You all know Taylor Brooke, (TeeBee), our young bay mare with a spotted blanket. She was due to foal on June 26th. This would be her second foal. All appeared normal. She was in good weight and her udder had begun enlarging. But i did not feel she was close to foaling. I arrived at the barn to find her wet with sweat and dirt from rolling, looking much like she had coliced in the early hours. But of course, being so close to foaling.. i suspected labor.
I hosed her off, gave her an injection of banamine for her pain, and put her in the round pen where i
continued to observe her. She nibbled grass and for a while, lay down frequently.. but soon that stopped and she looked comfortable. I did see that she was leaking fluid and a bit of blood, so i felt that her water had broken, but labor had stopped. I took that to be a bad sign. I checked inside her with a clean hand and felt no foal in her birth canal. Until nightfall, TB nibbled hay and walked around in circles in the foalin stall with no more contractions or laying down. I lay on the cot in our tack room and napped and watched her on the foaling camera all afternoon. Evening chores still needed to be done and the other mares and foals cared for. I set about the work until the sun went down.
I returned to the barn at 9 pm after dark. TB was on her side on the floor of the stall pushing. She must have been waiting for the sun to set to resume trying to deliver her foal. She pushed hard and I checked inside of her with my hands and felt no nose, no feet.. no foal. Again.. a bad sign after an hour of pushing. Another hour passed and finally I felt the foal. I could not identify the body parts. There was just a smooth hard cylinder of baby. I thought he must be breech, coming backward.. There were no legs to pull forward, nothing to hold on to, and I tried over and over to reach in deeply and grab anything I could tie a string to and bring forward. TB strained mercilessly over and over. She screamed out with her straining. It was horrible to witness, and to be unable to help her. Between attempts to pull her foal, I had begun to call vets as soon as soon as I realized we had a dystocia. Nobody answered. I got a recording and left a message. Finally I reached one, and he was not on call and refused to come. I called two equine hospitals but they had no one in my area. No one would come to assist. I even considered euthanasia because I knew TB would die over night if this continued.
At 11:30 pm, I finally put a rope on the mare, who had not stood up in many hours.. and commanded (begged) her to come with me. Amazingly she struggled to her feet and staggered out the door. My trailer sits in the barnyard open and parked so that the step up is minimal. Taylor Brooke had never been trailered anywhere since the day she arrived as a one year old, yet she crossed the dark barnyard in terrible pain, loaded into the trailer and stood there. I was amazed. I closed her in, backed my truck up to the trailer. struggled in the dark to get it hooked up. We were on the road to Hagyard Equine which is an hour away by 11:45. I called ahead to let them know we were on our way. They assembled a team to meet us. Of course, I had to stop for gas, and my clothes were covered in blood from my chest to me shoes. I made quite a picture at the pump.
At 12:45 am, i turned the truck and trailer into the clinic by the KY Horse Park. A young lady with a flashlight ran out to direct me to drive to the surgical suite. I pulled up right next to it and 5 or 6 people including the surgeon were waiting. We coaxed TB off the trailer and into the padded room with concrete floor. Dr. Werner was both kind to me and very much in charge of the situation and the team. She palpated the mare and we found the poll of the foal's head at the vulva,with chin to chest and legs extended back into the mare. He was stuck solid like a brick. She told me they would try to get him out without injuring her reproductive tract. The team sedated TB, lined up on her side and 10 hands lay her down. .They strapped all four feet in nylon with chains attached, and lifted her upside down hanging by her feet with a winch. Mats were slid under the backbone, neck and head. The winch raised her hind end, and the doctor pushed the baby back down manually with a pump of lubricant flowing into her to help . Dr. Werner then put chains on each leg, a snare on the foal’s chin, and brought all three body parts forward. They then lowered the mare’s hind end. She and two assistants pulled on the chains. It took all of them to get the foal out, and I realized how futile my hours of trying had been, nor could any vet have helped her at my farm. I was in the room the entire time, leaning on a wall trying to control a spell of shaking that had taken over me from too much effort and too little food for too long.
Once the foal was out, it was obvious he had been dead for days. His placenta was eroded and looked decomposed. He had been dead before birth thus he did not get in proper position for birth.
I could not really tell you what color he was and I don't know the sex. We sent the body for necropsy.
TB stayed at Hagyard for two more days. She was on IV antibiotics and her uterus was flushed multiple times, while they kept her for observation. She is a special mare with lots of personality and affection for her humans. I am so glad she survived. I can only imagine how she felt going into that strange place in terrible pain in the middle of the night, and waking up alone in a foreign stall without pain, but without a foal. Dr. Werner called the next morning to say TB was tired from her "rough day" yesterday. That was the understatement of the century! She returned home and was depressed for a couple of days, but soon began life again on the farm. Mares are amazingly strong and resilient.