It was an early morning phone call that started the day. I was informed that my mare had been let out of her stall during the night and had helped herself to several samples of grains and various hays in the aisle and feed-room. According to the caller Bessie seemed to be fine, but just to be sure I got dressed and woke my nephew, Jeff. We drove to the stables and put Bess out in a paddock where we could easily observe her from the comfort of the truck; then we settled into our seats and munching on Little Caesar’s five dollar pizza, we watched.
Bessie is a nine year old Paint mare due to foal in early April. She is quite small due to mal-nutrition during her growth years, she is only about 14.2 even though her sire stood around 16 hands and her dam was not short. Her belly on this bright mid-March morning was huge, and my concern about the size of the foal surfaced again. As we watched we grew more concerned and confused. Bessie was nervous; pacing the fence and tossing her head. Was this colic? It didn’t look like colic to me; it looked more like she really wanted to go back inside. So we took her back in, laid out clean straw and waited. She calmed down a little but not enough, so I checked her teats, which is not an easy task as anyone who even looked like they were going to touch her bag was the target of a good swift kick. There was no change, no signs of labor at all other than her nervous pacing.
We went back to have a seat in the truck and allow Bessie to have a quite place to calm down. An hour later we went back to check on her again and I decided to take another quick peek at her bag and there they were two tiny little pearls of milk….. The game was on. I sent my sister back to town to grab sleeping bags and something for dinner, it looked to be a long night and we wanted to be prepared. While she was gone I made a few phone calls to others who had been awaiting this birth to inform them that it was near.
Expecting the birth to take place sometime between midnight and dawn, we relaxed and puttered quietly around the barn. But before my sister could return with the supplies, and before anyone else could get there; Bessie gave two good strong pushes. I shouted for Jeff and he ran back in just in time for Bess to lie down in the pile of straw. After another push we saw one foot emerge and knew that the other had to be extracted before she could proceed. Hands were inserted where they don’t normally go, and the other foot and the little one’s nose were located. The foot was drawn out to join the other and with a few gentle and well timed tugs from Jeff; the little one was born within just a few minutes.
Now I had read and been told that it would take a newborn up to two hours to try to stand up, and to not worry about it if it took that long. But this little girl was on her feet just ten minutes after her birth. She found her feet, and though she spent some time looking like “Bambi” on ice, it didn’t take her too long to work her little feet under her and have a stable footing. I guess this is one difference between a horse and a mule.
Dreamer was born at 7:40 pm on March 16th, she is the prettiest little molly mule I have ever laid eyes on.