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May 7, 2012: And Hrimfara Makes Five

The big event occurred last night. Pete and I estimate that Signy foaled around midnight. He went down shortly after, just to see how Signy was doing. He came back up to the house and said that Signy had her baby, and that it was up and nursing. I said to myself we ought to have known that she’d foal fairly soon. We did a calcium test at 8 p.m. It indicated that Signy would foal in the next 48 hours. I went down to the shelter at 10 p.m. and noticed waxing on her teats.

I’d repeatedly gone over the three stages of labor with my animal behavior students. I did a PowerPoint presentation, showed You Tube videos, and assigned reading. I told them parturition was an explosive event – I had no idea really, that it could be this explosive.

Pete and I were both on hand for the final stage of the three stages of labor. Hrimfari was already up and had nursed. It was dark, but we could tell the foal was a pinto. I checked and determined that she’s was a filly. Siggi, Raudi, and Tinni were on hand; they watched the proceedings from the far side of the gate. We put Siggi and Raudi in the large pen, and Tinni spent the night rapt, ears pricked forward, taking in what he could in the adjacent pen.

Hrimfari at 14 hours old
Hrimfara at 14 hours old

Hrimfari's first trip out into the large pen
Hirmfari's first trip into the large pen

We had, earlier, moved the truck so that the bed was facing the shelter. And that’s where we spent the night. Hrimfari expelled the meconium, the black, tarry, fecal material, almost immediately. I was concerned because Signy had not immediately expelled the placenta. Pete repeatedly told me that this would occur between one and three hours – it took approximately three hours. I was also concerned because I wasn’t quite sure at first that the foal was getting a hold of the teat. Pete assured me that indeed, she was getting her colostrum.

Hrimmi was very active last night, far more active than any foal I’ve ever previously interacted with. This morning, first light, I woke (from dozing) to see her looking directly at me.

We did what was required this morning – I spread out and checked the placenta – it was intact. And I gave Hrimfari a much-needed enema. Only a real horse person would want the details – but it was impressive – a goodly amount of poop popped out quickly.

Signy has remained cool, calm, collected throughout – and has been doing what she does best – watching out for her newborn. Pete’s remained cool, calm collected, and has been doing what he does best – assisting me with the numerous details that follow an event like this. And me? I’m doing what I do best, attempting in writing and photographs to record what’s going on.

And what am I, who waited so long for this event now thinking? To tell you the truth, I’m both relieved and awed. I’ve now cried tears of relief and gratitude because I didn’t want to lose Signy. She’s my beloved lucky Irish horse. I told everyone who asked that I’d never breed Raudi –and I’m going to hold true to this. Dr. Sandi Ferris had once said in class that we ought not to breed our best loved mares; meaning, there is always the distinct possibility that things can go wrong. People are continuing to breed horses without taking into account that there are now too many horses out there. I’m glad to have the horses I had and did not need any more. Signy’s coming home from our trip pregnant was indeed a surprise. But I’m very excited now that Hrimfari is here. It’s truly a horse person’s dream to be a part of something as monumental as this.

It’s also cool that Pete is as into this and as concerned as I am about all of our animals’ wellbeing. Bringing a foal into the world and raising it is a huge undertaking that takes two people to do it right.

Dr. Wellington will be by this afternoon and do a routine health check. I suppose that after I will rest a little easier.

Nexg: 151. 05/8/12: The Unbearable Lightness of Being