Monday, March 7, 2011

Mouthy Monday

Emilie sent this in. She has written about Pearl before, her standardbred rescue mare. Get out your hankies.

Please you guys, please don't send me links to your stories. I'm not smart enough to get them pasted up. I spent 20 minutes trying to get CDN Cowgirl's story, "Last Ride" posted and had to give up. Sigh. If you resend it I'll post it, it's a great story.

Pearl's Story

We are now about mid-June, Pearl is about ready to foal, it's only a matter of time. She has some milk in her udder, her hind end is relaxed and as smooshy as Jello. I am getting excited, we have no idea of her breeding date or even why she was bred if they sent her to auction not even mid-term! All we know is that the sire is a black Standardbred... pretty popular color if I may say! I never did find the stallion.

We did find the registration for both the rescues, Peg and Pearl.
I was worried, I could barely sleep at night, what if the baby was still-born, what if one or both wouldn't make it!? I loved Pearl and didn't want to lose her and I was totally ready to take on a foal, my first but not the first I had handled and trained. We spent a month (as soon as we got her) feeding supplements to Pearl, giving her fresh cut alfalfa to increase her milk production, taking absolute care of her in hopes that the foal would make it, despite the complete lack of nutrition he had endured while Pearl was sent to auction for meat.

I knew the birth was nearing due to the signs but I had no idea if the foal would be premature or if she had kept it longer due to all of the stress (being thin, new farm, etc.) since we didn't have the breeding date.

The next morning, we woke early in hopes to go meet Pearl and the new foal, we had checked on Pearl during the night, but nothing. Needless to say, I didn't sleep that night. We got to the barn all happy and smiling... to find Pearl... as big as ever! So we checked her and told her she had played a good trick on us!

I had to leave the farm because my parents own a cottage and people wanted to rent it for the summer, so we went and cleaned the whole thing, top to bottom.

We were nearing lunch time when my sister-in-law comes over. It's Pearl, she foaled at 11:20 am on June 20th 2009 and she was fine... Since my sister-in-law is a non-horsey person (I mean not AT ALL!). I saved my questions for myself. I finished up and went over to the barn about an hour and a half after the foal was born, I couldn't get there fast enough! When I first saw him, it broke my heart. He was a cute pure black little colt with no markings... the REAL black stallion. No doubt he was a pure Standardbred. He was thin and weak. When I rounded the corner of the barn to see him, he was lying there, exhausted, directly in the harsh sun.

Right there, he looked normal, a little thin, but I expected that. He was born inside and had managed to make it outside. But the frogs of his hooves were unused, which led me to believe that he had not yet gotten up to nurse. We poked him and encouraged him to stand, to no avail. That was a red flag. I then thought he wouldn't make it to nightfall.

His front and back legs were weak and swayed from side to side when he tried to get up... he just wasn't strong enough.

He had long legs and would be a tall guy. I wasn't going to let him die before my eyes. I went and got my boyfriend and we lifted him to his legs. He was really unsteady and fell over many times, so we held him up to nurse. At that point, mom wasn't having any of it and wouldn't let us near enough to have the foal nurse, even on a lead she wouldn't tolerate him nursing. So I went and got a bottle, milked Pearl (she was fine with that!) and proceeded to feed the colt by bottle. I managed to get enough milk in his belly to keep him going for a little while. He could now stand for short periods of time. We were happy!

But that was short lived.. he would be so close to being able to nurse and mom would move away and he would just fall down again. That night, I gave him a shot of vitamins... Broke my heart to have to give a shot to such a small little guy. I noticed a deformity in his back and back legs immediately, but I thought that it would settle itself and that it was caused by him being so leggy in such a small space during his development and by being so weak on top of that! Pearl is hardly 14.3 hh... clearly this guy is to be much taller than that. I still think it was caused by him being in too narrow of a place to develop normally.

We were getting up at night to make sure he nursed, until one day, he could nurse on his own! We were thrilled! He was now nursing, walking around and was able to get up and lay down on his own. It was time to turn him out! He could run, but those back legs always kept him dragging behind, at least he wasn't falling over!

On the night of June 28th, we had a rodeo in our small town, we were all attending. When we got home, it was about midnight and we decided to make our way to the barn to check on the colt. We found him laying in the shelter, with mom, Peg and Dandy all watching over him. He was still weak and thin, but he seemed to be resting calmly.

So anyways, that night, he seemed fine, we didn't make him get up because he was sleeping when we found him there and felt a bit bad that we had disturbed him. So we went to bed and I remember clearly saying to my guy that I thought he would make it (after spending 8 days dangling!).

The next morning, my guy was up early and went out to check the horses. I remember it was a foggy morning. He came back and told me that the little colt wasn't doing well and that he was dying. I couldn't believe it, jumped out of bed into clothes that I probably had worn before (I didn't really care!!!) and made my way to the field. The horses were WAY at the other end (we have a 40 acre pasture) and when they spotted me, Dandy came running over, screaming and Pearl came half the way, quickly going back to the foal. I knew they were trying to tell me something was wrong. I slowly walked over...

My heart was in my throat, I couldn't see the foal, but could tell from Pearl where he was lying. I got close and spotted him... he was lying flat on his side, breathing hard and groaning. I talked to him calmly and petted him a bit. I lifted his head and he just couldn't hold it up. I started worrying that he had broken his neck running and falling. But I palpated everything and it was all clear, all legs were ok... nothing apparent. We called a vet as soon as we found him, but our vet is a 2 hour drive away... and that is if he is not in another emergency situation. He was finishing something up and coming right over... I had no hope. I called my mom crying, I was hysterical. She made me feel a bit better. I returned to the field slowly and saw both Dandy and Pearl running over... Pearl came right to the gate, whinnied a deep bone chilling whinny, she had a look in her eyes saying "Help me! Follow me!", then she quickly turned back and ran to her colt. Dandy walked the whole way with me and I had the most sour feeling, heart in my throat, tearing up and basically just going crazy. I found the poor little colt lying there, still breathing hard but the breaths were far apart. I decided to stay with him.

I sat beside him, in the damp grass, petting him and comforting him. I told him it was ok to go (even if I didn't feel I was ready for him to), that I'd be ok and that I would look after his mom, that Pearl would have a forever home with us and that there was nothing to be worried about. I told him that I loved him deeply and that I would never forget him, his little whinnies when he heard our voices and his sweet face. I was broken and tears were running down my cheeks. I soon noticed that he wasn't breathing anymore, his little mount had opened a bit, so I stuck my finger in... there was nothing, not a blink of an eye, nothing. I was devastated. I gave him a last kiss and told him goodbye, but at that time I was truly crying and sobbing. I remember telling him not to go yet, but it was too late. I had to live with this, my first horse lost, one I had took very special care of and that I'd spent more than a few sleepless nights worrying over. He died at about 10:00 am on June 29th, 2009. I took hold of my emotions and went to get my guy (he didn't want to see the foal die). We took the foal away, mom and Dandy (Dandy was the guardian (aunt) of the colt) screamed the most heart breaking whinny and ran to the gate trying to see where we were taking him. The foal was buried and the vet hadn't even been near. I doubt he could've done anything at that point, so I called and cancelled.

Somehow, the horses knew exactly what had happened. They kept looking around for the little one and Pearl stayed away from us for a few days. We were heart broken for a week solid and we still can't mention the little guy without tearing up. I still have tears running down my cheeks as I write this. The colt is buried on our farm, not far from the pasture. The 9 days that he spent with us will be forever engraved in my heart.

I will never forget him, he was my very first foal (from one of my horses) and he had a forever home with us from the moment his mom got to our farm. We did the best that we could to help him. He didn't seem to be suffering, he just seemed weak and the deformity only added to the problem. He took a piece of my heart with him when he passed. We miss him a lot. I hope he is running with the wind in the greener pastures.

Love you Little Guy (We had named him Black Jack)


  1. Ah, so heartbreaking! but thank you for taking Mom in, and giving him a home, for however short a time. If he had been born in the holding pens, he would have died the first day. At least he had 9 days of green grass, playing in fields, and love.

  2. Thanks Shadow for cheering me up... it's hard even today to read this and thinking about him always brings tears to my eyes. Those poor horses had to endure so much!

    Pearl is doing as good as ever today, she spent the last months of Summer learning to ride and carry a rider. She is awesome and you would never think that she is 20 years old. She runs and bucks with the young ones and can be a handful at times (chasing cows and anything that moves...). She is very high strung and I don't think I will be able to break her from her herdbound-ness, but we don't need to ride her alone and she is awesome when there is a buddy.

    Ironically enough, she is nice and fat today and seems to enjoy every bit of life, she puts a smile on my face all the time and I love her with all of my heart.

  3. So sorry about your foal - that's heartbreaking. I know you did the best for him that you could.

    Happy to hear Pearl is happy and healthy.

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