Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Cowboy Chistmas Colt

The first time Mr. D was bred was unexpected. Horny as hell and tired of waiting for me to arrange his loss of equine virginity (scheduled later that spring), D decided to mount a mare he had nickered after for some time the second she showed some interest in him.

Now since this was his first time (that we knew of), he appears to have skipped all the necessary steps of filly foreplay after she had initially presented him with her tentative interest. So there was some considerable conflict (the sound of which brought us running to the pasture) before she finally agreed to the consummation of the act. And the presence of two other more experienced stallions in the pasture likely contributed to his rushed sense of ‘carpe marum’.

Now this mare was in season in January only because a top stallion was in LA that month. That was because before his arrival, Tom's pard had kept her stall lit up like Dodger Stadium to trick her into thinking it was already the spring breeding season. But she still demonstrated no interest in the stallion when he was shown to her. The rejected suitor left and she was turned out to the pasture to graze upon the new winter grass (since this was the San Fernando and not the Owens Valley).

So whether it had just taken her a little more time for her hormones to kick in - or if she was really just waiting for Mr. D before she would present herself, we would never know. But we did realize, after doing some math – that we might have a proverbial Christmas foal later that year.

Eleven months later, on the morning of Christmas Eve, she was heavy with foal. A 'foal monitor' was in place so whomever was in the house - where Tom's pard and two of the others stayed when in LA - could hear her if she was in distress.

That morning I trailered over Mr. D from Lance's so D could join her and us as we all gathered together to exchange gifts and have an early dinner before retiring to our own families on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. I departed before dusk, but left D in the stall next to her birthing pen to keep her company.

I got the call before eleven o’clock that night. Her increasing anxiety – which included snapping at Mr. D who then needed to be moved away from her – was a sign she was about to foal. Living on the far side of the Valley, I was among the last to arrive. Her water had broken, but no foal was appearing and she kept getting to her feet. Messages were left with the services of every vet we knew, but no one was calling back. It was clear she was about to drop a Christmas Eve foal, but that it wasn’t going to be coming out easily.

Now normally, as owner of the mare, Tom’s pard would have been attending to her, but as this was my first foal, I was to be the one assigned to assist her in the birth, this all arranged before we knew this it would be a complicated birth, this being her first foal.

D's vocal discomfit about not seeing what was going on made her more nervous so I let him out of his stall to stand and watch behind us. This calmed him down and he quietly nickered to her whenever she seemed in pain the most.

She finally appeared to try hard to deliver, but nothing came out. I had watched and helped in a number of deliveries to help prepare for this night so I stuck my hands into her to feel what was happening with the foal. But instead of the hooves or legs I should have felt, I felt only other parts of the body, including what felt distressingly like a nose.

As the others looked at each other, each knowing I was not remotely equipped to handle this my first time out the chute (so to speak), Lance and Tom exchanged glances and Lance gave a slight nod of assent to Tom. It made sense for Tom to be the one to intercede because were we still technically at odds with each other, so he being a ‘jerk’ and taking over for me would be expected where as Lance doing so would indicate a lack of faith by him in my non-existent abilities – plus while Tom had the biggest paws of any of us – he also had the skilled hands of a surgeon. He was easily the most qualified of us to handle a difficult birth.

Tom then made a point of shoving me aside and announced it was time for someone who knew what the hell he was doing to take over. Tom started by further opened her up with his hands to figure out what kind of mess she had gotten herself into while he muttered one of his more typical expletives.

He then got his arms almost shoulder deep into her when he uttered a convoluted seven or eight word expletive I had never heard him utter before. This indicated the seriousness of the situation. He then started to work the foal around into proper position as Lance explained to me that Tom had to first shove the foal back up the birth canal into her uterus – a couple times, it turned out - to try and reposition it while the others worked to keep her calm so that she would not move or kick Tom while he quietly (and melodically and soothingly) cursed her for making him do this, cursed Mr. D for knocking her up and cursed me for existing.

Finally, after several false starts, the first part of the foal began to appear to our quiet cheers as Tom was drenched with sweat. The rest of the foal’s body ever so slowly made itself out, not quite in the right order, until the rest of the foal suddenly popped out and Tom fell on his back, the foal partially on top of him.

The tension had been so great, we all broke out into laughter. Tom, as attending vet, then pronounced the foal a colt, even though he had been repeatedly predicting – due to its inability to decide if it wanted to leave the womb or not – that it had to be a filly.

The mare - by then totally exhausted - finally stood and began to lick her new colt while the rest of us stepped away to allow them to bond. Mr. D then tried to approach the colt to inspect him, but she firmly warned him away until he nuzzled and nickered at her enough to sneak in a couple of a couple quick licks of his new son – typical of the always totally unhorse like behavior of my totally unhorse like horse. D then walked over to my side to rest his head on my shoulder while we watched them bond until their son stood and took his first steps upon the hay of his early morning manger.

Oh, and one more thing.

After we had all laughed at Tom's pratfall, Tom's pard announced it was 12:05 Christmas day.

We had a Cowboy Christmas Colt.

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