Animals contain surprises
May 4, 2011
The high-powered quarter horse mare had been to the breeding barn, and was bred to an outstanding stallion. Everything seemed fine.
She colicked, and they ended up taking her to the veterinarian. He got that problem solved, and while he was at it he checked, and pronounced her “open,” no baby in there. Extremely disappointed, they hauled her home.
Before much longer the mare developed a hernia. Back to the vet they went, and he surgically fixed it. Again, he checked and pronounced the mare “open.”
I’m not identifying the couple who own this mare (to protect everyone) but they treated that mare as if she were an invalid for several months after her second surgery. She finally got to be her perky self again, much to their relief.
Every horse breeder knows the words to the song that goes, “Don’t ever assume everybody is healthy. That’s when they’ll either hurt themselves or get sick.” This is especially true of championship-bred horses. They have so much action they easily can get themselves in big trouble.
Months later, as the couple watched the mare eat at feeding time, they agreed that if they didn’t know better they would say she was pregnant. She really looked pregnant. Or was it another problem?
One nice late spring day the husband loaded a different horse for a trip to the vet. After he left, our mare began acting really strange — stomping around, putting her nose next to her belly, pawing the ground.
The wife, watching, got worried. She called her husband — as we wives do — and said, “You messed up. You shoulda taken this mare with you. She’s not doing well at all.”
The husband — as husbands do — thought she was being overly dramatic and the mare probably was all right. Still, as he thought about it a bit more he decided to go back home and pretend to check on the situation.
Before he could get home his wife called, frantic. “You’d better hurry. It looks like she’s having a baby.”
When he pulled in at the barn, his wife came charging out. This time she was smiling. Yep, they had a new foal all right. And it was perfectly fine.
They took several photos of the mare and her new baby, and gave one to the veterinarian. He was really embarrassed, of course.
A month or two later, a fellow came into the vet’s office hauling a mare with a problem needing surgery. He said the mare was bred and asked the vet, “Can we do surgery if the mare is pregnant?”
The vet smiled and showed the fellow the photo of our subject mare and her foal and said, “This mare had surgery twice while pregnant. Here’s the result.”
He didn’t mention “the rest of the story,” though.
The animals in our care keep us humble. Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out they remind us in countless ways that we probably know very little.