The Miniature horse mare's secret
code of honor is as old as the breed itself and is ultimately the breed's
best kept secret.
No Miniature horse mare shall ever produce a foal before it's time. ("It's
time" being determined by the following factors):
1. No foal shall be born until total chaos has been reached by all involved.
Your house must be a wreck, your family hungry and desperate for clean
clothes, and your social life non-existent.
2. Mid-wives must reach the babbling fool status before you foal out.
Bloodshot eyes, tangled hair and the inability to form a sentence mean
your getting close.
3. For every bell, beeper, camera or whistle they attach to you, foaling
must be delayed by at least one day for each item.
4. Vet check, add a day, internal add three. If you hear the words, "She's
nowhere near ready. You'll be fine while I'm away for the weekend."
Wait 12 to 16 hours and pop that baby out!
5.Owner stress must be at an all time high! If you are in the care of
someone else, ten to fifteen phone calls a day is a sign you're getting
close. When you hear the words "I can't take it anymore!" wait
three days and produce a foal.
6.You must keep this waiting game interesting. False alarms are necessary!
Little teasers such as looking at your stomach, pushing your food around
in the bowl and then walking away from it are always good for a rise.
Be creative and find new things to do to keep the adrenaline pumping in
those who wait.
7. The honor of all Miniatures is now in your hands. Use this time to
avenge all of your stable mates. Think about your friend who had to wear
that silly costume in front of those people. Hang onto that baby for another
day. OH, they made him do tricks too! Three more days seems fair. Late
feedings, the dreaded diet, bad haircuts, those awful wormings can also
be avenged at this time.
8. If you have fulfilled all of the above and are still not sure when
to have this foal, listen to the weather forecast on the radio that has
been so generously provided by those who wait. Severe storm warning is
what you're waiting for. In the heart of the storm jump into action! The
power could go out and you could have the last laugh. You have a good
chance of those who wait missing the whole thing while searching for a
flashlight that works!
9.Make the most of your interrupted nights. Beg for food each time someone
comes into the stable to check you. Your stable mates will love you as
the extra goodies fall their way too.
10. Remember, this code of honor was designed to remind man of how truly
special miniature horses are. Do your best to reward those who wait with
a beautiful filly to carry on the miniature horse mare code of honor for
the next generation of those who wait!
Fighting Foaling Frenzy & Surviving Foaling Season ~~
By Kellie S. Sharpe
'Tis the season for the foaling!
It's April, (or it will be anyway) so many mares have already had their
babies and proud owners are shooting roll after roll of film so they'll
have plenty of photographs to brag on. Your own mare is entering her nineteenth
month of pregnancy (you and your vet may disagree on this point, but who
has to live with her?) and you anticipate appearance of the new arrival
almost any time. Whether this is your first or you haven't had a foal
in a while, hopefully this article will help you get keep yourself together.
When you bred your mare last spring
(or the spring before - whenever) foaling seemed too far in the future
to even think about. You knew you mare was pregnant so you treated her
like an expectant mother. Then you began to wonder if you needed to have
the vet check her because she just didn't "look" pregnant. You
waited. Finally you began to notice she was getting a little fuller in
the middle, and lying down to sleep more. She laid her ears back when
you tightened the girth. She developed a taste for Krispy Kreme doughnuts
and frozen enchiladas. Now she threatens to call her lawyer at the sight
of a saddle. She's definitely pregnant and you're absolutely certain she's
going to foal sometime in this decade. Where has the time gone?
As the time draws closer, preparing
a foaling kit is a very good idea. Besides having all the necessities
organized and in one place when needed, it gives the owner something to
do while waiting. A foaling kit can be as simple as a bottle of iodine
in a bucket, or as elaborate as your imagination can make it. If this
is your first attempt at putting together a foaling kit, I'd like to offer
a few suggestions.
For the first-time expectant human,
I recommend taking a day off work to prepare your foaling kit. Plan a
nice outing, and ask a friend to go along. You'll have several stops to
make, and you'll enjoy the company. You can treat yourselves to a nice
lunch, and think up baby names. Make a careful list of what you'll need
the night before - write very clearly because you're likely to be overcome
by excitement and you don't want to have to decipher your own handwriting
when shopping for something vital.
The first thing you need is something
to organize and store your foaling kit in. Experienced "parents"
have had success with items such as a Hefty Bag, or one of those nice
five-gallon buckets with lids like some brands of vitamins come in. If
this is your first, don't try to cram everything you need in one of those
type containers. Buy one of those nice new plastic tack trunks. They're
big enough to hold everything you'll need, plus you can use them afterward
for other things. Anticipating this, be sure and drive the truck when
you go "foaling kit shopping".
With your container ready, it's time
to start putting in the necessities. I recommend starting with the following:
2 large bags Chips Ahoy cookies, 2 2lb. bags M&Ms, 1 large bag potato
chips (your favorite), a bag of large marshmallows, your local Domino's
Pizza phone number, portable phone (for calling Domino's), five- and ten-dollar
bills and loose change (for paying Domino's) and several 3 liter bottles
of Diet Coke (you have to watch your sugar intake at a time like this)*.
It's perfectly all right to store all these items in your container; your
mare will foal during an unexpected blizzard so it will be cold enough
to keep these items without fear of spoilage. "But I live in Florida!"
you say. Doesn't matter. Expect a crowd of surly citrus growers at your
barn on the night of the blessed event. All of Florida will be under six
inches of snow and they'll hold you responsible.
Now that the important items have
been packed away, let's get to the things your mare will need. First,
a tail wrap. Vetrap or a plain track bandage will do nicely. Some people
will tell you the purpose of wrapping a mare's tail is to keep it out
of the way during foaling, and to help keep it a little cleaner. I suppose
there's some validity to that. Mostly the purpose of wrapping her tail
is to give the owner something to do. Wrapping tails is a particularly
good distraction for owners, because you can check them every thirty seconds.
One note of warning: after you've checked the wrap the first 100 times,
it's a good idea to start standing pretty far to the side when checking
it. You mare may feel the need to give you what she may feel is a well-deserved
kick. Please understand how she feels. Mares do not realize they cannot
foal on their own, that they must have your help.
Back to the items that should be
in your foaling kit. Several towels are a good idea. Clean ones, please.
In fact, some "expectant parents" find it's best to just buy
four or five new ones. That way, the newborn has his own towels and won't
ever have to share with anyone else. And no one else will ever have to
share with him. Some people take a certain comfort in knowing that. The
famous (or infamous) bottle of iodine cannot be left out. A large bottle
of iodine can be purchased at your local tack shop. As for the wide-mouthed
jar, like a baby food jar, to dip the navel stump: forget it. If you think
for one moment you are going to get iodine on that baby's belly and not
get any on yourself, you are living in a dream world! Besides, it's such
fun when people say, " My gosh, what happened to your hand? And your
arm? And your FACE!", to be able to grin and reply, "Oh, nothing.
My mare had a foal the other night and I spilled a little iodine.".
They'll be interested, so you'll launch into a dissertation on foaling
which will make them faint after about two hours. A flashlight is a must.
You don't want to turn on the barn lights and cause the baby to jump back
in if he's been peeking out and considering making an appearance. Besides,
without a flashlight you might stumble in the dark barn and fall and knock
yourself unconscious and miss everything. Buy extra batteries.
Your local tack shop will probably
have foaling announcements. They usually come in packages of twelve, with
envelopes. Buy two. You can spend the waiting time addressing the envelopes
and filling in all the information except the date and whether it is a
colt or filly. If you cannot find foaling announcements, just pick up
a couple of packs of baby announcements at your local Hallmark shop. Be
sure and cross out "boy" and "girl", and write in
"colt" or "filly". Otherwise, it startles a recipient
to find out you've had a 95 lb. baby. Be sure to get a big pink or blue
bow for your mailbox. (What's really fun is if you have two mares that
foal within a month or two of each other, and you get a colt and a filly.
It startles passing motorists to see a pink bow on your mailbox only a
short time after seeing a blue one.) Be careful with "It's A Boy"
or "It's A Girl" balloons in the barn. Some mares are firmly
convinced balloons are aliens that have come to earth to round up all
the mares and take them to some strange planet where they'll become school
horses for spoiled six-year- olds.
Don't forget a baby halter. They
come in pink and blue, and have a little strap hanging from the bottom,
theoretically for ease of catching the newborn. Don't be misled by this
strap. Its actual purpose is so the newborn can drag you around the pasture.
Which color should you buy? That's easy; buy one of each. Keep the color
you need, and give the other one to a friend who may not be as well prepared
as you when their mare foals.
Write down your vet's phone number
in a conspicuous place - such as on the inside wall of your barn with
a can of Day-Glo spray paint. I don't care how long you've had his or
her number memorized, you will forget it. It's important to be able to
reach your vet in case of emergency, such as getting up and down repeatedly
after contractions begin, and nothing happening, or obvious abdominal
distress unrelated to foaling. If you experience either of these symptoms,
call your vet immediately. Your farrier's number is not really necessary
- few mares feel the sudden need for shoes right after foaling. Of course,
if she feels very strongly about shoes, I would certainly recommend giving
her whatever she wants.
It is always helpful to know the
signs that foaling is imminent. Any good book on horse care will include
this information, or your vet will be more than happy to discuss it with
you. Basically, when you see a hoof emerge from under the mare's tail,
you can be pretty sure foaling is very close. There are other signs, such
as the worst rainstorm in fifty years blowing up at 8 pm, or an unexpected
visit from relatives you haven't seen in twenty years, but the hoof test
is really the only 100% reliable one I've found. The "waxing over"
thing is okay - if your mare's udder is a little waxy, you can assume
she will foal sometime in the next month or so. That should narrow it
down a bit for you, anyway. Your mare's personality is a good indicator
of how easy or difficult the birth will be. If she is a timid, nervous
mare who shys at everything, she will foal quickly and easily with no
problems. If she's a sturdy, no-nonsense honest mare who'll take you through
a mine field and never blink at the explosions, the foal will be born
upside down and sideways.
Please resist the urge to grab the
foal's front legs and yank it out to find out what it is. Also, resist
the impulse to shove it back in and ask the mare to work on it a little
longer. Foals in the process of being born may not look like your mental
picture of a brand-new baby, especially if you've never seen one. Their
ears are wet and folded back against their heads, and they have an expression
on their faces which seems to say "I have absolutely no idea what
is happening to me, but when I get myself together, I'm sure I won't like
it." When the foal is completely out, try to refrain from gathering
it in your arms and running to the house with it to raise it yourself.
It's a major temptation, I know, but pretty soon it's going to realize
how hungry it is and it's going to want a meal. Then what are you going
to do? Better to leave it with its mother, at least for six months or
so. Then it's yours forever.
Friends and family are going to want
to come over to see the new arrival. If you can get them to wait a day
or so, your mare will really appreciate it. Having a baby is strenuous
business, and she needs a little time to get herself together. Besides,
the baby needs some time to get his eyes working. He may not recognize
someone he's already met if he didn't see them well. Waiting a day or
two before allowing visitors also gives you time to clean up the gruesome
remains of the event. Empty pizza boxes, cookie and M&M bags and cola
bottles scattered throughout the barn detract from the professional image
you work so hard to maintain.
So your long-awaited baby is on the
ground (or standing up). Congratulations! What are you going to do with
it? Do you remember saying nineteen months ago when you first bred your
mare, "I can always sell the baby and get my stud fee back, at least."?
Okay, so write the ad. What are you waiting for? Write it now, and maybe
you can sell it by weaning time.
Oh, what the heck. You can always
decide about selling it later. In fact, it's such a nice baby! Did you
remember to call the stallion owners and tell them it had been born? No?
Then take a good long look at it so you can describe it exactly. Be sure
and look closely at its perfect head, and shoulder angle. That stallion
sure did cross well with your mare, didn't he? In fact, maybe the stallion
owner would be willing to make you a deal on a repeat breeding! Why not!
After all, you've got your foaling kit container and you survived foaling
once! Go for it!
One word of warning: When Domino's arrives with your pizza, don't take your
eyes off the mare for a minute while paying for it. Many unsuspecting owners
have blithely tripped outside to get their pizza and returned to the barn
five minutes later to find the mare smirking and the foal standing and enjoying
his first meal. Besides being disappointed that you missed the whole thing,
you'll forget about your pizza and the dogs will get it. Then you'll have
to call Domino's again and wait another thirty minutes!