We'll Leave the Light On
Marmalade's coat was matted with sweat and smeared with blood. Wood shavings and hay dotted her coat where she had rolled, trying to seek comfort. She was straining and her breathing was labored, her flanks heaved with every breath. Aunt Jane quickly assessed the situation, ran to the phone, and called Dr. Daner. She sunk down next to Marmalade and rubbed her neck, trying to soothe the mare, waiting for the vet's arrival.
The foal's position was all wrong. One foot protruded from the mare's vulva, and you could see the tip of the foal's nose peeking out below the leg. The foal hadn't turned when labor had begun and was upside down. The other leg was somewhere inside the mare. Dr. Daner was able to push the foal back. He found both legs and turned the foal, gently easing it out with the next contraction. The foal was a lumpy puddle on the floor of the stall. Aunt Jane, in stunned disbelief, began to dry the foal, peeling back the sac, and rubbing roughly to stimulate breathing. Dr. Daner kept his attention focused on the mare, who lay exhausted as the placenta was delivered with one last shuddering contraction.
The mare's breathing slowed. She gave into the exhaustion, closing her eyes as she sighed. Everyone rested for a moment. Aunt Jane looked down at the tiny foal, and turned back to Dr. Daner explaining, "We didn't know she was in foal. She must have been bred in pasture before we brought the two-year olds in for their initial breaking last year. We just figured she was gaining weight from lack of work, since our daughter has been away at college and hasn't been working her."
"Well," Dr. Daner responded, with the characteristic twinkle in his eyes, "it seems you have a little Easter Surprise!"
After Dr. Daner collected his things and cleaned up, he and Aunt Jane watched in satisfaction as Easter Surprise struggled to stand. Her long legs splayed to the sides as she teetered and tottered, trying to get her land legs. Marmalade lifted her head, looking in disbelief at the foal, a carbon copy of herself, right down to the symmetric star on the bright chestnut face. She rose to her elbows and pushed herself up to stand, showering the foal as she shook shavings and hay from her coat. She nickered, and was greeted with a sweet bleating from the foal. The foal took some awkward steps searching for, and finding the teats. Marmalade swung her head around to nuzzle the foal, making soft wuffling noises. The satisfying sounds of the foal suckling at its mother filled the barn as the first rays of sun ran across the drive and into the barn.
Aunt Jane walked Dr. Daner to his truck in the early light. A promise of a beautiful day dawning. She never imagined that this perfect Easter morning would turn into a nightmare.
To be continued......