For the last few weeks, I have been keeping a close eye on Miss Music Major and her new colt. They are a constant source of amusement, wonder, and joy for me. Miss Music Major is an amazing first-time mother, doting on her little one and indulging his curiosity by watching his endless antics with a patience I cannot even begin to fathom. Then again, patience has never been my virtue. I have been impressed with her nurturing instincts and how well she takes care of her new colt. She is an amazing mother! They are quite the dynamic duo.
I have also been impressed with Note This and Baby Note. As Baby Note continues to grow, so does their relationship and interaction. Note This has no problem schooling her little one in horse manners and how to interact with others. Baby Note has become quite the athlete, jumping over everything, including her own mother when she is trying to take a nap in their paddock. I find myself wondering if the five-foot fence I have is truly tall enough to contain her. The adage “Though Shalt Fly Without Wings” definitely applies to Baby Note. And Note This is ever the diligent mother.
While horses are powerful, majestic creatures, I am often reminded of how fragile they are and how quickly life can change when you least expect it. I was not only reminded of this last night, but of the importance of a mother and her care.
Last night, I had finally reached the point in the evening where I could do what most people look forward to at the end of a long day – wear sweat pants and attempt to relax and watch tv. I had decided to start watching something my father recorded on my DVR over a year ago – something I have been meaning to watch for years and have simply not taken the time to do. I was finally going to start watching “Lonesome Dove,” the infamous show my father has been after me to watch for years on end. Even one of my horse trainers has been telling me to watch it. I was finally giving in to peer pressure, so to speak, to watch “Lonesome Dove” with my dates for the evening, my Border Collie, Cody, and my Heeler, Max.
It happened. Sort of. The boys and I had just started the second episode of “Lonesome Dove” when I heard a loud crashing noise coming from the monitor in the barn. I looked to the monitor and could see that Miss Music Major had decided to lay down, something that was not uncommon for that time of night, and she had bumped the stall wall as she went down. She then did something unusual – she got right back up and went right back down, this time, thrashing about. My heart was in my throat when she repeated the behavior. It was obvious she was uncomfortable. This was looking like colic. “Lonesome Dove” was going to have to wait.
I leapt up from the couch, making Max growl as I did so. Max doesn’t like being woke up once he is snoring, and to say he was enjoying his nap through “Lonesome Dove” is an understatement. I had to keep turning the TV volume up he was snoring so loudly. Cody, on the other hand, sensed my movement and was running for the back door, anticipating a trip to the barn. He was ready. I grabbed a jacket, a tube of Banamine, and the three of us headed to the barn.
As I opened the gate to leave the yard, Cody and Max sprinted for the barn area. Their sudden rush of activity startled something in the darkness. I was abruptly greeted by a pair of large yellow eyes and a flutter of frantic wings in my face and a screeching sound that about made me jump out of my skin. It flew at my face and then up above my head. I could feel the wind created from its wings and sense its fright. It was a small owl! Although I knew the owl meant no harm, I couldn’t help but think it was trying to convey a sense of urgency. I started running to the barn.
As I opened the barn door, I was greeted with loud whinnying from not only Miss Music Major, but Note This and the two babies. I quickly got a halter on Miss Music Major and gave her a dose of Banamine. She wouldn’t stay on her feet to walk around, something you are supposed to do with a horse that may be experiencing colic, and quickly went to the ground, thrashing about violently and groaning as she did so. She almost landed on her little colt as she went down. He jumped to move out of her way and almost landed on me. My heart was racing; I knew we all needed help. I exited the stall and called my veterinarian. She was on her way. In the mean-time, she told me to monitor the situation but to stay out of the way. Trying to get Miss Music Major up and walking at this point could be dangerous and for me to wait until I had assistance. It was good advice.
Watching Miss Music Major as she was thrashing about, writhing in pain, I was terrified. I have never seen a horse in so much discomfort. Her loud groans were agonizing and every time she got up and went back down, she seemed to be either kicking a wall or hitting her head on it, in spite of the fact that she’s in a very large stall. It broke my heart watching her beat herself up, literally. What if the worst happened and she died from this? What would happen to her baby?! I know it’s possible to bottle feed little ones and have them grow up to be healthy, strong horses. It is, however, quite an undertaking and bottle feeding a baby horse can seem like a never-ending task when it’s required every few hours for months on end. It’s not an insurmountable task, but it certainly doesn’t make up for the care that only a mother can provide.
After about twenty minutes or so, the Banamine must have started to kick in because the thrashing wasn’t as violent, although it was still happening. She also seemed to be getting fatigued. Miss Music Major finally threw herself down in the far corner of her stall and laid there groaning for well over twenty minutes. There was a lot of gaseous noises and farting, which was actually a good sign. I was worried with all of the thrashing about that her intestine could be twisted. As I watched her, I found myself praying and asking for some divine guidance.
After a few minutes, Miss Music Major stood up and pooped, which I took to be a very good sign. She also permitted her little colt to nurse, something that had not happened in over an hour because she had not been on her feet long enough to allow it. The veterinarian showed up as this was happening.
After administering medications, a thorough exam and palpation, and some careful observation, she determined that she did not think the intestinal tract was twisted and that ultimately, Miss Music Major was going to be okay. Relief flooded through me. The worst of the storm had passed!
I continued to monitor Miss Music Major throughout the night. She started to nibble on her hay again about 3 am, and by 6 she was wanting to know where her breakfast was at. She also resumed her role as a doting mother, letting her colt nurse whenever he wished throughout the night and watching over him whenever he would lay down to sleep. As I watched the two of them throughout the night, I was struck with the importance of a mother’s role, be it equine or human.
Miss Music Major and her colt are outside in their paddock today, and the little guy is up to his usual antics. Life has returned to normal, at least for now. And, ever the patient mother, she watches over him and tries to keep him in line and out of trouble, just as my own mother has always done for me.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you!