Deacons Gate Shires first filly – arriving unexpectedly 8 days early, Tuesday 15/11/11 5.36pm
As it happened I was actually at home struggling to get over a stinking migraine that was refusing to budge and as you do when not feeling the best, I was staging the chores for the evening feeds in order to get them all done and keep my head from exploding. So I had started with the big girls, Duchess and Pearl who eagerly cantered toward their bins awaiting their feeds… all good, Duchess despite twitching and stamping in an alarming manner, woofed down everything, licked the dish clean (nothing gets in the way of Duchess and her food) then promptly turned around and dropped to the ground streaming milk everywhere. I was a bit shocked and in the evening light it was hard to tell, but with a panic check, it looked like she’d already streamed the colostrum down her legs and it was then I’ve connected the twitching and stamping with labour and thought heck, she’s 8 days early, I’m on me own, she’s sitting in the middle of a poo pile (of course the sterile paddock, previously prepared for this birth, is on the other side of the property) and I need to call the vet.
So thinking there was loads of time I raced inside took two more panadol and collected the mobile and raced back outside…. I was speaking to the vet as I was walking who was saying sounded like Duchess was certainly going into labour and to keep an eye out for the classic signs…. well no need to keep an eye out as I was walking toward Duchess the waters broke fountaining out like a milky shower… vet says, if she’s not birthed the foal within the hour to call back…. I stayed long enough to check that there were two hooves and a little nose presenting so she was on track, all was going well….. back inside to collect the camera thinking, no worries…plenty of time – the vet said within the hour…. excitedly, as I raced inside I was thinking, finally we get to be there for the birth of one of our foals… got back outside 3 minutes later to find Duchess had already popped Cerefin out and she was sitting up inside the sac waggling her head about… damn it!
I was relieved the birth was quick and problem free but of course nothing ever goes to plan and here I was in the fading light without help, I couldn’t get hold of Dale at work and the neighbours seemed not to be home – the foal was certainly healthy and alive and Duchess was licking away the membrane as expected. So I started snapping off photos and kept ringing… anybody…
Thankfully it turns out the neighbours were home so after a shout they headed over to capture the moment and assist as Cerefin was not getting up as she should be… Dale’s work phone was still not being answered. More photos… Cerefin was now cleaned up and the placenta had been expelled, checked but it was evident Cerefin was definitely not able to get up herself. Her pasterns were so loose the poor thing couldn’t sort out the coordination of those long long legs. Between Jan and myself and Alex on camera duty, we struggled to lift and position her to feed – no success, it was dark by this time and bending over to lift her was making my head pound and the nausea was back…. Neighbours were terrific, loads of support not that any of us could do anything..
Hours later decided to call in the vet to advise and to check Cerefin over – on her arrival, decisions were made to drag Cerefin to the stall previously arranged… the cavalry also arrived at this moment with Dale finally getting home to man handle the foal to the appointed position – I felt much better knowing Dale was home and the vet had given Cerefin the all clear despite not being able to get up – this would pass she just needed to gather strength.
So with the neighbours tarp to the ready and Dale and the vet providing the brute force – Cerefin was transported, Duchess only stepped on her twice with the fracas passing the colt’s yard, but all was good, woke Cerefin up with a rude shock but she was still alive… we’ve got her up and organised for a feed with a fretting mum bursting at the seams. The vet left us to it and the neighbours retired leaving Dale & I to settle in for a long night of assisted hourly feeds.
Cerefin is a strong foal and her long legs have her at 10hh at birth (10.2hh when fully upright) and we reckon around 85/90 kilos so she isn’t easy to lift. But through the night she managed to stand long enough to feed hourly – she can stand fine it’s the getting up that proves difficult. Today she was walking about strongly and has better control of her front feet but she has only managed to get herself up once, so Dale is on night watch again tonight to ensure she keeps up with her feeds and Duchess doesn’t step on her – not the best mum is our Duchess but she is getting better. After our long sleepless night of course we were confronted with a very hot day… 35degrees making Cerefin and mum very hot so it’s been cold showers and wet towels all day. We decided to give her a plasma transfusion to compensate for the loss of colostrum to be on the safe side and her progress is improving steadily. She’ll be a cracker once she gets her legs sorted, she’s a very determined foal – Dale and I are hard pressed to stop her once she’s set on her heading despite her wobbles.
Today is day five and Cerefin has accommodated a stream of visitors into her world. Her movement has finally caught up despite the heat, she’s up and down at regular times for a feed and is spending more and more time running about exploring her world – well as far as mum will let her. She has a few scrapes but these will heal in no time, she is very strong and a determined filly, once she’s set on her path it is very hard to physically change her direction and it already hurts if she steps on your toes…. look out – Cerefin is here!
We’ve managed to catch up on our lost sleep and it’s a relief knowing Duchess can take back the foal watch duties from here on in… Enjoy the photos