed me. Obviously that was not going to happen. Devon was confused,frightened and adamant that she did not want to be left alone. As I stroked her neck she began to settle and I was able to lead her away from the wall. She started arching her neck and began pushing.
As she took a step away looking for a place to lie down I saw the sack beginning to emerge. I was relieved to see it was white... big sigh of relief... A red bag delivery was one of my top 5 foaling nightmares, especially after we found out she had eaten so much fescue. Devon was circling as she pushed, she kept looking like she wanted to lay down but then she wouldn't. As she turned away from me I saw the first foot, followed by the other slightly behind it, soles down. YES! Everything seemed to be fine... She lied down next to the wall again despite my effort to pull her away. She began to really push as she rocked side to side. I crouched down next to her to see if I could get a good look but she was so close to the wall that I couldn't see. She got up again, this time the foal appeared to be less "out" than before. She was walking in circles again as she continued to push. She finally laid down again in a position that was difficult to see or reach her, she was only down for a few seconds, then she was trying to rise again. This time when she stood I saw the nose and again I was relieved. I figured now it was just a matter of time.
I kept thinking about all the mares I had watched foal on marestare. Many of them would start to get up and then they would lay back down. It was a way of repositioning the baby, getting ready to push it out. I kept thinking thats what she was doing too. A few of the mares would get all the way up and then immediately lied back down again. Devon was just taking a while longer to lay back down. I left the stall to get my phone and she panicked again, jumping up to her feet, this time rubbing the legs against the wall as she turned. I tried to get to the back to check the foal but every time I turned she followed so it was difficult to see what position the foal was in. When she began to go down again she turned enough that I could see the feet again. They were now crossed... There was also now no nose visible. I was on the phone with Susan(our experienced breeder friend) trying to explain what was happening and we decided it would be best she came to help. I couldn't leave Devon's head long enough to help her and I knew she was making no progress on her own.
In the few minutes it took for Susan to arrive Devon got up and down many more times. The last time she went down I was able to get to the back and look and there was barely anything to grab. Just two crossed feet. I could hear Susan entering the barn so I decided to wait. She came in and walked to the back of Devon to check the foals position. I stayed at Devon's head as she uncrossed the legs. She said it would be a good idea to assist Devon as she pushes to help her progress without sucking the foal back in after each push. I was concerned about pulling the foal too much but Susan assured me we would only be holding during contractions and providing resistance to help Devon push the foal out without so much strain. I agreed and thats what we set out to do. The first push went well and I thought we were on our way. Then my poor confused mare stood up...again...
Now the bag was broken and progress had been made, this would have been a good thing if only she was lying down. She was pacing the stall again and I saw her back up to the wall. All along in her pregnancy she pushed against the wall when she became uncomfortable. I think it was a way to relieve the pressure she felt from the foal pushing against her. She was trying to do the same thing now except the foal was already on his way out. I attached a lead to her halter and pulled her as hard as I could off the wall. I tried to go to her hind to look but once again she tried to follow. Susan jumped right in and went to work. Devon was going to try and have this foal standing up. So much for all my damn notes! I was prepared for everything but this. Why would she want to stand? Luckily, Susan was ready and able to help see her through. There was just enough room to stand behind her and break the foal's fall as he came down. I just had to stay at her head and keep her from backing up and to try and keep her calm.
On the way out the foal became hip locked and it took some maneuvering to free him so that he could be pushed the rest of the way out. Devon was shaking and in obvious pain she put her head on me again and started to push. I talked to her and stroked her neck as Susan guided the foal to the ground. I was amazed at how she managed to break his fall so carefully. Holding onto a slippery 100 pound foal that is dangling from a confused maiden mare is no small feat. I was incredibly grateful to have her there to help us. We had a beautiful bay colt. I felt a huge lump in my throat as I kissed my sweet mare on the neck. It's hard to describe what I was feeling but I have never felt so close to her or so incredibly proud of her as I did in that moment.
The colt began calling out to his mama as soon as he hit the ground. She kept looking back wondering what in the hell was behind her. Once the foal was on the ground we had to treat his umbilical cord right away. Unlike when a normal mare foals lying down, the umbilical cord broke instantly when he hit the ground. I ran to get the solution and dip the stump as Susan tied up the placenta. Devon was exhausted but still standing so I turned her around so she could see the foal. All my worries about whether she would make a good mom or not melted away the instant I saw her face against his. She nickered to him and he replied. She didn't know what to do with him yet but she knew he was hers. Devon didn't need any help with this part... She was a great mama from the very start. The others arrived just in time to watch her begin to clean him. The expression on her face had changed drastically from the terrified maiden I met an hour ago. She was perfectly calm and relaxed as stood over her new foal. We left her alone to bond with him and hopefully get a bit of rest. She was certainly going to need it...