For those of you following along on my Facebook and Instagram accounts, you know that we saved a pregnant mare from slaughter two and a half months ago at my ranch. We have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of her foal for ten long weeks, and now – as of April 27th at 9 pm – we think we are mere days away.
I can’t even describe what I’m feeling now.
I didn’t go through an excitement phase when we first got her. I don’t think most of us at the ranch did. When I found out about the mare – Rain – she was 36 hours away from slaughter. The owner of the ranch and I were so scared for her and desperate to get her out of the hands of her kill buyer that honestly, when we brought her through the gates, I couldn’t be excited for the new beginning we were going to witness. All I felt was relief. Baby? I constantly wondered as I’d look up and see her eating contentedly in her stall. What baby? All I could think about for a long time was how close we’d come to not being able to save her.
The vet came out to examine Rain a few days after we got her and said she hoped she wasn’t pregnant, as we had been told, on the grounds that Rain was too skinny. After an examination, however, the vet confirmed she was. I and one of the volunteers that had stayed for the visit actually jumped up and down and shrieked. But again – all I really felt in place of happy anticipation was relief.
Over the past few weeks, Rain gained a lot – a LOT – of weight. Soon it became pretty obvious that she was eating for two. Not to mention, she sure got comfortable in her new home considering she’s learned to yell at anyone passing for food!
A few weeks ago we had our former vet and one of our dearest friends come out to visit. He kindly looked over Rain for us and gave us more information about newborn foals and advice about what needs to be done when he/she gets here than we could have ever thought we needed. I took notes about what to do with the placenta, how to make sure the baby passes meconium and what to do if he/she doesn’t, and the type of Chlorhexidine we need to dip the baby’s navel.
And these past few days? I swear Rain got bigger whenever I turned around.
Last week we set up our baby camera that connects to our smartphones and tablets via a free app (head over to the Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary Facebook page if you want to access it, too!). The three of us that will be present for the birth (the owner, the other ranch manager, and me) are taking shifts waking up in the night to check the camera to see if anything’s happened since most mares give birth in the middle of the night.
Tonight I packed a little bag with a change of clothes and some food that I can grab at a moment’s notice and run to my car with should I get a call in the middle of the night or see something happening on the camera myself.
And now – finally – as I watch Rain on my iPad and look at the alarms on my phone for me to wake up and check the camera and look over to my packed bag, the excitement is kicking in.
In the last few days Rain’s udder has swollen up and the baby has really started to move downward. The time is coming soon.
I’ve felt that baby move around inside her for such a long time that it never really sunk in that he or she was eventually going to come out and join the world. I don’t think it will really sink in until I see that baby for the first time with my own eyes. But for now, I am finally feeling the excitement. It’s amazing how much we all already love this precious little foal, and we haven’t met him or her yet.
Rain has done an amazing job carrying this baby and I am in awe of her. I am in awe of her strength and her grace and the fact that she walked onto our ranch a miserable mare and has turned into the happiest, sweetest, most gentle spirit in the world. Her baby has no idea how lucky he/she is.
Hurry on out, little girl/guy. The world awaits you.