Raising A Foal: Episode 1 - The Birth

Raising A Foal: Episode 1 – The Birth

If you’re in the market for buying a horse as an inexperienced person, you will have to be on the lookout for all kinds of horse related problems. There are many health issues to consider, character issues, spiritual issues, etc, and many things are not as they seem to be.  I remember I even caught a bad case of Ringworm (Tinea corporis) from one visit….!! (That one had me busy for 4 months)!

And, most important,  in a relative short time, one has to find out if a nice and fitting connection with the new horse is possible.  From what I have experienced, the “horse trade business” is a business with a lot of (let’s say it nicely) dishonesty. This is probably one of the reasons why good horses switch owners so often, and some end up being recycled as food…

Well, you get the picture, so after a long time, we were very happy when we found a beautiful brown horse, relatively affordable, and in good physical health. (she was spiritually almost killed, which explained why a horse like this seemed so extremely calm, but I’ll discuss that in some other article another time).

What we didn’t know, was that she was pregnant!!! Then, it was not visible at all. And yes, the seller knew about this, because, later he told us she had been taken by a stallion twice. He even remembered the date!

Just before she gives birthFirst signs:
In the late winter she started to “fill up” and it became harder and harder to fit the saddle,  we even had to buy some of those girth extenders. Our stable master told us that “newbies” usually feed their horses too much, so we cut back on the food in steps, and gave her plenty of exercise, but that didn’t help at all!

And when the blacksmith saw her again after a few months, he suggested she might be pregnant…   So we bought ourselves a “Wee-foal-checker”, a urine sample tester, and yes she was!!!! OOOHHHH! Now what?

Well, first, we put her back on her regular diet, and contacted the previous owner. After pushing him, he finally admitted it, and told us that the foal would be expected in October / November.

In springtime she went into the field with the other horses, looking more round and beautifully healthy every day.  In the start of June, she started to show signs that the milk process was “coming on-line”, so we were afraid that there would be something going wrong. After careful examination, all seemed okay, so we contacted the seller once more and the bastard (oops, sorry for the word) admitted that the foal would be expected soon. Till today I don’t understand why he kept lying…

The Birth:
On June 13th it became clear that she would be expected to deliver within 24-48 hours, so we kept her in the pasture adjacent to the others, close to the barn, and we went to check on her every few hours. I remember like the day of yesterday, on June 14th round 22:00 in the evening I suddenly “shocked up” out of my doings, and HAD to go see Avanti RIGHT NOW, like an urge or something burning inside me…

And yes, when I came to the pasture, she walked over to me, as if she had expected me, her body was steaming hot, milk was dripping, and I knew she would deliver anytime now, so we walked calmly (she went freely with me, totally NO insisting from my side)  to the barn, where we had made a comfortable and safe place for her. On the way over she calmly kept walking with me (incredible!!!).
We were almost there, when my daughter told me she broke her water, and she thought she saw little hooves!!! But Avanti just kept on going all by herself, so full of trust, and we safely reached the stable.
I kneeled beside her, whilst my daughter used her cell phone to alert all the others, and after 10 minutes her foal was born!

AvantiHis name would be Azzari. We had read about the things that were very important, and together with the experienced stable master we freed the head of the foal from the birth skin, so it could breathe freely, and separated the umbilical cord after it had stopped it’s function.  The stable master disinfected the severed connection,  we took care that the umbilical cord was not stepped upon, and after about 20 minutes, when the placenta was finally ejected, we checked if it was complete. It was complete, so all was well!

We stayed with them, to see if the foal would stand up and start to drink the first milk. The first milk is essential and irreplaceable, full of antibodies and all kinds of healthy stuff. I noticed that Avanti was a wonderful mother, and she welcomed Azzari into the world with all kinds op previously unheard soft nickering sounds… She was so tender to Azzari, and she was totally comfortable with us around her, as if she was celebrating her new motherhood with us.

In the meantime many children and friends started to visit our stable (it was round midnight!!!)  Finally, after one hour and a half, or two,  Azzari could stand long enough to have a drink, and he DRANK!…
After that we all went home to leave them in peace.

The next morning early, we went to see them again, all was well, and both greeted us with nickering sounds! OOHH, suddenly it sank in, we had 2 horses from now on!
It was wonderful mild sunny weather, and the stable master suggested we turn them out into the paddock together right away. And off they went, in a safe, well fenced paddock, together, to discover the world….

_D7C0841 1024But now, the hard part would come, said the others. Will you sell him, if so, when? Right now, later, or after a few years? Or, keep him? Can you afford it, Do you know what you’re doing?  Can you raise him, can you constrain a stallion when he gets bigger???

We got all kinds of this type of talk, and I thought about it, but I just couldn’t let him go. And we still have him.
The journey continues from here, in the next episode……

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About the author

Paul Sloot

Born in Sydney Australia, I now live in the the north of Holland and speak Dutch, English and German. I'm married with a son and a daughter and am also blessed with 2 horses… I work 50% of the time as a fraud-inspector for the local government, and for the other 50% I am a photographer. You can view a selection of my work on my. Flickr stream.


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